The original Halloween is an exercise in minimalism. These two remakes by Rob Zombie, a huge fan of the more-is-more approach, are not. They are noisier, more casually brutal, filled with characters so stridently awful you’re actually glad when Michael starts taking them out, have excessive runtimes, and are overloaded with story elements that don’t add much depth. In the first film, not only do we get a backstory that hammers home Michael’s unhappy childhood, we also get a literal lecture from Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) on all the reasons why Michael became a killer, as if it hadn’t already been made patently obvious.
These movies aren’t all bad—the casts are cult-movie cool as hell, with McDowell, Brad Dourif, Udo Kier, Dee Wallace, Danny Trejo, Ken Foree, Danielle Harris, Margot Kidder, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Sid Haig, and all the Zombie regulars popping up throughout. And while the first film echoes the 1978 original fairly closely, the second film follows its own narrative to some intriguingly batshit places, though your mileage may vary depending on your fondness for Sheri Moon Zombie. But if you can’t get past the heavy-handed Rob Zombie-ness of them—how is it possible that beloved horror heroine Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) can be transformed into someone so utterly unlikable?—there are so many other Halloween flicks to choose from that you can just kind of pretend they don’t exist.