Why We Need the Blumhouse Halloween Trilogy
The Slasher film, as we know it today, had its roots in two films released in 1960. One became known as its director’s masterpiece. The other ended the career of its director. The first, of course, was Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. The second was Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom. Psycho, which received a rather lukewarm reception from critics in 1960, has since been acknowledged as the most effective thriller from the undisputed master of the form, while Peeping Tom, reviled by critics upon its release, is now recognized not only as a very good film in its own right, but as an early model for the Slasher films that would proliferate the genre twenty years later.
While there would be other stepping-stones on the road to the definitive Slasher film—1980’s Friday the 13th—the first film to be generally accepted as such was Halloween, directed by John Carpenter and released in 1978. Carpenter combined the essence of the Italian Gialli, popularized by filmmakers such as Mario Bava and Dario Argento with the concept of an isolated group of young women menaced by an inexorable killer, as in Bob Clark’s 1974 film Black Christmas, and added a new element, one that elevated Halloween to a new level, and gave birth to a new type of Horror film. What Carpenter contributed to the form was the killer as an icon, an unnatural, unstoppable force. He gave us Michael Myers, and the Horror genre underwent a fundamental shift.
Halloween, and its iconic slasher Michael Myers, inaugurated the decade of the Slasher film, and though its numerous sequels never equaled the quality or the impact of John Carpenter’s original classic, the franchise laid the groundwork for every great Horror series of the decade.
In 2007, musician and filmmaker Rob Zombie rebooted the Halloween franchise, infuriating fans of the original with a portrayal of Michael Myers that transformed Loomis’ embodiment of pure, unadulterated evil into a horribly abused and neglected child who had little choice but to become a serial killer. As a study in the pathogenesis of psychopathy, the Zombie film and its sequel are interesting. As heirs to Carpenter’s legacy, and that of the original film, they failed … abysmally. And they left such a bitter aftertaste that most fans, the Unimonster included, believed that the franchise had met its final, ignominious end.
However, as any true Horror fan knows, no monster is ever really dead, and neither is a good Horror franchise. In 2015, the news reached fandom that Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunston, of Feast fame, were working on Halloween Returns, described as a recalibration rather than a reboot, for Dimension Films. The movie was to be set in 1988, ten years after the events of the first two films, and find Michael on Death Row, from which he escapes to hunt for fresh victims. For various reasons, the project failed to move forward, and Dimension lost the rights, which reverted to Miramax. Miramax, in conjunction with Blumhouse Productions, began planning a new take on the Halloween franchise, one that would return the series, and Michael Myers, to its roots.
From early in the process, Jason Blum, founder and CEO of Blumhouse, wanted Carpenter to be involved in the project, despite the director’s having publicly disavowed the franchise following the Rob Zombie films. Once Blum, David Gordon Green, and Danny McBride—the creative team behind the new film—explained their concept to Carpenter however, he agreed to sign on as executive producer.
Halloween, released in October 2018, retconned the sequels, from 1981’s Halloween II to 2009’s Halloween 2, out of existence, along with every storyline that had come out of them. Gone was Laurie Strode being the unwitting sister of Michael Myers. Forgotten was the Silver Shamrock, Jamie Lloyd, and the Thorn trilogy. Laurie no longer had a son named John, nor had she been killed in a fight with Michael atop a mental hospital. And most importantly, Rob Zombie’s misguided revisionist version of Michael Myers, a version that stripped out everything that made Michael so frightening and iconic, was now history.
The fans responded with enthusiasm to the Blumhouse Halloween, an enthusiasm that the franchise hadn’t seen since 1981. By the time the opening weekend had ended, the sequel, Halloween Kills, had been greenlit. By early 2019, the sequel had become two, with Halloween Ends scheduled for release a year after Halloween Kills. While …Kills wasn’t as well received as its predecessor had been, with Box Office numbers no doubt depressed by the film’s day-and-date release on the Peacock streaming service, it has nonetheless made its fans happy with what they’ve seen so far, and eager for what’s still to come.
And the genre needs that eagerness. The fans need that eagerness. It has been a long time, decades perhaps, since the Horror genre has had a franchise that inspired that level of excitement in fans, and I for one have missed it. For one who has happy memories of looking forward to the latest Halloween, or Friday the 13th, or Nightmare on Elm Street movie hitting the screen at my local theater, these movies revisit those times with an effectiveness and immediacy that outweighs the quality of the movies themselves; but then, quality was never the reason we loved these films. Just as we eagerly awaited Halloween II, and Friday the 13th Part III, and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, despite the fact that they were hardly great movies, we now look forward to the release, next year, of Halloween Ends—despite the problems of Halloween Kills. And the movie did have problems, make no mistake.
But perhaps it’s right that it did. Perhaps it wouldn’t have been a proper sequel if it had been the equal of the 2018 film. They upped the body count, they made Michael even more dangerous and frightening, they made the action more exciting. If the story suffered, if the plot was somewhat divorced from logic and common sense, if everyone in Haddonfield with a firearm made Imperial Stormtroopers look like Olympic Shooting Gold Medalists, well—that’s what you expect from a sequel.
And we were there, waiting in line to see it, and we’ll be back next October, just as eager. Because that’s what a good franchise does—that’s why we love them. A good Horror franchise is more than the sum of the individual movies. It transcends the worst of the series, and elevates the best. We complained, we bitched, and we moaned about Friday the 13th, Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, but we were back four years later for Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. Franchises are like family—we might not always like them, but we always love them. For good or for bad, they’re ours.
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Creature Feature © D. Dyszel 2021
Dick Dyszel - Voice Actor