Halloween director David Gordon Green on taking the reins and doing John Carpenter’s original justice
If you had to guess the identity of the director tasked with resurrecting the Halloween franchise, chances are you’d work through most of Hollywood before alighting on David Gordon Green. He’s the indie wunderkind who these days oscillates between daft comedies and impactful dramas. Horror has been conspicuous by its absence. But that’s without reckoning on the number Michael Myers did on Green as a teenager. “I was a very sensitive kid, and it got under my skin,” he admits of John Carpenter’s Halloween. “The relentlessness of it horrified me.”
So, when Blumhouse invited pitches for a new instalment, Green and his long-time collaborator Danny Mcbride leapt to the head of the queue with a take that would wipe out all previous sequels and re-establish Myers as the daddy of movie slashers. “There’s no Freddy Krueger fun,” adds Green. “It’s literally a face that gives you nothing, that says nothing, that comes from nowhere. It’s a dude with a knife in your house. That’s really scary.”
All that remained, then, was to come up with a name for the movie. Sadly,
David Gordon Green’s John Carpenter’s Halloween wasn’t considered. “That would be really good,” he laughs. “Halloween II: The Third was another one we suggested. In the end, out of simplicity, we said, ‘Let’s just call it Halloween.’” Simple. To the point. Michael Myers would approve.
How did you initially get involved?
Well, you can blame Jason Blum. [Laughs] I’d known him for a while socially and he’d
known that I was interested in making a horror movie. He and I are workaholics and work crazy hours so I woke up very early one morning to an email that said “Halloween?”. And anyone can interpret that in any number of ways but I knew exactly what he was talking about, I knew exactly what I was going to do and I knew exactly that we’d be having this conversation.
What was your first experience of watching the original? I heard it involved vomit?
Oh yeah, I barfed. I might not have even finished the film. I don’t recall. I was at a friend’s sleepover party and I was not allowed to see it but I watched it anyway and then I got very ill, from guilt and fear. And vomited. Then I called my parents to come and pick me up and told them what had happened. Confessed my crimes. That began my disturbed relationship with a movie that really messed me up.
The original had very little on screen violence or gore. You’ve obviously ramped that up — was that always your intention?
I didn’t necessarily intend it. But then Christopher Nelson, our make-up and FX artist, was so good and we’d bring him to set and I’d be like well, let’s just film it and see how it goes. Sometimes we’d have the kill off camera and sometimes we’d be discreet with a sound effect but then there were some delicious opportunities to get a little gross. I only tried to pull that card when I thought it would be fun for the audience.
How was working with Jamie Lee Curtis?
It was incredible. And she is committed to this performance and character as anyone is to anything. I adore her for her energy and her passion. Her friendliness to the crew — you’ve never seen someone as iconic as Jamie is as giving and pleasant to be around. Bringing coffee trucks up to the crew who are shooting all night long. And if someone is down, she is there to bring them back up. She really motivates the crew in a way that I’ve never seen before. It’s a beautiful thing to witness.
When did you first talk to John Carpenter about the project?
Danny [Mcbride, co-writer] and I went to his house with Jason and sat down and said, “Hey, here’s an idea we have. We don’t want to make it without you. We want you to be involved. We want you to do the music. What do you think?” And got his ideas. And got his reaction. And now he seems very happy with the movie and that’s the biggest thrill of all. That’s number one, honestly. In a weird way, that’s all that matters.
It must have been amazing to have him involved in the process…
Yes. There’s nothing more surreal! I’d be in South Carolina where I was editing and I would Skype him and he’d be watching the movie and commenting on it. [Laughs] It was super trippy having him narrating and giving ideas on how
I could tighten up the movie. And then going into the studio so he could present his new music to me! And like he was nervous? Come on! [Laughs] It was energetic, lively and collaborative, as you can imagine. And at the same time we were using music that was so ingrained in my DNA that every time it played, I just wanted to dance.
Curtis Here: and Jamie director Lee David Gordon Green on set. Below: Original Michael Myers Nick Castle dons the mask one more time.