On Halloween (2018), two masters of the genre in their own right, the incomparable John Carpenter and prolific producer Jason Blum, came together to help shepherd a brand new sequel for one of horror’s most beloved franchises. At the recent press day for the latest Halloween, which was co-written and directed by David Gordon Green, the duo discussed everything from what convinced Carpenter to come on board this newest chapter in the Halloween franchise to having Jamie Lee Curtis back as Laurie Strode to Carpenter’s involvement with creating the film’s stunning score, and so much more.
Look for Halloween (2018) to hit theaters later tonight, and be sure to check back here on Daily Dead for more from the cast and crew over the next few days.
What was the conversation that you guys had early on about doing this project together, and for John, what was it that made you want to come back into the fold?
Jason Blum: Here's what I said. I said, "John, I really want to do a new Halloween movie." And I went to the people who own the rights and told them that I really want to do a Halloween movie, but I have a couple of conditions. But the most important condition was that I'm not going to do it without John Carpenter. And they said to me, "We already approached John, and he's not doing it." And I said, "Well, I gotta meet with him, because I'm not doing it without him."
So, John is very direct. He gets to the point. We had about a 14-minute meeting. And the key, I think this is what changed his mind, I said, "John, they're gonna make this movie with or without us. I'm not doing it without you, so, if you don't do it, I'm not doing it, but they're still gonna do it." So I said, "We may as well join the party instead of letting them do it alone." And I think he said, "That might make a little sense." True or false?
John Carpenter: That's true. That's only part of it. He challenged me to not sit on the sidelines and criticize, which is very easy to do with these sequels that have been coming out. They're just awful. They've been awful. And I was sitting there, and he said, "Why don't you help?" So, I helped.
Did you ever think, in the beginning, that Halloween would not only last 40 years, but they would still be making new ones 40 years later, too?
John Carpenter: No, we were just making a movie back then. We didn't know anything. And, when the movie was released, out come these reviews, and they crapped on me. "Carpenter doesn't know how to direct," and it's unbelievable.
You yourself have, over the years, lamented your own decision to make Michael and Laurie brother and sister. Were you relieved that they were undoing that in this?
John Carpenter: Thank God [laughs]! But, you know, the reason I did that was because they sold the movie to NBC, to show on TV, and it was too short. I had to go back and shoot more material. I had nothing. Zero. So I made up this silly, stupid idea and no, I'm not kidding. I had nothing... it was stupid.
Jason, did you feel that was something of a challenge to undo this thing that has been a big part of the franchise for so many years now?
Jason Blum: I'll tell you something, I was really excited, making a Halloween movie, because there was so much frenetic energy around it. I had no idea what it would be. And it was 100 percent David Gordon Green and Danny [McBride]'s idea. I didn't have an idea to make a sequel, to do a reboot, to do any of any of that. It was 100 percent their concept, and all I did was love their concept, and they pitched the concept to John. And that was a critical part of the process, that obviously John gives his input and thinks the conceit was a good conceit. And he did. They took it from there, but it was really 100 percent their idea.
You said you wouldn't have done it without John. If Jamie Lee had said "no," what would you have done?
Jason Blum: I’m very glad we didn’t have to. And I don't want to speak for you, but we would have done it without Jamie Lee. We really wanted Jamie Lee Curtis, but she had quite publicly said before, "I'm never doing this again." And Jamie only did the movie because of David Gordon Green.
David and Danny wrote this script, and then David met with her and shared his vision with her. And she had actually had a meeting with Jake Gyllenhaal, who was in David's prior movie [Stronger], and Jake had said, "David is a real director and someone great to work with." So she agreed to do it. But, yes, I think we would have. Would you have?
John Carpenter: I don't know. But the part, it's a great part. She had to do it. I would have beaten her up if she didn't do it [laughs]. No, really though, it is a great part for her.
From your perspective, bringing in someone like David Gordon Green, I think for a lot of us in the horror community, we were like, "Oh, this is a really interesting choice." Clearly it worked, because he really delivered something that feels authentic to the first movie. But going into this, what was it about him or his pitch where you realized, "This is the guy that's basically gonna steer this ship in this new direction?"
Jason Blum: I have a fundamental belief that great horror movies come from just great directors. If you look at this guy, John has made great genre movies and made great movies outside of the genre, too. At Blumhouse, we have a big advantage because Hollywood really doesn't work that way, so when I look for directors, I really look for directors whose work I love. We make so many genre movies, the scares are kind of the easy part. The hard part of horror is the storytelling, the script, the acting, and all that stuff is in every movie. The horror part is the easier part, so we really look for great directors, and I've always admired David’s work, ever since George Washington. I've tried to work with him on a bunch of different things; I've offered him other things, and he said "no," and this was the first time he said "yes."
How much talk was there about getting Nick Castle back? Because it's very rare that we ever see an actor reprise the role of Michael Myers, especially in the original franchise.
John Carpenter: David Gordon Green was sitting in my living room and said, "What's going on with Nick Castle? Does he have all his marbles?" And I said, "Yeah, he's great. He can do it." So they called him up, and they cast him. That's the best, smartest thing this production has done, is to get him back. He's so great in this role. Nick Castle's father was a choreographer, so Nick has this grace, I don't know where he got it, but he walks with this grace. It's just simple. A simple grace. I've never seen a monster walk like that. And you can't forget it, once you see it. So, here he is, he's back again.
So John, how much has Jamie Lee changed in the 40 years or so that you've known her, and how much has she stayed the same?
John Carpenter: I still think of her as the 19-year-old girl that I dragged into all of this craziness [laughs]. To me, she hasn't changed a bit. She's matured as an actress, but she's always had talent, just amazing talent. And she's got amazing energy. Jamie Lee's awesome, and she has always been awesome.
How was the music process for you on this film?
John Carpenter: My son [Cody] and my godson [Daniel Davies] and I had made four albums of original music, so it was a pretty easy process. It was just convincing Jason that I could do the music. He didn't want me. I begged him, I begged him to do it. I’m only kidding of course, but it was great fun. And I really enjoyed collaborating with David, too.
Stay tuned to Daily Dead in the coming days for more interviews with the cast and crew of the new Halloween, and in case you missed it, check here to catch up on all of our previous Halloween (2018) coverage!