A Halloween remake (ugh: “re-imagining”) directed by Rob Zombie could not POSSIBLY be bad, could it? No, but it could be average/unnecessary, and that’s unfortunately what it turned out to be. Zombie doesn’t bring his super-gritty foul drive-in approach down here, just serves up a pretty straightforward horror/slasher with maybe a good cast and some good violence, but with no strong artistic stamp or reason to exist.

Malcolm McDowell is at least better than the awful Donald Pleasence as Myers’ psychiatrist, Tyler “Sabretooth” Mane is a fine Michael and regular TV guest-star Scout Taylor-Compton does no harm as Laurie Strode. All the fun is with the side characters: Danny Trejo as the asylum’s janitor, Sheri Moon Zombie as Mrs. Myers. I missed a ton of cameos (Ken Foree, Mickey Dolenz, Udo Kier, Clint Howard, Sid Haig – what was I looking at??) but at least I recognized Dee Wallace (of The Frighteners and The Howling) even if I didn’t know from where. I’ve gotta pay more attention to Sheriff Brad Dourif – he’s been in a buncha movies I’ve enjoyed.

Tons of added back-story about Michael as a troubled young man does not help. I’m sure Zombie has seen plenty of horror sequels along with the originals, and so he oughtta know that eventually every monster gets a humanizing back story (Hellraiser 3&4, Elm Street 6, Phantasm 4, etc) and it never helps – it’s just an excuse to make another movie, a lure to fans that dilutes the mystery of the original concept. Not that the back story segments here are bad exactly, or that the Halloween series could be hurt by them. I’ve considered it to be one of the very worst horror series from part 4 onward, so this movie only helps the series as a whole. It’s just a shame to see the filmmaker behind “The Devil’s Rejects” doing uninspired junk like this in the first place, throwing down with the ceaseless-remake crowd with a dull entry like this one, not even hitting as high or as hard as “The Hills Have Eyes”, or making the Halloween franchise fun and interesting and inventive again like “Bride of Chucky” and “Freddy vs. Jason” and “Alien Resurrection” did. I thought the best, most thrilling part of Halloween was the use of the original theme music written by John Carpenter. Let’s hope that “The Haunted World of El Superbeasto” fares better.

Arrrrgh, I should’ve known better than to trust this movie. A remake with insufficient imagination to justify its existence. A simple thriller with a lot of very good performances, that’s all. I’m probably wrong and it’s probably a Great Film, but I’m gonna go with my gut until proven wrong.

Let’s go: Martin Sheen is the police chief and Leo DiCaprio is his mole. Jack Nicholson is the ganglord and Matt Damon is his mole. Vera Farmiga is the psychiatrist girlfriend. Alec Baldwin is another police guy, and Marky Mark is Sheen’s assistant, one of Scorsese’s new characters.

So what’s different? The relationships with Vera are more developed – she’s marrying Matt and having an affair with Leo. Marky speaks for Sheen, spitting a stream of profanities at anyone in front of him. He kills Matt in the final scene as revenge for Sheen’s death. Most importantly, little things like taking the cellphone out of the evidence bag when Matt first calls Leo and having no recording gear in Leo’s arm cast when the gangsters bust it. Changes for the sake of changing things, removing memorable details that worked well in the original. I like the bit with the psychiatrist and the Marky Mark character – both help justify the longer running time of the remake – but they’ve stripped Leo’s close relationship with the cop boss, making the falling death from the building a lot less meaningful (except through Marky’s revenge bit). I especially don’t get that. I missed Chris Doyle’s cinematography and didn’t appreciate much of the music (especially the Comfortably Numb remake). The move to Boston worked well at least. A perfectly fine movie as long as I hadn’t loved the original. It’s my own fault that I did, I guess.