Interview: 'Halloween' Director David Gordon Green

Interview: 'Halloween' Director David Gordon Green

 

He's baaaack!

It's been almost 10 years since psycho killer Michael Myers has graced us with his presence on the big screen, but the latest installment of the Halloween series pretends that it's been much longer between visits. Set 40 years after the original John Carpenter classic hit theaters, this new Halloween -- produced by Jason Blum and directed by David Gordon Green -- forgets about all those other sequels by telling a story about Myers' return to Haddonfield decades after that fateful night long ago. This time, instead of being chased by a masked killer, the surviving victim of the original, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), uses Myers' resurgence as a chance to get even and rid herself of her one-time attacker for good.

To celebrate advance tickets going on sale for Halloween here at Fandango, we spoke with director David Gordon Green about what it was like resurrecting a slasher-movie icon, and what this movie means for future Halloween sequels. We also dig into the Myers mythology, tease deleted scenes and learn about a few Easter eggs fans will definitely need to keep an eye out for.

 

Warning: This interview features some spoilers for Halloween. If you want to go in absolutely clean, skip this and come back after you watch the film in theaters on October 19.

 

Fandango: This is the first sequel you've directed, and the first movie that's been part of an existing franchise. So what was it that sold you, or who was it that sold you, and then how did you sell Jamie Lee Curtis?

David Gordon Green: To me, it was an opportunity to make something that was very personal on one level, but also it appealed to me because I'm kind of self indulgent in that way. But I'm a huge Halloween fan and grew up with the films. It also had what I knew would be a universal appeal. It's always been a struggle through my career to try to find something that makes me happy [and] that an audience also responds to. I think of the 13 films I've made, only one of them has connected commercially with audiences. So, I was on the lookout.

It's like, can my taste be not so fringe? And I do happen to really love the original Halloween. When Jason Blum sent me an email that literally just said "Halloween?", somehow I knew what he meant, and I knew I was going to do it, and I was chomping at the bit. It didn't take long before Danny McBride and I had some ideas, and we said, we want to go to [John] Carpenter with them. We want to go to Jamie Lee with them, and we want to make this an old school movie in a new way.

 

Fandango: Was it tough to get Carpenter and Jamie Lee? Who is tougher out of the two of them?

David Gordon Green: Neither of them were tough. We went in there with such enthusiasm and passion and knowledge of the franchise, and appreciation of Carpenter's work and Jamie's career that ... I think there was some point where they were excited by our enthusiasm. I think it happened pretty quick. Jamie, I had a conversation with her one night, sent her the script. She called me the next morning and she was onboard. John, we went to his house. We told him the idea. He said he liked the idea. We also said, we want your thoughts, we want you to do the music, we want you involved. And he just paused and looked at us and said, "Okay, let's do it."

I think, for him, it's like, you know someone's going to do it, and it's easy to step away and not be involved, but maybe if you are, it will have a little bit more of your identity and your intentions and the honor of your original work. So, it was a short conversation, and an amazing collaboration for the last year and a half.

 

Fandango: Was it an easy decision to forget about all the other Halloween sequels and how they built upon the mythology? Did you ever have a version where they were brother and sister?

David Gordon Green: We did. I started that way. Danny always said, "Let's just be a sequel to the first one." But I really liked Halloween II a lot. So, it hung around for a while until we realized that it was just more of an obstacle that we were trying to wedge in there. And the second we took it out, we realized how much scarier it became if it wasn't an agenda, there wasn't anything personal. Michael was the raw essence of evil. The advice that Carpenter gave was, keep it simple and make it relentless. And that's what we did.

Fandango: What's great about the film in that way is that instead of Myers getting out and chasing Laurie, he gets out and she chases him.

David Gordon Green: That's right. And we didn't have to worry about a bunch of coincidences, or how he's going to do his detective work. Once you let him out of his cage, he's doing his thing, and then it's up to her to try to coordinate that face off.

 

Fandango: One thing I'm personally fascinated with is how you come up with the ways Michael Myers kills. Do you first decide where he is and then think about what would logically be around him, or do you come up with a list of funky ways for him to kill and then build a story around those?

David Gordon Green: It goes both ways. There's certain things like, there's a kid that gets impaled on a fence, and you can can Google that. There's an image that I saw maybe 20 years ago that haunted me, [and it's] of a kid trying to climb over a fence and he slipped, and it goes through his chin and out of his mouth. So, that's just been in my subconscious for so long that I thought, hmmm. We did have a little list of interesting ways we could kill people, and then we try to find them. We'd be along for the ride, and sometimes it's a slight homage to the original film, and other times it was just a fresh and innovative inspiration that we would have.

 

Fandango: That's one of my favorite scenes in the movie, actually, is the fence impaling. I feel like it really encapsulates the movie, in terms of how you build layers upon layers. It starts off funny. Then it's a kind of nervous funny, then it's scary, then it's gory. And then, it modernizes it because of the framing device of the motion sensor. Was it hard to balance all of these different kinds of tones in there?

David Gordon Green: I have to say, being my first horror film, and Danny's as well, we were kind of just throwing all ideas that we could at it, saying, one of them has got to work and we'll figure it out in the editing room. Gore was a big thing. We didn't know how gory we wanted the movie, but we have Christopher Nelson, and incredible makeup effects artists. Let's film it, and then if it's too much we'll pull back. Then, we just decided in the editing room, well, certain people, you don't want to see a graphic death. Other people, it can't be grisly enough. And the original film is very restrained in that respect. But we did push the envelope a little bit with some of our grotesqueness.

 

Fandango: You forget about the other sequels, but you do have nods to them throughout. Do you have a personal favorite reference that makes you giddy every time you see it?

David Gordon Green: Wow. There's so many. There's the reference of the mask in Season of the Witch, Halloween III. The mask that you see some trick or treaters running around with. One very subtle Easter egg is the song that the boy and his father, when they're driving to the bus, with the escaped inmates, the song that's playing on the radio ... We did a song, basically our version of a song that Jamie Lee sings in the original Halloween, "I Wish I Had You All Alone", She kind of mutters to herself as she's walking down the sidewalk. Then, we had a band cover it as if it was a real song from 1978.

 

Fandango: That's awesome. So, you must have watched and studied all of the other movies while you're writing this, even though you weren't including them in the story.

David Gordon Green: I've seen them all anyway, but just to kind of make sure that, either we're homaging with sincerity or we're avoiding similarity.

 

Fandango: Yeah. Another scene that stands out is the one where Myers first shows up in Haddonfield. He walks through a couple of houses and you track him in one shot. How did that come together, and why did you choose to shoot it the way you did it? 

David Gordon Green: Well, Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley and myself wrote the script, and we were just looking for a transition between a couple of sequences, and I wanted to check in with Michael. I said to Fradley as we're leaving one day, "Hey, why don't you just write a transition?" He checks in with Michael, and then we get back the next day, and he's written this very specifically detailed scene, kind of inspired by Halloween II.

But then, we'd take it further, and I just really loved what he'd written. Literally, in the script, it's all one shot, and we're trying to choreograph it and stage it in a very low-budget movie. We only have 25 days to shoot this movie. That was certainly our most ambitious sequence. Then, as we started getting in, rehearsing it with camera and with actors, it kind of took on its own life.

Fandango: Yeah, it's a gorgeous scene. Myers himself is elusive. You never see his face or hear his voice, but they talk about using his voice throughout. Did you ever consider showing us more of him? As a fan, would you want to see more of him?

David Gordon Green: I think that less is more of him. We look at him like Jaws, the shark, you know, in the original film. You kind of want to keep him mysterious and in shadows. There was a version of the script where we actually alluded to him speaking.

 

Fandango: Oh, really?

David Gordon Green: And only Allison would have heard it. It's actually after that kid gets impaled on the fence, he stands there, and then he was ... We were going to hear him say something muffled. But when we got to set, we were like, yeah, we can't do that. It seems artificial. It feels forced. Let's just keep him pure and honest.

 

Fandango: So you would've played with this notion that he only spoke to his victims?

David Gordon Green: There's a recurring enthusiasm from the reporter at the very beginning before we cut to the title, and again, his Dr. Sartain, the last words he says is, "Say something." There's a desperation for people to get him to say something. I think I was one of those people that wanted him to say something. It sucks. It's really difficult to write Michael Myers, because he's not expressive. He doesn't do anything.

He's not motivated by anything. He's just moving forward, and there's only so much character he actually has to inhabit. So, there's always the temptation to try something weird with him, but I think our restraint was probably wise, in keeping him very mannered, and along the lines of the rules that Carpenter established in the previous film.

 

Fandango: Yeah. Myers does have a wicked sense of humor, though. He kind of taunts her with the teeth. He stuffs a guy in a closet. He does sort of have this wicked sense of humor that's in there somewhere.

David Gordon Green: Yeah, he does. And he always does these little art projects. We always alluded to like, you know, in the original film, he takes his sister Judith's gravestone and carries it away, puts it in someone's bed, and dresses it up like a ghost with glasses. He has these strange, playful details about him. It's just about finding that line. You don't want it to be super silly, but you want to acknowledge that there's a strange wit about him. It's almost like a cat toying with a ball of yarn. You don't want him to be super imaginative, but he does have his weird way of doing some performance art.

 

Fandango: Are there a lot of deleted scenes or deleted kills that we should look forward to on the home entertainment release?

David Gordon Green: Let me see. There's not any deleted kills, I don't think. We just started assembling that, so I'm going to be doing that next week. There's some good scenes, and there's some scares that we didn't use. There's a good shower scene we didn't use. So, yeah, there's some stuff that, when we got into the length of the film, pacing and things like that, and so we took out some stuff that's really good, but I think the pace of the film was best serviced without.

 

Fandango: Right on. Will you and Danny do a commentary for it?

David Gordon Green: Yeah, we should probably ... It seems like a shame not to, while we remember all the weirdness that happened during making this movie. It was a pretty fun shoot.

 

Fandango: Speaking from a fan's perspective, should they make more Halloween movies?

David Gordon Green: Should they? Yeah!

 

Fandango: Where would you like to see them go from here?

David Gordon Green: That's a good question that I might actually have the key to. So, I don't want to say so much. I think Michael Myers has found his way into monster movie history lore, like the Mummy and Wolf Man and Creature from the Black Lagoon. Michael Myers has just joined their ranks. We'll forever be able to enjoy the interpretations, the expansions of the mythology.

 

Fandango: So, if it does really well and they want to do another one and they come to you, you'd certainly be open to entertaining that idea then?

David Gordon Green: I got a lot of ideas, and it's super fun thinking of the rules and the parameters of this franchise. It's a fun playground and I'd be thrilled.

 

 

Halloween is in theaters on October 19. You can snag your tickets for the film now right here at Fandango.

 

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