Longtime readers of Stereo Champions know we’re big fans of the Halloween films. Well…we like a few of them, tolerate others, and cringe at the mention of some of them. There have been ten films in the series since 1978. Originally there were eight in the original ‘timeline’ and then two really, really bad reboots directed by Rob Zombie. Today the news broke that there’s another Halloween film in the works. While you may have rolled your eyes already at the thought, let’s add that this time John Carpenter is coming back as executive producer. That’s right friends, Michael Myers is coming back.
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, the 68-year-old director/producer/musician who directed the original film said, “Halloween needs to return to its traditions. I feel like the movies have gotten away from that… Michael is not just a human being; he’s a force of nature, like the wind. That’s what makes him so scary.”
As the series went on, it became clear that the directors really took to heart the idea that Michael Myers is a force of nature. He survived being shot, burned, blown up, beheaded, and even came back from an ax to the face. Which is why the return of Carpenter is such a good thing. Carpenter’s subtlety is why the first film holds up. As the series went on, the deaths became flashier and as a result carried less weight. Myers inability to actually die (because the franchise still made money) took away any of the fun. Michael Myers has always been a force of nature – not death incarnate.
Halloween really propelled the slasher genre into mainstream popularity. But like imitators such as Friday The 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street as well as Halloween overstayed their welcome and wore out their public welcome as the villains of the movies couldn’t die. All of these series became inevitable parodies of themselves, each with their own particular low marks. The last Halloween film was released in 2009, a remake of Halloween II directed by Rob Zombie. (Remember what I said about low marks)
Since then the horror scene has moved into other territories. Obviously, the zombie film dominates video games, movies, and television. The Saw series carved their own niche with torture-porn horror. Movies like It Follows, The Babadook, and The Descent have breathed interest in psychological horror. The Cabin In The Woods only works because every horror movie that has come before sets that film up to perfectly deconstruct the genre. And if it’s not being deconstructed, it’s being remade (Poltergeist). Most modern slashers fail to make an impact.
The best example of a modern horror film that feels like Halloween would be 2014’s It Follows - a terrifying slow burn which relies on tension and contains plenty of subtext. Many critics at the time noted how the film clearly took inspirations from Carpenter (who took inspirations from Hitchcock). His comments about returning to the traditions are comforting. The last film in the series Carpenter was involved with was Halloween III: Season Of The Witch, which notably tried and failed to make the Halloween brand stand apart from that of its central villain.
In recent years, Carpenter has been relatively dormant and is focused more on his music career (Carpenter recorded the music for Halloween as well as the Escape From New York series). His last directorial outing was the less than well-received The Ward. We’ll have to wait for more details to come about what is next for Carpenter and Michael Myers. Will the new Halloween pick up after Halloween II? Will Laurie Strode and Dr. Loomis return? Longtime staple Donald Pleasence who played Loomis passed away in 1995 and it would be hard to imagine them recasting such an iconic character. (Or you could do what Rob Zombie and Malcolm McDowell did with the character and turn him into a hack asshole capitalizing on the Haddonfield tragedy. Carpenter will serve as executive producer so the role of director is still up for grabs.
Nevertheless, Carpenter’s heart is in the right place. He told EW, “Thirty-eight years after the original Halloween I’m going to help to try to make the 10th sequel the scariest of them all.” Here’s hoping. We don’t know the exact release date yet, but we have a guess… Do you have any ideas who should direct the next Halloween? Let us know in the comments!