If I had a cool fake last name and a semi-successful pseudo-metal band in the 90s, maybe I would be approached to direct a "retelling" of a horror classic to make a ton of money for the studio.
If I was, I would keep in mind all the elements that made Halloween '78 so popular and leave them exactly how they were, such as prolonged steady-cam shots to give the sense that of The Shape's point of view, a minimal but chilling soundtrack to add to the tension, a brave heroine who isn't a helpless idiot, and keeping the antagonist off screen for at least the first half of the movie to build the tension. This was the formula for all the "great" horror and suspense movies, such as Psycho, The Exorcist, Jaws, and the first Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street movies, and I would keep true to it in my Halloween remake.
The only things I would fix in my retelling would be little things that my larger budget would certainly allow. I would make the sets of Haddonfield, Illinois in October look less like Southern California in April. My actresses portraying teen-agers would not be in their late 20s or early 30s, and I would eliminate small holes in the plot like the opening scene of Michael's sister making out with her boyfriend upstairs for only 40 seconds before he leaves, and the sheriff responding to a break-in at the hardware store during normal business hours (usually, burglar alarms don't sound during shoplifting.) I would also pick a year that my remake was supposed to take place and stick to it. I wouldn't confuse the audience by having people with sort of retro fashions and hairstyles driving pristine cars from the 60s and 70s and kids on stingray bikes that haven't been seen in 25 years, but at the same time modern police cars and cell phones.
I understand Rob Zombie's temptation to answer questions that all of us have had about Michael Myers, such as why is he so intent on killing people and why does he insist on wearing a mask? The problem is, in answering the questions and telling about Michael's background, Michael becomes more human and therefore less scary. Even Zombie's choice of explanation is suspect. The audience expects a tormented kid from a crappy home to turn out disturbed, but a bad kid from a seemingly normal home seems a lot scarier, since it could happen to anyone. (Halloween '78 got this part right as well.) Not everything in this movie is completely inferior to the original, hence my rating of 4 stars. The sets look thousands times better than the original. The actresses seem more believable as teenagers than in the original, and we get to see a lot more of them. The new scene of Michael ripping up floorboards in his old house to get his mask and knife was pretty cool, too.
As for the rest of the movie, it is an interesting study in what truly comes across as suspenseful on a screen. Is a powerful, 6'8" antagonist scarier than one who appears and vanishes into the shadows? (probably not.) Does gratuitous gore and language actually distract from the suspense? (yes.) Does the inclusion of well known rock-songs for more than 5 seconds at a time really kill the mood? (absolutely, and it also interferes with the classic soundtrack. This was also a problem in Halloween 2.) Are dizzying, quick, MTV jump cuts scarrier than long, steady shots? (see for yourself and decide.) In a way, Rob Zombie had an impossible task of making a sequel (even if it was called remake or retelling) when everyone already knew about Michael and what was going to happen, thereby removing almost all of the suspense. However, that doesn't excuse leaving out the opening title sequence with a simple black background, pulsating theme music, and the off center, poorly-carved Jack O Lantern giving a sense of foreboding. I am almost certain there was a fantastic, eerie version of the classic 5/8 theme played on an out-of-tune honky tonk piano that was played in a trailer for Halloween '07. It would have worked perfectly for such an opening sequence, but sadly, it was omitted for the actual movie.
Don't expect a lot from this movie (like being scared or entertained) but if you watch it to study what truly works in horror movies and what doesn't, it is worthwhile viewing. When it comes to horror, less is more, since nothing is more powerful than the viewer's imagination.
Remember that, Rob.