Collins’ Crypt: It’s Time To Unchain HALLOWEEN From Continuity
It has now been two and a half years since Dimension/Weinstein announced Halloween 3D, which would presumably follow the Rob Zombie continuity (with or without Zombie himself) as well as become the series' first 3D entry, joining Jason and Freddy in the ranks of high profile movie slashers to terrorize us in the 3rd dimension. However, to date, there has been no real progress on the film; names have been attached, release dates have come and gone, etc.
To put it in another perspective of how long it's been, we've seen 3D more or less go through its entire cycle again; Bob Weinstein only wanted to do it in 3D because Final Destination 4 kicked Halloween II's ass at the box office in August of 2009 (when 3D was just starting to catch on, pre-Avatar), and in his mind, 3D was the missing ingredient. It couldn't possibly be the fact that Zombie's first movie polarized audiences, or that this particular version of the series was steeped in the brutal violence that had grown stale by this point, or any other reason that the movie underperformed. Nope, just 3D. But since then, the "gimmick" has gone from being a sure thing at the box office to something of a red flag - bad converts, the increased costs, and other factors have pretty much killed the format all over again, with the 3D portion of box office receipts growing increasingly smaller as more folks opt for the 2D version than they did for those first few releases (Avatar, Clash of the Titans, etc). Recent films have even backed away from advertising the 3D at all, saving it for the end of a spot without accompanying voiceover, a far cry from a year or so ago when "SHOT IN 3D!" was a fairly common thing to see in trailers.
Maybe that's why the film is taking so long to get going - Bob needs to figure out the next hot thing to copy. It's been his MO for most of the Dimension segment of the Halloween series so far; H20 was built around the new "hip" version of slasher that Scream had ushered in, and the remake played on BOTH of the mid 00s over-exposed trends in horror: unnecessary remakes and hardcore violence (eschewing the suspense driven tone of most of the previous entries entirely). If ghost movies were back in vogue right now, he'd probably just let Michael stay dead for once and have his spirit floating around Haddonfield.
And here's the funny thing: I'm OK with that. I honestly don't care what they do to the character anymore, because at this point there are just as many Dimension entries as there are not (five of each), which means there are just as many soulless cash-in ones (not entirely without entertainment value, mind you) as there are legitimate entries. Can anyone really be excited about another Halloween film knowing that Bob Weinstein is calling the shots, refusing to listen to good ideas or put any faith in a filmmaker whatsoever? He couldn't even leave Wes Craven and co. alone on the last Scream movie, and that's their golden goose! What chance does whoever does what is essentially Halloween 11 have to get in there and deliver a kick-ass movie? I'm not saying it's impossible (and I haven't forgotten that there are a lot of fans who count these entries as their favorites in the series over those older "boring" ones), but the odds are slim at best that the movie will be more interesting than the now-standard behind the scenes drama on a Dimension project. So who cares? Do what you want with Michael Myers, Loomis, etc. It can't really get much worse, and even if it does, I'd be a fool to go in with high expectations anyway.
But it doesn't have to be that way. If someone can figure out a way to wrap their good, original take on the character into whatever trend Bob will demand for the film (found footage being the latest rumor), then maybe it'll work. My main concern is that they'll try to shoehorn whatever they do into Rob Zombie's continuity, when they should just be starting from scratch. I don't mean a remake again, I mean an actual "re-imagining" for once. No Laurie Strode, no "kill the family" plot (and certainly no druid shit), hell you don't even need Haddonfield, really, though the small town approach should probably be retained. Loomis I can go either way on; he's the "Van Helsing" of this particular mythology, but I still think RZ's Halloween II would have been better without his ill-fitting scenes. Ditto with the music, maybe keep the theme for the credits? Can't decide there.
Either way, I think at this point Myers can be done without it being a direct follow-up to any previous entry, the same way a movie like Dracula 2000 * isn't a sequel to a Christopher Lee or Bela Lugosi version of the story. Zombie actually had a similar opinion, in fact, but for whatever reason he opted to bring back Laurie (and Annie, and Brackett, and Lynda, and Bob, and Tommy Doyle...), which prevented him from truly making the character his own and pushing Myers further into the territory of the classic monster I think he can be. Michael can fly for all I care ** - I just want a blank slate this next time around, so no matter what version of the story you prefer, you have a level playing field with every other fan. Otherwise they're handicapping themselves from the start - if they follow Zombie's continuity, the old school fans will continue to bitch. But if they decide to go back to previous entries as a launching point (sort of like how the upcoming Leatherface 3D is a followup to the Hooper originals, not the Platinum Dunes version), they probably just confuse the newer fans who take Zombie's version as the "real" series. And either way they have to sort out the mess of that version's story - take your pick: should Michael be facing druids, Busta Rhymes, or white horses?
Nope, the way I see it, starting over is the only way to go, re-interpreting the Michael Myers character and ditching everything else. Every element you bring from an existing film just sets the movie up to fail - no one will live up to Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, no one will be as awesome as Beau Starr as Sheriff Meeker, etc. Give everyone new characters to care about, ones that we're not already attached to via nostalgia. One of the biggest problems I had with Zombie's first film was that he just tossed Laurie Strode into the movie halfway through and gave us no reason to care about her besides the fact that she was LAURIE STRODE, our pre-existing heroine. He skipped character development by retaining a name that resonated with the fanbase. No. Give Michael new foils, prevent us from knowing who is "safe" right from the start because they happen to have a certain name. If you're able to go back and watch the original Halloween without any knowledge of future installments (or of the fact that Jamie Lee Curtis has gone on to greater fame than her pals), you'll notice that Annie and Laurie are pretty equal with regards to their screen time and even how much Michael seems to be interested in them. This is something the rest of the series lacked; every character was a clear goner from the start, with the exception of the equally obvious Final Girl.
And again, even removing him from Haddonfield might not be the worst thing. He doesn't have to go to space (or even Manhattan), but maybe a smaller, more isolated town in a place like Oregon or Maine would be interesting, or a planned community in California (not one of the major cities; closer to the desert). Set it apart visually from the others, something only the original Halloween II and H20 ever really managed given their isolated settings (a hospital and a school). Again, anything that can really set the film apart from the others so you're not too clouded by your memories (good or bad) of the others can only help, and it would be a clear indicator that they're at least TRYING to think outside the box a bit.
Oh, and make it about the goddamn holiday again. Not just lip service with a few costumes and pumpkins tossed around - dive into the whole thing: trick or treating, candy, kids playing pranks... H20 may be popular among some fans, but that movie (and Resurrection) has about as much to do with October 31st as Friday the 13th. For better or worse, this series has something no other major horror series does: the ownership of an annual holiday. Silent Night Deadly Night may be the most prolific Christmas horror series, but it's no guarantee it is the first thing that comes to mind when you say "Christmas horror", as others might think of Black Christmas or even Gremlins. However, from now until the end of time, Halloween the day is synonymous with Halloween the movie. The closest rival is Michael Dougherty's Trick r' Treat, but Warner Bros. fucked that one up from the start, so Sam (unfortunately) won't have the chance to dethrone Myers as the king of the holiday, and it remains relatively obscure to general audiences. There is no holiday more closely related to horror movies, and as long as people are watching scary films in October, they're bound to watch at least one Halloween film.
In other words, there's always going to be a built in demand for a new Halloween film in a way that the Fridays and Nightmares can't ever match. If (hopefully WHEN) Dimension loses the rights to the brand, someone else will take over - I truly believe there will never be a time when Michael Myers is truly dead forever, same as I know there will always be more Dracula and Frankenstein movies in some stage of development or production. Dimension/Weinstein should be embracing the fact that they will always have that Pavlovian excitement even from casual horror fans (not to mention general audiences looking for a scary movie in October - that is, if they ever went back to releasing them then instead of during the summer), and thus given the low cost of these movies they can try new things and be a little more creative, knowing that if the public doesn't respond they can always return to safer territory later. He survived the Thorn cult and Busta Rhymes' kung fu prowess; he even survived being abandoned in a different dimension (Halloween III took place in the "real world" where Halloween is a movie) - he can survive anything. It's time they take advantage of that.
*Incidentally, that film was directed by Patrick Lussier, who was one of the names in the running for Halloween 3D (and an ideal pick; My Bloody Valentine 3D remains the best 3D horror film IMO). Hmm...