David Gordon Green was very nervous about what John Carpenter would say. He was making the 40th anniversary sequel to 1978's Halloween, a horror and cultural icon, and a film that would yet again bring together Jamie Lee Curtis' Laurie Strode and the William Shatner-masked murderer known as Michael Myers. "His advice was brilliant," Green said. "'Make it relentless.'"
It's an almost unfathomably quick shoot--less than a month--and the 2018 Halloween film had effectively taken over a small, peaceful neighborhood street in Charleston, SC, the adoptive home of Green and his co-writer and co-producer Danny McBride. During an all-too-brief break in shooting, Green and McBride spoke to Nerdist about their decision to make a direct sequel to one of the most influential films of all time.
"I just thought the visual style of that first Halloween, the ideas of those tracking shots, the anamorphic wide shots, it seemed to be such a simple formula of what made it so spooky and I haven’t even seen that duplicated in the other films," said McBride, reminiscing about Carpenter's original. "I feel like it was a bit about the visual style and the tone of it felt like it hadn’t been duplicated since the original."
For all intents and purposes, this year's Halloween is another Halloween II, fully ignoring all of the sequelizing, re-imagining, and rebooting that's gone on in the subsequent eight movies, three distinct continuities, and four decades. "For us," Green explained, "it was a clean slate type of opportunity. We want to start fresh for a new generation, but with great appreciation for the previous." References or nods to the aborted timelines are there for eagle-eyed fans, but this is distinctly its own version.
"Make it relentless." - John Carpenter
And in the removing of all the sequels, the movie also removes the familial connection between Laurie Strode and Michael Myers. He's no longer her brother, as he'd been since Halloween II. "I was pushing for that removal right off the bat," McBride shared. "I just felt like that was an area where he wasn’t quite as scary anymore, it seemed too personalized. I wasn’t as afraid of Michael Myers anymore because I’m not his f***ing brother. [We thought] wouldn’t it be interesting just to see what would happen if it wasn’t that? What does that open up for us if it was just this random killing that has effected [Laurie Strode] for all these years?"
And while Jamie Lee Curtis' Laurie Strode is back, having been terrified at the eventuality of Myers' return, it was important for the filmmakers to have multiple generations of women, not least because it's still a teen slasher movie so you need teens. "I think by having these multiple generations, you’re able to cast a teenager who can sort of give us that 'in,'" McBride explains of Andi Matichak as Laurie's granddaughter, Allyson. "She’s never seen anything like this before, never seen violence like this, so she has been able to have a normal life, have friends, and not be constantly afraid. I think it was a way to keep what was cool from the first Halloween, that sort of innocent in to the story."
And that's really why the pair are so laser-focused on doing justice to Carpenter's original, a movie that launched an entire subgenre--the teen slasher movie--and is still touted as one of the most artful and suspenseful horror movies of the modern era. "He had notes, which is something I was extremely nervous about," Green recalls from his first meeting with Carpenter. "It’s one thing for three movie nerds to geek out over the opportunity of maneuvering within this property, another to basically go kiss the ring of the godfather and see how that goes. I was sweating bullets."
The movie will have visual references to Carpenter's original, and Carpenter himself is composing the score for the film and serves as an executive producer. There's even, we're told, a nod to the infamous opening tracking shot from the POV of young Michael in the original. All of this is meant to make the movie truly feel like a continuation of the masterpiece, recapturing some the magic. It's a daunting prospect, especially considering the film's rabid fanbase.
But Green isn't thinking about the pressure of the entire viewing audience. "I think the most pressure I have is wanting John to be involved and enthusiastic and see what we’re doing and appreciate what we’re doing and the support in those collaborative elements. You don’t often see a passion project as a low budget horror film, but this particular one is and we’re really lucky to have the people that we have, intelligent, technical and creative minds around us. If I was to, at this point in the creative process, to assume the world wide enthusiasm for this franchise, I’d probably be very uncomfortable with that."
"It’s one thing to geek out; another to kiss the ring of the godfather. I was sweating bullets." - David Gordon Green
But is the Shape still relevant in this day and age, when young people face such horror and tragedy on a daily basis? The horror movie has always been an outlet for frustrations, fears, and angers of youth culture. People need a release, and they enjoy being scared in the relative safety of the theater. That's why, according to Green, there's still room for Michael.
"The world has changed a lot since Michael Myers was around," Green said. "The world has seen a lot of horrific shit and there’s a lot of bad things that happen now on a daily basis, so is a man in mask with a knife still scary? And I think that’s what this movie answers. Yes, he still is."
Halloween hits theaters on October 19.
Read More About The New Halloween
- Jamie Lee Curtis talked to us about returning to Halloween and the legacy of Laurie Strode
- This is what Michael Myers has been doing since 1978's Halloween
- Confused about the continuity of Halloween? We got you.