By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Horrormeister Jason Blum considers himself among the legion of fans of John Carpenter’s original “Halloween,” and perhaps an even bigger admirer of the venerable filmmaker himself. So, when the idea of making another “Halloween” movie began to take shape, Blum knew he wanted Carpenter, who’d grown weary of seeing endless mediocre sequels to his 1978 slasher made, to be involved as well.
“I said, ‘John, they’re going to make this movie with or without us. I’m not doing it without you. So, if you’re not doing it, I’m not doing it, but they’re still going to do it,’” he recalls telling the famed filmmaker. “So, I said, ‘We may as well join the party instead of letting them do it alone.’ And he said, ‘That might make a little sense.’”
The two horror filmmakers are not only onboard for the newest “Halloween” iteration, so is the 1978 film’s original star Jamie Lee Curtis—who also vowed never to do another after 2002’s “Halloween: Resurrection.”
Blum serves as a producer and Carpenter is an executive producer on the David Gordon Green-directed film, which arrives in theaters Friday. Once again, serial killer Michael Myers is after one-time babysitter Laurie Strode. Only, this time Laurie, now a grandmother, is armed and ready to take on her lifelong adversary.
Blum and Carpenter sat down together at the Universal Studios Hollywood backlot to talk about making the newest sequel, which has been getting some of the best reviews in the longrunning franchise’s history. First off, they introduce each other.
Carpenter: This is Jason Blum, the most powerful producer in Hollywood.
Blum: This is John Carpenter, the greatest genre movie director of all time.
Q: What convinced you that this was the right move for this franchise?
Carpenter: Him (pointing to Blum). He’s a great salesman, a great convincer.
Blum: I said, “John, I really want to do a new ‘Halloween’ movie.” Before that, I went to the people who own the rights and I said, “I have a couple of conditions but the most important condition is that I’m not going to do it without John Carpenter.” They said, “We already approached John and he said he wouldn’t do it. And I said, “I gotta meet with him because I’m not doing it without him.”
Q: How did that meeting go?
Blum: John is very direct. He gets to the point. We had a 14-minute meeting.
Carpenter: He challenged me not to sit on the sidelines and criticize, which is very easy to do with the sequels. He said, “Why don’t you help?” I said, “Yeah, I can do that.” So, I helped.
Q: Did you expect 40 years ago that all these sequels would follow that low-budget film?
Carpenter: No. We were just making a movie. When the movie was released, out came these reviews and the (critics) ****** on me. They said, “Carpenter doesn’t know how to direct.”
Q: Were you ever going to direct this movie?
Blum: He did direct it—the original. There will never be a better “Halloween” than that.
Q: Over the years, you’ve lambasted your own decision to make Michael and Laurie brother and sister. Were you relieved they ignored that plotline in this film?
Carpenter: Thank God! The reason I did that was because they sold the show to NBC and it was too short. I had to go back and shoot more material. So, I made up this silly, stupid idea.
Blum: I was really excited to make a “Halloween” movie because there was so much frenetic energy around it. I had no idea what it would be. It was 100 percent David Gordon Green’s idea. I didn’t have an idea to make it a sequel or a reboot or any of that. It was 100 percent their concept and all I did was love their concept, and they pitched the concept to John (Carpenter). That was a critical part of the process that John give his input and think that the conceit was a good conceit, and he did and we took it from there.
Q: What would you have done if Jamie Lee Curtis decided not to return?
Blum: We would have done it without Jamie Lee. We really wanted her but she had quite publicly said, “I’m never doing this again.” Jamie did the movie because of David Gordon Green. David and Danny (McBride) wrote this script and then they met with her and shared his vision with her. She had a meeting with (her friend and godson) Jake Gyllenhaal who was in David’s prior movie and he (assured her) that David is a real director, someone who was great to work with, so she agreed to do it.
Q: Would you, John?
Carpenter: I don’t know. It’s a great part. She had to do it. I would have beaten her up if she didn’t agree to do it.
Q: How much has Jamie Lee Curtis changed since you first met her? How much has she stayed the same?
Carpenter: I still think of her as a 19-year-old girl that I directed. To me, she hasn’t changed a bit. She’s matured as an actress but she’s always had talent. And she’s got amazing energy. Jamie Lee’s awesome and always has been awesome.
Q: How tough was it getting Nick Castle (who plays the masked Michael Myers) back?
Carpenter: David asked me, “What’s happening with Nick Castle?” And I said, “Yeah, he’s great. He can do it.” So, they called him up and they cast him. Awesome. That’s the best, smartest thing this production has done—to get him back. His father was a choreographer so Nick has this grace. I don’t know where he got it. When he walks, it’s just simple grace. I’ve never seen a monster walk like that. You can’t forget it once you see it. So, he’s back again.
Q: How was it bringing David Gordon Green onboard?
Blum: I believe that great horror movies come from great directors. John has made great genre movies and great non-genre movies. We have an advantage because Hollywood doesn’t really work that way. I always look for directors whose work I love. The hard part of horror movies is the storytelling, the script, the acting that’s in every movie. The horror parts are the easy parts. So, we always look for great directors and I’ve always admired (Green) ever since he made “George Washington.” I’ve tried to work with him on a bunch of different things. I’ve offered him other things and he always said, “No.” This was the first time he said “Yes.”
Q: Did you think it was time to update the characters to reflect what’s going on in current pop culture?
Carpenter: To me, Michael Myers is like Godzilla. Godzilla is an all-purpose monster. He was a bad guy and then he became a good guy. He was beloved by children and then he was evil again. Michael Myers can fit into any scary slasher. He’s blank. He may be human. He may be supernatural. We don’t know. David (Gordon Green) made him human. He’s scary. The look of him—he’s scary. Other than that, I don’t have a clue why he works (as a villain).
Q: You filmed this in Charleston, South Carolina. Would you say South Carolina is the new Georgia in terms of bringing in big Hollywood productions like “Halloween?”
Blum: We give a lot more control to our directors than is typical in Hollywood. We shot in South Carolina because David wanted to shoot there and because of the (production) rebate. It’s not as good as the rebate in Georgia. The interesting thing about South Carolina is that Danny and David are starting something. There is an enormous amount of (moviemaking) going on there. It isn’t the new Georgia yet but maybe someday.
Q: How did you feel about the shots that are homages to shots in your original film?
Carpenter: I didn’t hate them.
Q: Why do you think this franchise has been able to overcome a few bad sequels?
Blum: It’s because of John’s movie. The movie is timeless and has touched a nerve in a way that almost no other horror movie has. When a bad sequel comes out, a little time goes by and people remember how much they loved the first movie, and they want more of it, no matter how many bad sequels there are. It’s unique that way. Most franchises don’t survive sequential bad sequels.
Q: Did you want any changes made to the script?
Carpenter: My involvement was minimal. I suggested one scene that they’d written may not work, and they took it out. I won’t tell you what the scene was.
Q: Which of your movies do fans want to talk to you about that you’re surprised about?
Carpenter: It always changes; it’s never the same movie. A lot of people want to talk about “They Live” nowadays because of the politics going on. That’s great.
Q: When are you going to direct another horror movie?
Carpenter: I don’t know. I need a good story. I don’t write anymore. That’s hard work.