'Halloween' Is Back And It's A Great Time To Be A Horror Fan
Cheers to never sleeping again.
So what's the deal with the new Halloween movie? Jamie Lee Curtis and Michael Myers are back, but it's a little bit complicated.
The Halloween franchise has been stabbing its way into our hearts since 1978.
The original slasher, directed by the master of horror, John Carpenter (The Thing, Christine, The Fog), focuses on the serial killer, Michael Myers, who returns to his hometown to stalk a teenager, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). Myers carves his way through anyone who gets in his way while evading his former shrink, Doctor Loomis (Donald Pleasence).
Halloween helped kick start slasher films, which would become dominant in the 1980's with films like Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street before fading a little and being revived in the 1990's with Scream. During this time Halloween managed to spawn seven sequels, two reboots, and now, Halloween (2018) – 11 films in total to-date.
Curtis is returning to the role of Strode in the new Halloween (2018) but, wait a minute, didn’t she die in the one with Tyra Banks and Busta Rhymes, Halloween: Resurrection?
Correct, she did. This is where things get tricky.
Curtis is back because Halloween (2018) is a direct sequel to the 1978 film. Sorry horror nerds, this new film ignores all the sequels -- even the one with teen heartthrob, Josh Hartnett, H:20.
The new Halloween, co-written and directed by David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express), and co-written by Danny McBride (yep, Kenny Powers from Eastbound & Down), picks up 40 years after the events of the first film where Myers returns to his hometown to hunt Strode once again, but this time, she’s older, prepared and pissed off.
The history of the Halloween franchise is complicated because it was never intended to last this long. Carpenter’s original film was only made for a budget of just over $300,000 and became a hit that netted $70 million worldwide.
After making so much money the producers demanded a sequel, and one got made, but when it came to making a third film Carpenter expressed that he would only be involved if the series pivoted away from Myers and became an anthology horror series. The aim was to put out a new horror film set around October 31st each year under the banner of ‘Halloween’.
That’s how we got Halloween III: The Season of the Witch, which tells the story of a cult that wants to kill people using Halloween masks that contain the power of Stonehenge – it has to be seen to be believed. Without Myers, Halloween III was a critical and commercial flop. The series quickly reverted back to the slice-and-dice adventures of Myers with each sequel that followed.
The Halloween franchise got increasingly worse with each new film in the series until it was put to rest in 2002 following the atrocious Halloween: Resurrection.
We were Halloween-free for five years before the series was rebooted in 2007 by director Rob Zombie, who started from scratch by ignoring the original and the sequels. Zombie told Myers’ origin story from a troubled pet-killing kid who loved masks to retracting the steps of Carpenter’s film. The reboot did well enough to get a sequel despite middling reviews and horror fans asking: why?
The Halloween franchise was at a crossroads: continue with Zombie’s rebooted timeline or *gulp* reboot the series … again. That’s when Gordon and McBride stepped in with the assistance of horror super producer, Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity, Get Out, Sinister).
With the blessing of Carpenter, who signed on to Halloween (2018) as an executive producer, Blum made the vow to scrap the sequels and push on with a direct follow up to the original after hearing a killer pitch from Green and McBride. The idea wowed Laurie Strode herself, despite being technically dead, so Curtis agreed to return to the role that launched her career.
After premiering at the Toronto Film Festival in September, Halloween (2018) has generated an 87 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It seems the risk of discarding the history of the franchise has paid off, which now brings into question the status of other dormant horror franchises.
If Halloween (2018) succeeds at the box office, every studio in Hollywood will be checking their books for boogeymen. The last time we saw Nightmare on Elm Street was a shoddy reboot in 2010. Jason Voorhees last hacked his way through Camp Crystal Lake in 2009. A few studios have already begun with a rebooted Child’s Play on the way (as well as a television series), Candyman will be buzzing again soon and there’s got to be another 28 Saw films being planned.
Of course, its been a great few years for non-franchise horror films with Get Out, Hereditary, A Quiet Place, The Babadook and It Follows. They’ve even figured out how to adapt Stephen King’s horror novels into something not completely terrible with IT (part 2 arrives in 2019) and Gerald’s Game, maximising on giving us the creeps. A remake of Pet Sematary is on the way, too.
Seems like a great time to be a horror fan. Cheers to never sleeping again.
The new Halloween film hits Australian cinemas on October 25.
Feature Image: Universal Pictures