Monday, July 23, 2012

my thoughts on.... 'Michael Lives: The Making Of 'Halloweeen''

Rob Zombie's take on the 'Halloween' franchise has been met with various levels of positive and negative reviews. Some have valid points and others are just outright "haters". While I can understand both sides of the argument, I personally lie on the positive side of things. I am a huge fan of Rob Zombie's film work and found this remake/reimaging/revisioning to be a fresh take on an old property. The original John Carpenter vision had long since been lost.... somewhere after part 2. 'Season of the Witch' was charming in its own way, but no a true entry in the franchise. Parts 4 and 5 were decent, but felt like out of place. Everything after that was just a downhill race to extinction. In all honesty, I was never a huge fan of Mr. Myers to begin with and I had long since given up on the series. What Rob Zombie created was a fresh take on the films. He breathed life back into a long dead horror icon. This wasn't the Michael Myers you remember, this was the more realistic, grittier and downright vile version. What John Carpenter had started, was a clean slate of a character, one without no face or identity. A "shark", so to speak. He called him 'The Shape'. Rob took that character, gave him a background and an identity beyond the mask. He made it bloody and messy, like it might be in real life. He made the characters react to what was happening in a more real life way and the trauma that remained after, was almost too much to bear. You saw the characters have an arc in their personalities. They grew with time, rather than just stand still. This wasn't a horror-soap opera.... this was Jerry Springer-ish. I now call myself a 'Halloween' fan, thanks for Mr. Zombie's vision of evil.

With the release of the original film, there came several versions on DVD, to choose from. A theatrical, an unrated and a 3 disc collectors edition. I proudly own all three and the only reason I triple dipped and bought the 3 disc version, was to watch the 4 and a 1/2 hour documentary 'Michael Lives: The Making of 'Halloween''. I was not disappointed. (side note: I also own the theatrical and unrated versions of 'Halloween 2' and the "workprint" edition of the original.) Now, you might be asking, "What in the hell could take up 4 and a 1/2 hours of time for THAT film?" Well, a lot.... quite frankly. I actually watched it in hour long segments, just to make it last longer. There is a huge amount of information in this making of documentary and if you're not a fan to begin with, this won't change your mind. This is strictly for die hard fans only, if you're not one of those, you might as well stop reading now. Unlike the similar making of on 'The Devil's Rejects', this kept my interest for the entire time. Perhaps, with the other, I wasn't in the right frame of mind and perhaps I need to give it another chance? Perhaps. What does this cover, you might ask? It's basically a road map of Rob's film making experience from inception to release. Every stone is turned over and nothing is left to the imagination. Every actor, extra and crew person is seen in this behind the scenes extravaganza. You get the chance to know all the players involved and see exactly what it takes to make a film of this scale. There is actually quite a lot of blood, sweat and tears involved with the making of a horror film. Especially one where you're updating what many consider a masterpiece. Rob was very respectful of John Carpenter and his original material. He was a fan first and only took on the project with Mr. Carpenter's blessing. That should really be enough of a reason for the "haters" to stop hating so much. I mean, if he was okay with it, why aren't you? That doesn't mean you have to like it, but at least respect the effort.

This documentary almost plays itself out like a video diary. There is some narration to go with what's going on, but a lot of it is like a home movie. It's a nice even balance of both, so as to keep you interested. You get to see how each actor was selected, how the script grew and changed, how the sets and costumes came to be and even the editing process. This is any 'Halloween' or Rob Zombie lovers dream. All of the people involved in the making of this, took it very seriously and all of them had the best intentions. They wanted to make the definitive vision of 'Halloween'. (That's probably why all of them signed on for the sequel too.) It gives you a fly on the wall feeling and a chance to see what these people are like in real life. It actually made me appreciate the film even more, AFTER watching this opus.

Now, I can't recommend this to everyone. You really have to love the source material. This is not for the passive viewer. This is also not something that I could find for rental. If you want to see 'Michael Lives', you have to own the 3 disc set. Sadly, Rob didn't do the same thing for 'Halloween 2' or 'House of 1000 Corpses', as I would have loved to have seen those as well. I'm hoping that for his new film 'The Lords of Salem', that he'll compile another one of these. When it comes to his work, I can't get enough of it.... even the tiny little details that no one else cares about. As a film maker, film lover and fan, this is like a Christmas present that keeps on giving. I really don't know what else I can say about this, after all, it is just a making of documentary.... not the film itself. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and will eventually take it on again. It's not something to just pop in on a whim, it will take a little pre-planning. Rob, how do I love thee? Enough to own multiple copies of everything you do.

Similar making of documentaries: '30 Days in Hell: The Making of 'The Devil's Rejects''....nothing else is quite as in depth

(no trailer is available for this documentary, so I just put the trailer for the film itself.)

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