It seems everyone has their own Harry Potter that mythical figure from pop culture in whom most can find common ground and whose reappearance every few years brings the true believers out to party. The fanboys have their Batman. The baby boomers have their James Bond. And the tattoo-and-piercing crowd has its Rob Zombie director of the latest installment in the "Halloween" cycle, which premiered Thursday night at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
Zombie is the creation of one Robert Cummings of Haverhill, Mass. It may not be an alter ego as different or as out there as some, but one suspects the wild, growling Zombie of concert fame is quite a bit removed from the devoted horror movie fan who lovingly casts his favorite character actors in all his films.
This group's latest celebration was the "Halloween" premiere, Zombie's remake of John Carpenter's 1978 horror masterpiece. And while Michael Myers, the William Shatner-mask-wearing homicidal killer of eight of the nine "Halloween" films, had his devotees including a guy who made the coolness faux pas of wearing a Michael Myers T-shirt to a Michael Myers movie it was obvious that Zombie was the real star of the show.
The crowd demonstrated the range of Zombie's appeal. There were suit-clad and distracted Hollywood types constantly scanning the crowd, emaciated tattoo ladies with their pierced boyfriends, the occasional celebrity unrelated to the film (Kevin Smith), and even a few families. Though what those parents thought while the scenes of sweet-faced 10-year-old Michael Myers viciously slaughtering his family played on screen is anyone's guess.
But Zombie's greatest contribution to the mix was his cast, with many beloved B-movie and genre stars coming out to share the limelight. Mingling with the pretty but anonymous faces of the film's young stars were the distinctive mugs of Sid Haig, Brad Dourif, Danny Trejo and Malcolm McDowell.
The odd seating numbers at the Chinese caused confusion for some, who wandered around the auditorium, cursing and trying to find their spots. Two guys who slipped into vacant seats not their own were soon confronted by a surly agent type who hovered menacingly over them until his date arrived, and took him to seats somewhere else.
A young, blond actress chattered into her cellphone: "Oh yeah, I talked to 'Access Hollywood' and 'Extra.' Great exposure." Her unheard friend on the other end apparently asked what premiere she was attending. "I don't know," she snapped back. "Some horror movie. People get killed."
Producer Malek Akkad, son of original "Halloween" producer Moustapha Akkad, started things on a strangely somber note, paying tribute to his father, who started as executive producer on the latest film before dying in a terrorist bombing in Jordan in 2005. Then co-producer Andy Gould spoke.
Executive producer Bob Weinstein was brought up next, muttering "How many people can introduce a movie?" before giving his own introduction to the proceedings.
Then the star of the hour: Rob Zombie. The crowd went wild.
"I called John Carpenter when I found out I was doing this," Zombie said. "I told him, 'Hi John, I just wanted to let you know I'm remaking ''Halloween.'' ' There was a long silence on the other end. Then he said, 'So? What do you want me to say?' "
It was unclear if Carpenter had made the premiere, although Zombie said he hadn't seen him.
Then the movie began, and there were cheers and screams. One guest said it was "exactly what a 13-year-old boy would describe a horror movie to his friends as."
When it ended, many bolted for the exits, proving that even the people who make movies don't stick around to watch the credits.
"The joke is that Rob Zombie's done directing horror movies," one rocker girl said to her friends as they exited the theater. "He's going to direct Charles Dickens movies."
"Yeah," said her friend, similarly tattooed. "Like that one 'Christmas ' What's it called?"
As the crowd filed down Hollywood Boulevard, headed toward Geisha House for the afterparty, they passed two figures standing quietly on the curb and watching: Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger.
Mitchell Schonberner has been a costumed character on the boulevard for a couple of years. Normally he plays Jason Voorhees of the "Friday the 13th" films, but for the last year he's been alternating that character with Michael Myers. As the people passed him by, he expressed some satisfaction at getting his picture taken with Daeg Faerch, the actor who played the young Michael Myers in the film.
"I'm just holding on to their titles out here," he said. "Keeping it going."
But when pressed, he did have one admission to make: "Jason's way more popular."
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