Re-imagining a horror classic can be a daunting task, especially when an iconic figure such as Michael Myers is the centerpiece. After seven sequels following John Carpenter’s 1978 classic, Halloween, it seemed the Michael Myers universe had exhausted its’ energies in producing worthy predecessors. Five years following the final installment, Halloween: Resurrection, Dimension Films greenlit a complete reboot helmed by musician/filmmaker Rob Zombie in 2006.
Written, directed and produced by Zombie himself, Halloween (2007) introduced an elaborate backstory to the Myers mythology serving as not only a reboot, but a prequel as well. With the Fall season around the corner, let’s celebrate Halloween‘s birthday.
“Zombie’s intention was not only to incorporate more original content by expanding the Halloween mythology, but to reinvent the characters…”
Coming off the success of 2005’s Devil’s Rejects, Rob Zombie seemed to be in a position of creative control, even with bigger budget studio projects. Roger Ebert emphatically defended the film, stating that “[Devil’s Rejects] desired to entertain and not merely to sicken, and its depraved killers were individuals with personalities, histories and motives”. Perhaps a more character driven film was exactly the type of story Zombie intended to portray when writing the script for Halloween.
Although the film is not a complete departure from Carpenter’s original classic, Zombie maintained not only the principal plot, but the iconic piano theme film score as well. In an exclusive interview with HalloweenMovies.com, Zombie was adamant that he respect the Halloween universe by discussing the reboot with Carpenter himself. Zombie stated, “I talked to John about it and he was very supportive. He basically said, ‘That’s great Rob, go for it and make it your own.’ What more do I need?”
Part of setting Halloween apart by creating a unique vision was by elaborating Michael Myers’ backstory. Zombie’s intention was not only to incorporate more original content by expanding the Halloween mythology, but to reinvent the characters, in particular, Michael Myers. In an interview with BBC News, Zombie explains his reasoning for the need to reinvent Myers by stating, “Halloween started off as a very terrifying concept, a terrifying movie. But over the years, Michael Myers has become a friendly Halloween mask, but I think the story and the situation is scary. All it needed was someone to come in and to take a totally different approach to make it scary again.”
Focusing on developing a terrifying and unique interpretation of The Shape, Zombie was also faced with the task of of finding the right actor to portray an adolescent version of Myers; such an important decision would help highlight Michael’s descent into madness, or at least reveal the evil brewing underneath.
Tyler Mane, who portrays Michael Myers in the film, lent his enormous stature and strength to the role as this gave the character a more menacing presence.
Halloween stars Malcolm McDowell as Dr. Samuel Loomis, Scout Taylor-Compton as Laurie Strode, Tyler Mane as Michael Myers, Daeg Faerch as ten-year-old Myers and Sheri Moon Zombie as Michael’s mother, Deborah Myers. Zombie’s adaptation for Halloween would include a departure from the characters in the original film, allowing the actors ample room for their own interpretation. Although the added original content would allow freedom for the new characters, reinterpreting original characters would seem less daunting as Zombie encouraged actors to reinvent them personally.
In a behind-the-scenes featurette titled, Meet the Cast, Zombie reflects on McDowell’s rendition of Dr. Loomis by stating “Malcolm McDowell hasn’t…and still hasn’t seen Halloween. So he has no frame of reference”. He continues, “He asked me if he should see it, and I said ‘No, because I want you, to be you, and I don’t want you at some point to be unknowingly be doing some sort of Donald Pleasence interpretation.” In accordance to Zombie’s claims, McDowell followed up with, “I wanted very much to get away from that, because, we’ve seen that and we don’t want to repeat. We agreed that It’d be much more fun if this character could bring a lighter side.”
In creating a model for Michael Myers, Zombie focused much of the first act of the film on backstory and possible (but slightly ambiguous) motives that led him back to Haddonfield in his adult years. Expanding on Michael’s early years would also allow the audience to have a better understanding of his evil and psychotic nature, adding to a timeline that could be easier to follow; Michael’s childhood, his adult years in the asylum and his return to Haddonfield. Tyler Mane, who portrays Michael Myers in the film, lent his enormous stature and strength to the role as this gave the character a more menacing presence.
In the Meet The Cast featurette, Zombie reveals, “I thought it was important to get someone who physically has to have a presence that’s intimidating, but is an actor, so he can do more than just lumber around like a big guy.” Tyler Mane adds to Zombie’s comments by stating, “I am the tallest and biggest Michael that there has been and I’m bringing that physicality to the role.” Yet as an actor, Mane was also faced with the task of conveying Myers’ psychotic and evil nature without dialogue, strictly through body language and movement behind the mask; which is done exceptionally well in my opinion.
Halloween was produced with a modest budget of $15 million dollars and would move on to box office success with a worldwide gross of $82.2 million dollars. During the film’s opening weekend, it would stand strong to collect $30.5 million dollars, at the time breaking the box office record for Labor Day weekend earnings, dethroning Transporter 2.
Start the Labor Day weekend off the right way by getting all your friends together and celebrating Halloween’s 11th birthday. If you haven’t had a chance to see the film, I’ve included a trailer below. You can also subscribe to the NOFS Podcast for awesome horror content. Stay ghoulish, friends!