Halloween II goes heavy on gore, light on scares

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      Starring Scout Taylor-Compton, Malcolm McDowell, and Brad Dourif. Rated 18A.

      Does anyone remember which horror icon came out on top in 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason? Me neither.

      Watch the trailer for Halloween II.

      But I do know that the Michael Myers you see slaughtering folks in Halloween II would make both Krueger and Voorhees his bitches in two seconds flat.

      The most impressive thing about HII—Rob Zombie’s follow-up to his 2007 remake of John Carpenter’s landmark 1978 slasher hit, Halloween—is the way he imbues his killing machine with such extreme brutality. Whether using his giant hands to smash victims’ heads into walls, his giant boots to stomp their heads into paste, or his giant butcher knife to saw and sever said noggins, every wicked thing Myers does, he does with incredible force. The masked maniac approaches murder like a weightlifter does a workout.

      As he’s been wont to do ever since he burst onto the horror scene in 2003 with the sadistic House of 1000 Corpses, Zombie pushes the limits of cruelty and violence, and just when you think the victims have suffered enough, he’ll give the blade another twist. Gorehounds may figure that’s par for the course in today’s Eli Roth world, but discriminating horror fans will lament the lack of truly effective scares. Relentlessly disturbing though it is, the movie is not particularly frightening.

      The other major weakness of Halloween II is Zombie’s bungled depiction of the psychological suffering of Laurie Strode (21st-century scream queen Scout Taylor-Compton), who’s been severely traumatized by Myers’s attack on her two years ago. The scenes where Strode has visions of Myers’s dead mother (the filmmaker’s foxy wife, Sheri Moon Zombie) beckoning to her while leading a beautiful white horse are awkward and out of place. They do offer a gentle respite from the nonstop stabbings, though.