A story that carves a new path from the events in Carpenter’s landmark 1978 classic.
Master of horror John Carpenter executive produces and serves as creative consultant on a new Halloween, a story that carves a new path from the events in Carpenter’s landmark 1978 classic.
Based on characters created by Carpenter and Debra Hill, Halloween is also produced by Malek Akkad, whose Trancas International Films has produced the Halloween series since its inception. Carpenter also joins forces with cinema’s current leading producer of horror, Jason Blum (Get Out, Split, The Purge, Paranormal Activity).
Inspired by Carpenter’s classic, filmmakers David Gordon Green (Stronger), Danny Mcbride (HBO’s Eastbound & Down) and Jeff Fradley (HBO’s Vice Principals) wrote the screenplay, with Green directing.
In Halloween, Jamie Lee Curtis returns to her iconic role as Laurie Strode, who comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.
Stunt-man/performer Jim Courtney (Far and Away), portrays Michael Myers/The Shape, and Nick Castle (1978’s Halloween) appears in a cameo as The Shape.
Resetting the Timeline: Halloween Begins
Malek Akkad—whose family’s production company, Trancas International Films, has produced the Halloween series since its inception—was open to a fresh take on the story and found a likeminded creative partner in Jason Blum.
His fellow producer, whose Blumhouse Productions—responsible for delivering smash-hits from Get Out and Split to the films in The Purge series—has a first-look deal with distributor Universal Pictures.
Long impressed by Blum’s ability to marry abject terror with impeccable quality, Akkad was keen to embark upon a project with a fellow filmmaker who had a deep passion for his father’s co-creation…and someone who could help him breathe unexpected new life into the franchise.
Akkad gives us a bit of background on how it all began, an incredulous 40 years ago: “The original film came about when my father, Moustapha Akkad, and a gentleman named Irwin Yablans started a distribution company, Compass International Pictures. They were looking for some projects that they could self-finance and distribute and were fans of John Carpenter’s early work: Assault on Precinct 13. They had a meeting with him, and he had a concept for a low-budget film called The Babysitter Murders. They took a risk, and the rest is history.”
A massive fan of the first Halloween, Blum feels that it’s one of the most perfect horror films ever made…and had no interest in developing the project without running it by the director who’d inspired much of his own career. “Getting John Carpenter’s blessing was a prerequisite for Blumhouse being involved in this movie,” Blum reflects. “I wasn’t going to pursue making a Halloween movie without him. So, the first person I went to was John. I asked him, ‘Do you want to jump in?’ He happily agreed to do just that.”
Blum promised Carpenter—who calls Blum “the LeBron James of horror cinema”—that they wouldn’t move forward until he was happy with the director they had in mind…as well as the script that was being developed. To that end, Blum knew one filmmaker he thought might be interested. What he found was that David Gordon Green would not only want to helm Halloween, he’d want to collaborate with his longtime writing partners to craft the screenplay.
“We believe strongly at Blumhouse that you don’t need a great horror-movie director to make great horror movies,” the producer says. “You need a great movie director. I’ve admired David since his first film, George Washington, and I’ve reached out to him on multiple occasions hoping to lure him in. Halloween was when it finally happened. David fits very much into our philosophy: If you’re a great director, we can help you make a great scary movie.”
When it came to a chapter that would wake up the franchise, the producers leaned into this idea of this filmmaker not known for horror. “After having met so many directors and hearing several pitches, Miramax and I were able to bring Jason on board, and he deserves credit for bringing David to the picture,” lauds Akkad. “I have been a fan of David’s for years, and before even meeting I thought it would be an amazing opportunity. Jeff, Danny and David came in and pitched their take; the rest is becoming history.”
For Blum, it is the not knowing the why behind Michael Myers’ motivation that is so terrifying. He also wholly agreed with the collaborators’ idea that this should be Laurie’s final confrontation with Michael, and that the film would reset the series. “This was 100 percent their pitch to me. The idea I brought to Jeff, Danny and David was to make a new Halloween movie. I told them they should imagine what would excite them and what they would most like to see. It was their idea to make this movie a continuation of the first Halloween.”
Green recalls that hearing from Blum was one of the more pivotal episodes of his career. “I remember that moment vividly, getting up in the morning and seeing this email from Jason asking to have me in the Halloween franchise. I immediately felt strange, like when you’re standing on the edge of a cliff and your legs start to give out. It triggered a lot of my enthusiasm from when I was a kid and would sneak into movies I shouldn’t have been watching. Halloween was the pinnacle of all of them.”
Block, who has produced fare as varied as the thought-provoking District 9 and Elysium to the crowd-pleasing Bad Moms films, agreed with his fellow producers that Green was the ideal choice to direct the new film. “You see few directors move in genres as effortlessly as David has in the course of his career. He has this scholarly understanding and elevation of all that has come before. He has digested it and taken it a giant step forward; that’s set up a new bar of excellence.”
The producer shares that the match up between Michael Myers and Laurie Strode is one for which audiences have waited a long time, and Green surpassed his expectations. “You go to a movie for an absolute thrill ride and for the surprise. The journey, particularly in this one—and this confrontation that has been brewing for 40 years between these two—upon his release is very satisfying.”
Friends and Screenwriters: Fradley, McBride & Green
For writing partners Jeff Fradley, Danny McBride and David Gordon Green, the idea that the die hard fans of John Carpenter’s 1978 masterpiece would not be the architects of the story that brings Halloween back to life was simply unthinkable.
Close friends and creative collaborators since their days studying film at North Carolina School of the Arts, their premise was deceptively simple, but ingenious: They posited what would happen if Michael Myers had been captured at the end of Halloween. What if Laurie and Michael weren’t actually brother and sister, rather two strangers whose chance encounter changed the arc of both their lives? What would that do to the tale that began in the late ’70s, and how would it change the narrative of both heroine and antagonist?
Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, and raised in Texas, David Gordon Green attended The North Carolina School of the Arts where he studied film. He wrote and directed his first feature film George Washington, which won the New York Film Critics’ Circle Award for Best First Film before going on to win festival awards internationally. Additional films include All the Real Girls, Undertow, Snow Angels, Pineapple Express, Your Highness, The Sitter, Prince Avalanche, Joe, Manglehorn, Our Brand Is Crisis and Stronger. Gordon Green was a producer and director of the HBO series Eastbound and Down, creator of the MTV animated series Good Vibes, executive producer and director of the Amazon series Red Oaks, Hulu’s There’s… Johnny! as well as producer and director of the HBO series Vice Principals.
Jeff Fradley (Written by) was born in Anchorage, Alaska, grew up in Northern Virginia, and then moved back to Alaska in high school. He grew up making horror movies with friends in his backyard and a video camera. He went to film school at the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston Salem, North Carolina, where he met Danny McBride, David Gordon Green and John Carcieri. After college he moved to Los Angeles and worked a bunch of jobs from PA to shooting motion control in the camera department for documentaries, always still writing in his free time. McBride gave him a chance, letting him do punch ups on scripts, and he ultimately went to Ireland to help work on Your Highness. After that, he was a staff writer on Vice Principals, and soon after he, McBride and Gordon Green worked on Halloween. Fradley has most recently been working with the Rough House crew on a new show for HBO, The Righteous Gemstones.
Actor-writer-director Danny Mc Bride has become a multi-hyphenate in the truest sense of the word and is generating a full plate of varied and interesting projects. McBride and Jody Hill co-founded Rough House Pictures with director David Gordon Green. They all met at the prestigious North Carolina School of the Arts and have been collaborators for over 20 years.
Like so many whose gateway drug to horror was Halloween, Fradley sums his feelings on an introduction to unknowable evil: “I remember Michael Myers scared the shit out of me. I didn’t understand who this man with the white mask was, and that stayed with me.” Reflecting on the movie’s influence on his career, the writer and producer states: “I became obsessed with it as a kid, and that turned into my running around with a video camera—making our own version of Halloween.”
McBride gives that he and his fellow writers had no interest in remaking Halloween, but were drawn rather to moving the story in a never-before-considered direction.
“We thought that Laurie Strode was an interesting way in, so why don’t we find a new timeline that can connect to the first movie…and explore a different path for her. We knew that if we were going to take a big swing like this, we should change things up so that we didn’t walk down the same one others have.”
As they wrote, they didn’t yet have Carpenter’s final blessing on their treatment, and had no idea if Laurie Strode herself, the fearless Jamie Lee Curtis, would be interested in returning to the character that has demarcated her professional career and elicited compassion and respect from legions of fans.
“We tried to write a character that we thought would be interesting for her as an actress to portray,” explains McBride. “I thought it was a cool way for her to revisit that character and, honestly, the death Laurie got in Resurrection just didn’t seem suitable. It seemed like there was a way to beat that.”
Script in hand and beads of sweat on their brows, the friends finally had the chance to bring their story to the master of horror himself—who has served as creative consultant on other chapters of Halloween, but hasn’t since directed another film in the canon. “We met John when we pitched him our take,” says McBride.
“It was nerve-wracking to go to one of your idols and say: ‘You created Michael Myers and Laurie Strode, and now we have the audacity to think we have an idea. Here’s where the story could go from where you left it off…’ He was very receptive to it and kind to us. That was the best we could have ever hoped for.”
It was vital to the three men that Carpenter be on board. If not, they figured, what was the point? “If we were going to be as authentic and honorable to John’s 1978 movie as we said we were, we had to have his blessing; we had to kiss the godfather’s ring,” sums Green. “The meeting went great, and he had some ideas and some concerns. Like any healthy creative conversation, we talked through it.”
That’s when the professionalism went out the door, and the guys went full fanboy. “At one point, his cell phone goes off while we’re talking,” Green adds, “…and it’s the theme from Halloween. That’s when I lost it. I kept it cool until then, but that’s when I realized just where I was and who I was talking to. Then, once we knew he was on board, it was time for the next challenge of the conversation: to convince him to do the score.”
Fradley recalls the day the executive producer arrived on the Halloween set during shooting, and it was déjà vu for both producer and star: “When Carpenter came and met with Jamie, we were filming a scene where Laurie runs outside and faces Michael Myers. Jamie explained that she got the same feeling she had 40 years ago, and that it brought her back to Carpenter’s set. There was a similar scene on that movie, and when she was filming our version, she had all those emotions rush back.”
Little in their careers to-date could prepare the writers for the reunion of those who’d created the terrifying masterpiece so many years ago. “We devoured documentaries, books, everything we could get our hands on with regard to Halloween,” McBride says. “We knew a lot about the making of it, but to see the personalities interact in person—to watch John and Jamie Lee greet each other, bullshitting with Nick Castle—was a small peek into three people who created something so iconic that it has stuck around for this long.”
For his part, Green found himself tongue tied many days during production. “What I could never get past was the 12-year-old in me who was excited to be on set with Jamie Lee—mumbling his way through a conversation with John Carpenter and laughing hysterically when Nick Castle showed up. The realization of so many of these childhood dreams was evident when I walked onto set. This was something I brought to this project, and a big part of my enthusiasm for it.”
At the end of the day, there were only two people they knew they had to duly impress: Curtis and Carpenter.
Fortunately, both were fans of the script and ultimately the film itself. “They’ve written some fascinating new characters, and they’ve cast the movie well,” lauds Carpenter. “There are some good actors in this film, and the whole movie’s just unusual. It has a quality to it. I told David: ‘Man. This is as good as I’ve seen since we first did the first movie. You hit it out of the park.’” I’m excited for audiences to see this. It is going to scare the shit out of you. I guarantee it.”
With production wrapped, Green reflects on the journey that brought his team to this Halloween. “So many people that were a part of every creative decision on this film were people I’ve known for 25 years. I’ve sculpted my cinematic diet and aesthetic with this group of collaborators. This was our first horror movie, so we all entered this experience with high expectations of each other, and a great sense of energy and optimism about what we thought we could create.”
The director concludes that the kindness and respect they were given by their on-screen and creative heroes are memories that will stay with him. “When you have a production that has that kind of positivity around—and the actors feel that, and the energy is coming from the opportunity of what we’re allowed to do in the arena that we’re playing in—it’s infectious. Everybody was working the hardest they’ve ever worked with the most love that they’ve ever applied to their craft.”