Search this blog and The Mike's favorite blogs!

July 13, 2010

Random Horror Throwdown - Pieces vs. Halloween II (2009)

I'm just gonna say this up front: I can't think of a movie in recent memory I've hated as much as Rob Zombie's Halloween II. As a Halloween series fanatic, it took everything in my power to accept Zombie's version of Halloween for what it was, and then when the sequel happened I felt like I was starring in an episode of 'Ow! My Balls!'. But, since I'm promising "random" in my Random Horror Throwdowns, its number came up and I'm gonna talk about it. But I'm not going to like it.

Halloween II 2009's opponent? Pieces, a film which can be described and defended as either a masterpiece or a piece of something else. So, this should be fun.


The Movies:

(1982, Dir. by Juan Piquer-Simon.)
Starring: Christopher George, Linda Day (George), Edmund Purdom, Ian Sera.
IMDB Synopsis: Young co-eds are being cut up by a chainsaw killer on a college campus. The killer is attempting to put together a human jigsaw puzzle made from body parts. (Note from The Mike: Simple and effective. It's exactly what you think it is.)

Halloween II (2009, Dir. by Rob Zombie.)
Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Scout Taylor-Compton, Brad Dourif.
IMDB Synopsis: Laurie Strode struggles to come to terms with her brother Michael's deadly return to Haddonfield, Illinois; meanwhile, Michael prepares for another reunion with his sister. (Note from The Mike: I could spend the rest of the night dissecting this statement, due to my frustrations with Mr. Zombie, but instead I will just sigh and move on. *sigh*)

The Directors:
The other films I know of by JP Simon are Mystery on Monster Island, which I failed to finish despite the presence of Terence Stamp and Peter Cushing, and Slugs: The Movie, which I remember laughing at as a child. He's definitely not a top-shelf director by any means, but Pieces manages to stay afloat despite being a generally awful film from a technical standpoint because he offers what an audience that would be looking for a film like this wants.

Zombie's films show a technical proficiency, and I - like many other horror fans - have often lamented that he has all the tools to make a great horror film. I don't think he ever has, and each day I'm less convinced that he ever will. Zombie has had a lot of things given to him on a silver platter as a filmmaker - name one other director who could make The Devil's Rejects and get a wide summer release - but has continued to frustrate. In the case of Halloween II he did more than frustrate me, he enraged me. Don't care who he is musically, I'm giving the point to Pieces. (1-0, Pieces leads.)

The Plots:
Pieces continues to live up to its tagline by being exactly what you think it is, a simple seedy slasher whose killer carries a chainsaw and cuts up naked women. There's actually a lot of time spent on the side story of the police investigation, which allows us to get Linda Day's famous scene into the film. Halloween II follows up the original remake of Halloween by giving us some incomprehensible crap about Michael's ghost stripper mother and a unicorn making him come back to kill his sister who's now smoking pot and gettin' with dudes because she's so broken up over Michael happening, all while Dr. Loomis, who spent 15 years with Michael has turned into a jackass media whore. So, Pieces gets another point. (2-0, Pieces leads.)

The Casts:
Y'know, I actually kind of like Scout Taylor-Compton as Laurie Strode. Casting her may have been the best thing Zombie did in his two Halloween films (it's just sad that he never understood what the character was supposed to be). Malcolm McDowell has always been great, and sightings of Brad Dourif, Danielle Harris, Margot Kidder, Howard Hesseman, and Bill "Dauber" Fagerbakke are all welcome.

Pieces has the Georges, Edmund Purdom being goofy, the impressively hairy and bald Paul Smith, and the over-the-top awful Ian Sera. But it doesn't have Sheri Moon Zombie, who's both awful and shouldn't belong in this movie because the subplot she's involved in is stupid, so I'm giving another point to Pieces. (3-0, Pieces leads.)

OK, The Mike...we know how much you hate Halloween II, and that you aren't going to give it any points. Why even write this?:
Really great point. The title of the blog is From Midnight, With Love, and this is most certainly (except maybe when I saw Larry Clark's Teenage Caveman) the most unloving thing I've written. But Zombie's Halloween II just pushes all the wrong buttons with me. With Zombie's Halloween, I could at least look at it and say "OK, this would be a good movie if they didn't pretend to be a Halloween movie, but since that was how they could make money with it, that's what they did. I can accept that...I don't necessarily like it, but I accept it. And I knew going into Halloween II that Zombie's version of Michael Myers was not John Carpenter's version of Michael Myers. This was not the boogeyman, this was not just a shape, this was a disturbed redneck kid that turned bad based on the world he's in. Yes, it's more real, but it's not what Halloween was.

But when Zombie turned Laurie Strode into an anti-survivor girl, and turned Loomis the crusader into Loomis the snake; all while adding a ridiculous supernatural back story that both cheapens Myers further and serves primarily as an excuse to get his hot wife who can't act into the film, I lost it. Am I being that guy who craps on details of remakes and sounds like an old man on a bench complaining about those young whippersnappers? Yes, absolutely. But Halloween freaking matters to me, and the fact that I have to distinguish it against Zombie's "reimagining" for the rest of my life makes me sick. I can not let this go unsaid, because my love of Carpenter's film and what it stood for (plus my respect for the sequel he wrote for what it was) is the driving force in my effort to point out why I feel Zombie's Halloween films are offensive.

I blacked out a little while typing that all, but I'm giving a point to Pieces here. (4-0, Pieces leads.)

So, what makes Pieces - a cinematic travesty that's best played for laughs - any better, The Mike?
Funny story: About 8 or 9 years ago, my sister got me a cheap DVD of Pieces - which I'd never heard of before - as a Christmas gift, because back then she used to always get me a random cheap horror DVD with my Christmas presents. At the time, when I was a more discriminating filmgoer, I dismissed it entirely and thought it to be one of the worst films I had in my young DVD collection. When I got to the next point where I needed to sell some DVDs to pay for Christmas presents for my family, it was one of the first DVDs to go.

But time, viewings of other flicks, and memories were - for a reason I can't explain - kind to Pieces. The more bad slashers I saw, the more I looked back thinking "Y'know, that thing was kinda fantastic for what it was!" It didn't take itself seriously, it heaped on what viewers wanted from it, and featured some insanely over the top moments that lived in my mind in infamy. It wasn't a film that deserved my disdain, because - going back to the tagline again - it was exactly what you would think it would be. So, when a remastered version came around and I thought that I should revisit it; on to the Amazon wishlist it went. When my birthday came around, you can probably guess who got it for me as a gift. Yep, my sister. Rob Zombie had one thing right - Family is Forever. So Pieces gets a point. (5-0, Pieces leads.)
This Choice is Like:
Y'know what people love? Diners. You go eat at a diner like the one pictured above, or the one in The Blob, or the one in Superman 2, and you know exactly what you're getting when you order a burger. The food isn't anything special - probably isn't even good for you at all - but it's got that down home charm and you just want to guzzle it down, even if it does seem a bit greasy and the fries are too stiff.

Y'know what people don't love? McDonald's. It sure makes its money, and I admit I'm there more than I should be, but deep down we all know it's just wrong. Doesn't stop it, as it's got name recognition, but it doesn't have any of the charm that diner has.

From what I've been typing, you can tell which flick I think is the diner and which flick I think is McDonalds. Mercifully, the first shut-out in the history of the Random Horror Throwdown is ending, and I swear that it will be a long time before I ever mention Halloween II here again. Rob Zombie, if you're reading this, please go away and leave my Blob alone.

(Note from The Mike: 858 is way too low. This is one fine greasy diner.)


AE said...

Not even one point for Brad Dourif? BASTARD!!!

(God, I love Pieces.)

Enbrethiliel said...


I think the "Diner vs. McDonalds" analogy is great--one that you could use for lots of other things in the pop culture universe. =)

Great Throwdown as usual, The Mike!

The Mike said...

Thanks both y'all!

AE - Had the film earned a point, it would have been for Dourif. I just couldn't do it....but yeah, Pieces rules.

Enbrethliel - I think it's my fave rationale yet. That or the one where I talked about cheeseburgers. Life's all about cheeseburgers and blobs, really.