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Friday, October 15, 2021

‘Hellraiser’ Writers Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski Carve into the ‘Halloween’ Reboot They Pitched in 2012 [Phantom Limbs]

phantom limb /ˈfan(t)əm’lim/ n. an often painful sensation of the presence of a limb that has been amputated.

Welcome to Phantom Limbs, a recurring feature which will take a look at intended yet unproduced horror sequels and remakes – extensions to genre films we love, appendages to horror franchises that we adore – that were sadly lopped off before making it beyond the planning stages. Here, we will be chatting with the creators of these unmade extremities to gain their unique insight into these follow-ups that never were, with the discussions standing as hopefully illuminating but undoubtedly painful reminders of what might have been.

For this seasonally appropriate installment, we’ll be taking a look at an unproduced pitch for Halloween, a post-Rob Zombie series reboot penned in April of 2012 by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski, the screenwriting team behind Super Dark Times, this year’s excellent supernatural frightener The Night House (out now on Digital, Blu-ray available on October 19th), and Hulu’s upcoming Hellraiser film directed by David Bruckner. During our chat, the duo reveals how they were brought in to pitch on the property, the bold take they had on Michael Myers, and why it all never made it beyond their initial outline.

“It was early years,” Collins says, detailing how he and writing partner Piotrowski first came to pitch on Halloween. “I want to say it was like 2012, or something. We’d been repped for about two years at that point, but we hadn’t made any money as writers, and we both still had day jobs.

“I remember because I was working in a commercial production company office in Hollywood. And Luke, you were still a high school teacher. I remember we were doing a lot of this over Gchat during the day when we would both be at work. So we got this email saying that there was a guy from Dimension who was looking for writers for takes on both Hellraiser and Halloween. They came kind at the same time, which was really weird, and we prepared pitches for both of them. This was post-Blumhouse blowing up, so I think Bob Weinstein was just looking at all the shit that they had and going like, ‘Why aren’t we making more movies?’ And of course, the answer was he was terrible at running a company. He was bad at having opinions and giving notes, communicating with people, all that stuff.

“But there was basically a full court press to get all these projects in development. So we were on some list of cheap, fresh writers that could be harassed into overpreparing for this kind of thing. But it was basically just this thing that floated in.”

Piotrowski agrees. “I think it was just a cattle call. It was Dimension doing a cattle call for cheap writers. When did Rob Zombie’s Halloween II come out? 2009? So this was three years after.”

Tyler Mane as Michael Myers in Rob Zombie’s Halloween II (2009)

“Yeah,” Collins continues. “Everybody had been wondering like, ’Is he going to do another one?’ And so this was like the first indicator that, ‘Okay, no, Rob Zombie’s probably not doing it.’ We don’t know what to do, we don’t have any ideas, we’ve got to move on it.’ So it was really just given to us as a, ‘Just tell us anything.’

“And we put a lot of thought into it! About the philosophy of the whole thing, and what these kinds of movies should be like, and what would be fresh in terms of a Halloween movie at that point, having already had all these movies, and then the Rob Zombie movies. Which, I like both of those movies in a way. The second one was interesting. The director’s cut, anyway. It’s a super interesting deep mythology dive that … it didn’t seem like fans were super stoked on it.”

We were coming out of the found footage boom,” Piotrowski adds, “so we were very jazzed on the idea of a movie that wasn’t found footage, and the ability of a director to direct the hell out of a movie. That’s what would really elevate the movie, the way it was carried out and the idea of being able to use music and artistically composed shots instead of just the cinéma vérité style.

“Then, as Ben’s been saying, we were coming out of the Rob Zombie Halloweens and all of the history of Michael Myers and ‘Who is he?’ The brother/sister thing, and all this mythology. So our position was, and this is the part that’s going to piss the fans off, but it was just like, ‘Let’s get rid of all that shit that’s cluttering this up.’ If you’re going to reboot it, really dump out the box, look at that first movie and be like, ‘Why is the first movie good?’ You’re watching that first movie, and you don’t know why this guy is like this. He’s not a sad little kid with this backstory. He is a machine. He is The Shape. So our thing was, ‘We’re not gonna do another version of Laurie Strode, we’re not gonna do another version of Dr. Loomis, we’re not even really going to do another version of Michael Myers. Our treatment doesn’t ever call him Michael Myers. He’s always ‘The Shape.’

“It was really to want to get back to … you know, I taught high school at the time, so I’m really looking at my students. ‘What do my students know?’ They know Michael Myers wears this outfit and he kills people on Halloween. That’s all they really know about it. The people that are lining up to buy tickets, that’s all they really care about. And honestly, at the end of the day, that’s all that’s really scary about that first movie. You don’t know they’re brother and sister, you don’t know why he is the way he is. He’s just doing this, and that’s scary. Then it becomes this really suspenseful thing. That’s a very simple story.”

Michael Myers

The Shape in Halloween (2018)

Collins adds: “In a way, when we sat and thought about it, it was like, ‘What is scary about Halloween? What is the concept of the movie that’s scary?’ It’s like, ‘Well, what if one day out of the year, there was a serial killer who just killed a bunch of fucking people in one town, and then disappeared and was never caught?’ Like reapproaching the whole idea of why you should be scared of the day because of this rumor/myth/idea that there’s a guy that’s going to kill you on Halloween.”

“Very much kind rebranding the idea of The Shape as an urban legend,” Piotrowski says. “Almost like a creepy pasta, internet era kind of thing. It was rumor mill stuff, right? Because he’s not a serial killer that is wanting to be caught.”

Collins explains, “Because it’s like … if one town had an unsolved string of like seven murders that occurred over the course of Halloween and they never caught anybody, and then another town on the other side of the country had the same thing a few years later, I don’t know how many law enforcement officials would actually rush to declare there is a national level uncatchable serial killer. That’s the kind of hysteria that they would avoid doing. So the idea was that if this was occurring, it’s something that you would hear about from people that read about it on the internet a decade ago. So this was what it would really be like if there was a serial killer that only killed on Halloween.”

“We have characters listening to audio of a 911 call that was supposedly from this killer, and there was only ever one image of him,” Piotrowski says. “A blurry shot of the mask that looked almost abstract that was found on the phone of one of the victims. And the people on Reddit put together that, ‘Oh, here’s this 911 call, here’s this image.’ So the urban legend of The Shape is that every Halloween for the past several years, there’s been at least one horrific murder somewhere in the United States. People think there’s a connection, and it might all be the work of the same killer who they’ve taken to calling ‘The Boogeyman’ or ‘The Shape.’

“So there’s this online conspiracy community. ‘Maybe he’s not even human!’ ‘There’s a couple of homeless guys in Detroit who got killed, was that him? Or was that not him? We don’t know if we include that in part of his oeuvre.’ The next year, there was a girl walking home alone from a party, and that’s where the photo came from. Then there was an elderly couple in Maine, a whole family got killed in Chicago suburb the next year, then the entire third floor of an apartment complex in South Carolina the previous year. Then the most recent year, one of those victims escaped and ran down the street and was caught. That was the cold open in the movie. But that’s what the existence of this character was in culture, just this unstoppable force that would show up. And he shows up in our town for our characters to deal with.”

It’s here that Collins draws a comparison between their version of Michael and another iconic cinematic madman. “The whole pitch was … it takes place on Halloween, and it’s any small Midwestern town, but the thing in terms of the Michael Myers stuff that I was always really proud of is thinking of him as Chigurh from No Country For Old Men.”

Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Men (2007)

No Country For Old Men and Drive were the movies that we were referencing the most,” Piotrowski reveals. “That was the vibe we were going for before this whole slasher renaissance. We wanted to take these kinds of films that are very simple … Drive is a very simple movie. Honestly, No Country For Old Men is in some ways a pretty simple set up. But it is the follow through and the attention to detail in the sequences of violence, and the stylish nature … that was the kind of movie we wanted it to be.”

Collins continues. “Right from the beginning, we would see the character, we would just never see his face until he put the mask on. Intercutting with the characters in the first act, we’re seeing the back of the head of this guy, who’s hitchhiking and gets in the back of a pickup truck and rides into town. He’s this guy who goes by fate and ends up where he ends up, and then goes to work. You see him going about, getting coveralls, going into a store, getting some sort of weapon.”

“He’s always had the mask,” Piotrowski adds. “[Our approach] was, maybe he escaped from an asylum? Maybe he has a day job and he’s a regular person 364 days of the year? Maybe he’s a drifter that just goes around and does these things, maybe he’s a supernatural entity. I guess there’s a little bit of Heath Ledger Joker to him, but it was like – we don’t know where this guy comes from. He rolls in on the back of a black pickup truck that he hitchhikes into town on, beautiful orange sunset, and just jumps out of the car. And tonight’s the night. ‘I gotta get ready for the night.’ Then once the night begins, he does his … his art, or his work, or however it is that he views it. We don’t know, we don’t get to hear that.”

“He doesn’t talk,” Collins says. “He doesn’t comment on anything. Like Chigurh in No Country, you learn so much more about the character just by watching their competency, and watching their methodicalness. That was really appealing to us in terms of seeing the behavior defining the thing.”

Piotrowski agrees. “The Michael Myers of it all was very much that idea of stripping away all the cluttered mythology, because all it does, at a certain point, is start to make it less scary and uninviting for new audiences. Rob Zombie had just done it to such an exhaustive degree that it was like, ‘We don’t want to do that with the characters. We want to get back to the energy that the first movie had, when you didn’t know anything and you weren’t expecting anything.’

James Jude Courtney as Michael Myers in Halloween (2018)

“It wasn’t this big elaborate thing that people are going to be super protective of. Like, ‘Well, he can do that and he can’t do that, and he will or won’t do these things.’ Can he drive a car or not?”

“It doesn’t mean that, if we had done it, that we wouldn’t have eventually gotten to some of the old that old mythology,” Collins says. “Like, if you set it up right, you don’t have to discount anything. You just don’t need to comment on it. And if you’re going to get there in Part 2 or Part 3, then it’ll be even more satisfying. But that regardless for new audiences, as well as old audiences, it seemed like reintroducing them to why this is scary in the first place was really the only way to go with the character. And that the quality of the material would be good enough to attract a good filmmaker.”

“On the other side,” Piotrowski notes, “we talked a lot about the original Halloween and a lot of the late 70s, early 80s horror movies being at a time when the dream of suburbia was alive and well. So much of those horror movies, Halloween included, are about this darkness, this dark thing that infests or exists beneath the surface of suburbia. Obviously, A Nightmare on Elm Street is the one that really encapsulates the idea of ‘Here’s suburbia, but there are secrets going on underneath.’ This Halloween was always more about this outside force that enters into this safe bubble of suburbia.

“So I know we had a lot of conversations looking at who our characters are going to be and what the themes of the movie were going to be, in that same way of like, ‘Oh, here’s the pristine white picket fence, and here’s the maniac in the costume who’s killing here.’ It was like, ‘Well, let’s look at what has happened in the thirty years or whatever since the first Halloween came out. The suburban dream is not the same. And I lived in a neighborhood that was cookie cutter housing at the time. I wanted to buy my first house. I bought this cheap house, and the housing market fucking collapsed and they didn’t finish building the neighborhood.

“So half of my neighborhood was just wooden frames of houses with plastic tarps up that they just stopped building, and empty plots. There were a lot of people that didn’t move in, so it’s like five or six neighbors, these skeletons of buildings, and empty plots. It was like this weird ghost of suburbia.

“We lived in small town outside of Atlanta. That’s where we both grew up. There are all these strip malls, but then the strip malls die and a new one builds up and the town shifts a couple miles to the south, and that keeps on happening. Like, the Walmart will pull out and here’s just this huge fucking empty Walmart. So all of these abandoned strip malls and empty parking lots, just gone to seed, and this whole idea of this American dream was abandoned.

“So we wanted our Michael Myers to feel like this drifter that could enter into these essentially ghost towns of middle America and was stalking them with a little bit more of a free reign. It was less of an infiltration into this ideal and more about failure, and the failure of the suburban dream.

“That really translated into our character, who we envisioned as being somebody like … we always talked about Charlize Theron in Young Adult, and how she’s this failure that comes home. With Michael Myers, it’s ‘The Night He Came Home’. We always had our movie as, ‘This is The Night She Came Home’. She came home because she tried to go to college, couldn’t hack it for whatever reason, doesn’t have enough money to pay her cell phone bill, can’t really hold down a job. We thought this is a really interesting character to come back to this place. She tried to flee her shitty small town, ended up returning, kind of reignites with a boyfriend that she left.

Charlize Theron in Young Adult (2011)

“So there’s a failed relationship there. And she ends up having to protect her little sister, who also harbors feelings of resentment of being left behind. It was very much about that kind of character and that kind of background, really highlighting what we wanted a lot of our themes to be. A lot of the movie took place in a rundown movie theater, and then our climax took place in an empty Walmart-like superstore building.”

“Luke, you mentioned how you were teaching at the time. I want to say we were even joking about … these movies are so old that there’s probably some kids that just think Michael Myers is real. We even said that to ourselves, like in terms of like just capitalizing on it and representing it to people as though it were real. You don’t have to do the fake Strangers thing, like put the fake ‘True Story’ thing on it.

“But it’s just capitalizing on the myth quality that the movies themselves have in the culture. Because people … maybe they haven’t even seen the Halloween movies, but they’ve heard of it. They know about Michael Myers. So what do they know, and how do you use what they know?

“I think that that’s like when people do these reboots, a lot of times … I don’t know where the conversations go with other creative teams on this type of thing, but trying to negotiate between ‘What do potential new fans already know, what do the old fans want, but also what is core to the thing in a way that it can be completely itself, and not be just catering to other people’s desires?’ You know what I mean? It’s a tricky balance.”

Piotrowski details an interesting sequence here for their Shape, describing how his night begins in earnest. “We had a whole little bit where the first thing that The Shape does when he rolls up into town, he’s sitting on a bench and he’s like waiting for the clock to chime seven or eight o’clock at night, basically waiting for the sun to go down.

“As soon as the sun goes down, he puts the mask on. The first thing he does, he goes to the local 911 dispatch office and kills everybody in there so that nobody can call 911. The ability of people to communicate with each other and get help, or figure out what’s happening, would be really hurt. Because at this point, according to the legend that one of the characters says, he’s gotten better, and he’s gotten more ambitious. So this time he’s just attacking the town.”

Dick Warlock as The Shape in Halloween II (1981)

Piotrowski continues, outlining another tense sequence. “We had a scene of a girl alone, I think one of the sisters was upstairs taking a bath and one was downstairs … but he just comes up to their neighborhood, largely empty like my neighborhood with half-finished houses and not very many populated houses, and he just started going from door to door and killing everybody that he finds there. Like nobody knows what’s happening and nobody can stop him. This is some of the stuff that they seem to be leaning into in the new movies. It seems like similar vibes to what we were going for.

“She’s watching a horror movie on the TV, somebody screaming on the TV, and then she pauses and mutes and it’s like … she can still hear the screams. She goes to the window and just sees this guy going into the house next door and is like, ‘Oh shit, he’s going to come to our house next!’ So like really crafting sequences that were just about ‘Let’s live in that moment.’

“Very much like the climax of the first movie. A lot of the original movie is the characters not knowing they’re in danger, and that goes on for a long time. Nobody knows they’re in danger until the last fifteen minutes of the movie with Laurie, she knows what’s up. Obviously, at this point we’re familiar with that. So it’s like, ‘Can we take that last fifteen minutes and sustain that for a much larger portion of the movie where we have our character stuff and ominous setup, and then once he starts killing it’s fucking on, and it’s kinda more relentless.”

So was there any specific title given for this particular treatment, or was it always meant to be simply known as Halloween?

“It was always just Halloween, I think,” Piotrowski answers.

“I was thinking about this last night,” Collins adds. “If you were to try to make this movie, would you need to give it some sort of distinguished title so that people accepted the fact that it was kind of a … you know, like they have the Marvel Ultimates line or something like that. Would you need to do something? I don’t know, because obviously people have a lot of opinions about what Michael Myers should and shouldn’t be. I think for us, this would just be Halloween, but I don’t know if it would have been, ultimately.”

“I’m sure they couldn’t have, so soon after Rob Zombie’s Halloween,” Piotrowski admits. “Which I guess is now called Rob Zombie’s Halloween, but it is still just … how many fucking movies are just called Halloween? They would have had to have given it some kind of subtitle.

“But that’s what we wanted. That’s what’s so cool about the first movie, is the simplicity of the title and the simplicity of the story. It’s Halloween, there’s a killer. That’s what we wanted it to be like and feel like. We wanted it to feel very Halloween-y and feel very much like the holiday. You know, they go to buy Halloween candy, and there’s an all-night horror movie marathon at the movie theater where our character used to work. She was going to go talk to her boyfriend, who since they broke up has started dating her best friend and they haven’t told her.

“When I used to work in the movie theater and you close down for the night, it’s got those great doors that you can exit, but you can’t enter back inside because once you step out the door locks behind you. So a lot of it was really wanting to set up stuff like that. There was a whole sequence where the older sister ran outside because The Shape comes into her house. She ended up hiding in a Porta Potty in the construction site. He was trying to get in, and then instead of continuing to try and get in, he just locked her in there and went to get her little sister back in the house.

“So now she’s stuck inside the Porta Potty and screaming and can’t get out while he’s going back into the house. Just like really staging stuff in ways that felt clever and using the space.”

Collins jumps in, revealing a casting idea that would’ve involved a soon-to-be star. “One thing I want to mention since we’ve never talked about this publicly, I find it very funny. One of the things that is in the treatment is a character named Kumail. As in Kumail Nanjiani, who was not a famous person at that point.”

“This is before Silicon Valley,” Piotrowski points out. “Before Eternals, before the Dave Bautista movie and all that stuff. Kumail Nanjiani was a standup comedian. He did stuff on the Nerdist. I think he had his Indoor Kids podcast. And I just thought this guy was the fucking bees knees. I just related to all of his stories that he would tell about growing up. He likes all the same shit, he makes all the same references that I do.

“’I just love this guy’s presence. We got to put him in a movie! We’ve got to write a role for this guy! He likes horror movies, let’s put him in a Halloween movie.’ So that was my mission, to do what I can and get this guy a platform. Cut to two years later. and his career has lapped mine, has eclipsed mine.”

Collins laughs. “At least you didn’t condescendingly tell Jordan Peele he did a good job at a read-through one time before you knew who he was, like I did. So we each looked like fools thinking that these people who would go on to be the biggest entertainers of our time needed our help. But in this case, it was just a fun thing to see that, as the years passed, just being able to go like, ‘Yep! You really called it.’”

So, wait. Who was Kumail, and how did he figure into the story?

“He was the manager at the movie theater,” Collins answers.

“He worked in the movie theater,” Piotrowski agrees. “He was the guy who was into the Reddit threads. So he was the guy that was like, ‘Oh, I’ve got to tell you all about The Shape.’ Like, ‘Have you heard the story about…’”

“Yeah, he was the exposition guy.”

“He was like the Randy from Scream sort of a character. In earlier versions, he died. Then I think in the final outline that we had he survived, ‘cause once I named him that I was like, ‘I’m not going to kill him off.’”

Speaking of character names, what was our lead’s name meant to be?

“The lead was Erin,” Piotrowski reveals. “The little sister was Lee, which is a name that we’ve repurposed in other things since. In fact, there’s a lot of this movie that’s been repurposed in a movie that may or may not get made. But a Halloween movie about these two sisters, and returning to home in failure … we just really liked the characters and the vibe of that, like the world building of like, ‘Let’s just meet these people in this transitory moment in their lives.’”

“That’s usually the right way to do it,” Collins agrees. “I mean, I think we’ve learned a lot over the years and that’s one of the lessons. If you can find a character at an interesting moment in their life, like some event in their life that would be emotional or compelling for them and theoretically for the audience, if you can find them at that point at the beginning of the movie and then start the genre stuff, I think you get a lot going because you connect with people first. I think that’s the goal.”

Piotrowski hops in, describing how the tale would have wrapped up. “The big thing at the end was, they don’t defeat him. They end up holed up in a Walmart, Erin’s all cut to shit trying to protect her sister, finally having to stand up and be the responsible sister. They’re trapped in some old freezer or something inside the Walmart, cornered. They’re fucked. He’s pounding on the door and he’s going to get them. Then the sun comes up, eight o’clock rolls around, and Halloween night is over. And he just leaves. Then they’re able to come out. It was like, ‘What the fuck happened?’ Well, his night’s done. He did what he came to do, and now he’s off until another Halloween. And then there was a big controversial beat of him sitting at the diner.”

“I really liked the idea that if you were going to show any part of his face, you would only do it at the very, very end,” Collins says. “I liked the idea that he would be in a Waffle House, basically ordering breakfast. So if you got any line of dialogue, it might be like a very, very short clip, like some sort of ‘Hello’ or some acknowledgement of a waitress that’s bringing him coffee.”

“The waitress was like, ‘Oh, you work nights too, huh?’ Or something like that.”

“And I’ve told this to people before that wanted to crucify us. But to me, part of it would be just implying to the audience at the very end there that you could see this guy out and not know he’s The Shape. You know what I mean? Just the idea of putting him back into the world, in the way that The Strangers did, I think really effectively. At the very end, the Strangers are just fucking people who drive away in a pickup truck. They’re not monsters anymore. And it’s the idea of like, ‘Yep. Now he’s just going to go back into hibernation for another year. And hopefully he doesn’t come to your town next.”

So, why didn’t the pitch go forward?

“The thing is,” Collins says, “we pitched it over the phone to this guy. I don’t think we ever got any further than that.”

Piotrowski jumps in. “We got on the phone twice. We had one where we were talking about the big, broad strokes, thematic stuff, and the idea of, ‘Let’s go back to basics.’ Like, ‘Oh, it’s all about the failure of Midwest towns, and stuff like that. Then they were like, ‘Okay, give us more.’

“But look, we were terrible at pitching at the time. I lived in Atlanta still, and Ben was out here.”

“But Dimension was New York anyways,” Collins points out. “That was before anyone did video in Hollywood, really. So Dimension pitches were always on the phone, and they were terrible.”

Piotrowski agrees. “Because everybody was afraid of Bob, so people would just duck off the call in the middle of your pitch to take a call or deal with something that Bob wanted. I mean, we had a Hellraiser pitch where somebody literally stopped us two minutes into the pitch. ‘Well, Bob’s not going to like that.’ And then I was like, ‘Oh. Cool. Do you want me to continue? Or are we done? Like, ‘cause this is what we got.’ It was always very strange. You’d pitch, and then be like, “So is this all making sense?’ And then just silence from the other side. So I’m sure nobody was taking us seriously. Be we had a 44 bullet point, 18 page document.

“We were so bad at the time. We would just read it, like ‘Alright! So the first scene, there’s a couple in a car. It’s Halloween last year and they pass by this guy in a mask, and the guy’s like joking around, and then they pull up and then a bloody woman slams on the car window…’ We’d just walk them through every scene. I’m sure it was very exhausting for the executives.

“I mean, I can’t stress enough that we were nobody’s at the time. We were bad at pitching. It wasn’t like this was ‘Oh, it almost got made.’ Like, no. Somebody asked us, ‘What would you do with Halloween?’ We spent two weeks trying to figure out what to do and, and told some guys on the phone that were probably half listening. So it’s not like this is the big one that got away.”

Collins notes here that the pitch might have been revisited not too long after their initial attempt. “There was a minute there, though. When they announced that Blumhouse was getting the rights, there was a minute where I was like, ‘Should we try to force our way in there and pitch this version again?’ And we never did it, and it was because it was clear that when they announced that I already could tell that they knew what they were doing and they were probably figuring it out. So it was like, there’s no reason to even gum up the works in that sense. But if anybody called us now, we’d probably pitch it again. I still think it would be good. Even with this, even with you telling everybody everything we just said, I still think it’d be a cool movie.

“If you were going to try to reboot the whole thing now, completely fresh, I don’t know a better way to do it personally.”

And what of the franchise possibilities? Did the writers have any plans for follow-ups to their story?

“We wanted to tee it up,” Piotrowski reveals. “If you wanted to get into mythology, then you save that for the next movie, but not to feel beholden to every iteration of the mythology that’s come before. So the idea was, ‘Let’s just kinda get everything off the table and do one good movie that’s just a really taut and simple thriller. Then if there’s an appetite for it, you can build from there.”

“And you have the mechanism of the investigation,” Collins says, “because we have the Kumail character introducing this idea of the lore that was available to it. It would be very natural to have a sequel wherein either that character came back and was even more into it, or you introduced other characters that were part of that community of like web sleuth people. You could tell the story of some people trying to find out who he was leading up to the day of the next Halloween.”

Piotrowski adds: “You could tell prequel stories of previous years, and you could tell sequel stories if you wanted to build the escalation. But yeah, the idea was to create a character that you then could plug into … your Jason Takes Manhattan, or put him in the snow. You could set it wherever because the guy goes from town to town and does this stuff. And if you want to explore why he does it, you could. Or if you just want to see him do the same thing in a new locale with existing characters or not, you could do that.

“So we didn’t have a specific story we did want to tell, but we were mindful in the crafting of it that, if we’re going to reboot, let’s reboot in such a way that it is a seed that could be bloomed. You could do different things with it.”

“It is funny, though,” Collins says. “I don’t remember us ever getting into the supernatural. Usually with anything, we tend to veer supernatural, just because it’s more interesting. But with this…”

Piotrowski agrees. “It just wasn’t part of the original conceit. They try and do it, and it becomes the stuff that gets so silly. Michael Myers is scary because he’s a person. He’s scary because you don’t know why he’s killing you.”

Collins sighs at this point. “I really wish we could’ve made this movie. Like I said, at the time we were doing all of this right on the heels of the Rob Zombie thing, which was very into the Carpenter mythology. Especially in the second one, even though I really respect the effort that Rob took to go into what’s really going on inside this guy’s head when he’s doing this. I think that’s cool. But it was so obviously deep in that world, that going the other way made sense now. And now the Blumhouse movies exist, and it’s like … I guess I’m personally hoping, just as a fan or just as an audience member, that the exhaustion of the Carpenter mythology will just reach an apex with these. And that if they’re going to do more, then it’s inevitable that they have to do some, something like what we’re describing here, eventually. I just think that you’ve got to, at a certain point.”

In wrapping up our talk, the writers offer up a plea to readers.

“Don’t hate us!” Piotrowski laughs. “I like Halloween. Like the last thing I want is for this article to come out and people be like, ‘These motherfuckers don’t want Loomis in the movie?! Fuck them, I don’t want them to do a Hellraiser!’ That’s my biggest fear. Look, it’s all to taste. Some people like H20, some people like 2018, some people like III, nobody likes Resurrection

“Everybody’s got their different opinions on the franchise, of what’s important to them. You know, I like 4 and 5. I love Loomis!”

“We come from a sincere place,” Collins says. “When we do these kinds of things, it’s always about whether or not we are huge fans of the particular thing when we get this kind of stuff. We really do say, ‘What’s going to be the thing that makes this the best movie possible?’ And if we can’t find what we think is a good movie, then we pass on the job. We don’t even pitch if we don’t have a good idea. So this is just sharing the idea we had at the time.”

Piotrowski concludes: “I suppose there’s always somebody that can say, ‘Well, you don’t understand it.’ But that’s the risk you take when you’re playing with these kinds of toys.”

Very special thanks to Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski for their time and insights.

Michael Myers (aka The Shape) in Halloween Kills, directed by David Gordon Green.


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