David Gordon Green has now completed his Halloween trilogy. When you take a step back from it, it is unusual for a renowned director to all of a sudden decide to make three horror movies. It would be like if, say, Jeff Nichols (also Green’s film’s school pal) announced one day he’s going to make three Leatherface movies. Actually, this sounds like a pretty good idea. Maybe someone can talk him into doing this.
Halloween Ends (which comes out this Friday in theaters and on Peacock), the final film of Green’s trilogy – the “Ends” in the title is right there in case there’s any doubt) – is a strange movie, which Green admits. And Green doesn’t deny this is a response to the criticisms of Halloween Kills just being Michael Myers going around killing people the whole movie. (For people unaware, this is what Michael Myers does.) Well, now we get a movie in which Michael doesn’t even show up until almost halfway through the movie and he’s got himself a new pal.
Halloween Ends, which is set in 2022, as opposed to the last two movies that both took place in 2018, starts with a flashback to 2019 in which a terrible accident happens while Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell) is babysitting. To the point he, over the following years, is shunned by the town and often beat up by local teens. Though, eventually, he starts dating Laurie Strode’s (Jamie Lee Curtis) granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak). The two connect over the fact the town both looks at them as these odd people. And things are going okay until Corey has a run-in with Michael Myers and, after this encounter, things get pretty weird.
Ahead, David Gorgon Green takes us through how and why he wanted to end his Halloween trilogy the way he did, even though he already knows there’s no way he can make everyone happy because they can’t just remake the original 1978 movie again. Also, he explains why he had to get permission from Jean-Claude Van Damme to release the version of the movie you will see this coming weekend.
You did it. You have now made three Halloween movies.
I made three Halloween movies. For me, as a filmmaker, it’s really nice to have the security of a fan base. There’s a lot of people that say, “is that daunting?,” or, “is that intimidating to have these passionate fans?” But, for me, it gives me a playground to be able to know that there are people out there that are going to tune in and have their own passions – love it or hate it – but they’re going to engage in what I’m creating.
That’s interesting you say security, because on social media there were a lot of opinions about Halloween Kills and I felt in the minority defending it. Is that security?
Well, first of all, it sounds reassuring that I’m not on social media. But I think that maybe it would be the opposite, and I’m that security for myself. But I’ve made a lot of moves that did not connect with audiences, and there’s a certain pride to having a vision and going in deep and creating something…
I guess my point is that this is a very opinionated fan base, let’s put it that way.
And I love the conversation. People like you and I know that engaging with our friends, or someone that we don’t even know that has an opinion about something, we want to give ours, we want to hear theirs. We want to challenge that. We want to agree with that. We want to tell them something they don’t know. We want to learn from something they do know. I think that as a filmgoer, a film fanatic that I’ve been since I was six years old, that’s something that’s really important.
And this is the first time as a filmmaker I’ve gotten to have that type of stimulus from the creative standpoint of knowing that there’s going to be people, regardless of what I do, if I just film a Michael Myers mask for an hour and a half, people are going to show up and look at that art project and they’re going to think and they’re going to discuss. And then the fact that I can have an idea, or put a twist, or add a character or bring a character back, these just trigger things within people. And I can’t tell you how strange and interesting it is, even when it’s not “loving.” But to be able to have that interaction is a whole other type of creation.
Well, you mentioned filming a Michael Myers mask for an hour and people will show up. Are you nervous about this one a little bit because Michael Myers doesn’t really show up for almost an hour in this one? He certainly looms over it. But he doesn’t really show up for almost an hour and I remember thinking this is pretty bold…
But it has for me, in my opinion, I watched it yesterday for the first time in a theater. So, for me, it has the greatest Michael Myers moment that I’ve ever turned the camera on when he does activate. This movie has sometimes the blurry line between when I’m smiling along with it, when I’m scared of it, and when I’m laughing. There are moments of even camp and some strange, dramatically executed things that I think are tremendously funny.
Well, you said you’re not on social media and don’t see what people say, but a complaint about Halloween Kills was, “it’s just Michael Myers going around killing people.” And my defense is, “Yeah, that’s what he does.” But it seems like this movie is your reaction to that. “Okay, that’s not what you want? Now you’re going to get a really weird movie where he doesn’t even really show up until halfway through.”
And Michael has a buddy in this one. A protege almost. This is a weird movie and you know that.
Yeah. But the other reason I love the franchise is because it’s like, here’s this beautiful piece of property and you get to build your dream house on it. So there’s a lot of people, I do engage with fans a lot, and I even have been to conventions and things like that. And it really is fun to have those conversations. And a lot of the criticism that I’ll hear is just describing how they wish it was the original film. So it’s never going to be the original film again and nobody would want it remade anyway. But there’s an inherent emotional attraction to things that we were introduced, I say we, as film geeks, introduced to between, I’ll say, the age of 11 and 17, right?
Because you’ll hear someone say my favorite Halloween movie is Halloween 5. And then you’ll think, that’s interesting that that’s your favorite. How old were you when you saw it? “Well, I was 12 years old.” That’s because it had that taboo, that allure, that magnetism of genre that you were less critical then, right? And so now you just want people, things, movies to emulate Halloween 5.
To your point, when I was eight the first Halloween I saw was Season of the Witch, of all things. And I love it still, but it’s probably because I was that age, what you just said.
I agree wholeheartedly. And we stole our font from Halloween III: Season of The Witch.
And in Halloween Kills, I think that’s another reason that movie won me over so much is you did so many Season of the Witch references in it.
Yeah, it had a good bit of that. And these movies are also a test in indulgence, too. So when do you get indulgent in your fan service when you’re a fan? When do you get indulgent in a gross-out gag, a gratuitous kill because it looks awesome on set, even though you know it might not be in alignment with the original DNA of the Carpenter film? But would he have gone there if he could have afforded it in 1978? Or what are the boundaries that we create based on that, versus when do we want to break the rules that either John and Deborah established in ’78? Or we established in 2018? I’m of the opinion that you follow your gut and you surround yourself with a trustee group of colleagues that are going to creatively challenge you. And I’ve worked with the same people in all these movies, and then take chances and invite the audience to take a chance along with you.
Speaking of John Carpenter. Eagle-eyed viewers will notice at the beginning they are watching The Thing, directed by John Carpenter.
And remember in the original film when they’re watching the original The Thing?
Yes. The part I laughed out loud at, someone in this movie during an important scene is watching Hard Target. I love that movie.
Well, I was talking to the actor, Rick Moose, that plays the character of Ronald in the movie. It’s just amazing, he’s an ex-cop from Florida and I was asking him what his favorite movie was and that was one of his favorites.
So he got to decide? And he decided he’d be watching Hard Target?
And then it was a thing because we had to get JCVD to sign off on it. So somehow they tracked him down and he agreed to let use the film.
So it’s not John Woo has to agree? It’s Jean-Claude Van Damme who has to agree?
If your likeness appears on-screen. And we couldn’t use certain clips because they couldn’t find some of the stuntmen that were in that action sequence. So we had to edit around some of the people that we couldn’t find because they were stunt players in the movie. But I don’t know, I remember vividly seeing that as John Woo’s introduction, in some ways, to American audiences.
I believe the studio even put Sam Raimi on set with him because they didn’t know if he could do an American movie or not at the time. Raimi was like, “Yes, he can.”
So do you actually call Jean-Claude Van Damme? Who calls Jean-Claude Van Damme?
The clearance department.
Not that exciting, but it was a relief when we got it. Because I don’t like to do burn-ins on set if I can avoid it. I like to play it back so the actors can engage with what they’re watching. Particularly in this case, because it is a very subtly expressive actor. And so it came down to two days before we finally got it cleared and could use the clip live.
Having now watched your three Halloween movies, I have finally come to the conclusion … Michael Myers should be charged with murder.
It’s a really good idea. To the first degree!
Maybe if they did that at the beginning, we could have saved everyone some grief.
Yeah, the gavel would go down and the judge decides.
Throw the book at him.
Throw the book at Mike. He’s a naughty boy for real.
You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.