SDCC 2018: Jamie Lee Curtis Says This HALLOWEEN Is All About Empowerment
Halloween fever is at an all-time high here at BMD, especially after Evan got to see some extended brutality in Hall H yesterday.
But before they took Comic-Con's biggest stage, a few of us got to sit down with director David Gordon Green, Laurie Strode herself, Jamie Lee Curtis, Blumhouse chief Jason Blum, and longtime Halloween producer Malek Akkad (son of the late great Moustapha Akkad). In a few quick minutes, the team behind one of our most anticipated releases of the rest of 2018 dropped some new details on what to expect when we sit down with their "forty-years later" installment.
When asked about how daunting a task it was to approach making a sequel to a cinematic milestone, Green said:
"...it was surreal as fuck. For me, it was a childhood dream, as [Halloween] was such a formative movie in my cinematic upbringing. I remember seeing it at a slumber party, after which I vomited and went home. This was an opportunity for me to face my own demons and really play, after I got over my initial shock of what it was. It was also a way for me to try and live up to the Akkad legacy, the Curtis legacy, and the Blum legacy that we're currently in today...and it's a great way to really birth a new franchise while looking back at history. It's a very exciting film to be a part of."
Green then commented on his own relationship with Danny McBride (who helped co-write the movie) - whose friendship and collaboration the director has been sharing since their college days in North Carolina together - and how they've looked at the Halloween series throughout the years:
"...there's just such an affection for it. I'd say every single thing I've made has a reflection back to the film school days of enthusiasm that Danny and several of our friends that worked on this movie hold - from our production designer to our sound mixer - as we're a real passionate collective of film fans who like everything from the classy to the trashy, and horror was a big part of our diet. We also probably weren't as critical as some audiences are today. You know, one day we'd be watching Dangerous Liasions, the next it'd be No Holds Barred, and that was just kind of the way that we liked to talk about movies: through positivity, which was also how we all came together despite different personalities, different characters, different temperaments.
The stillness...the composition...the way it'd linger...the fact that it had great performances and could sustain the tension without using a ton of the devices we expect. Of course, the music. We're working with John right now and putting together the score for this movie, and it's just unbelievable."
When asked how he'd be using the original theme and John Carpenter's score in the movie, Green said:
"...certainly John's original theme is one of the foundations of the film. He's composing the music right now with his son Cody and Daniel Davies. But then it's up to us to take that score and say 'OK, when do you want iconic?' versus 'when do you want to be fresh and inventive?' That's the balance we're exploring right now."
Jamie Lee Curtis even went as far as to draw comparisons between Green and the Horror Master himself, John Carpenter:
"...David's from the South and went to film school with all these guys. John Carpenter is from the South-ish [writer's note: born in New York, relocated to Kentucky as a kid], and he went to film school with [editor] Tommy Wallace and [The Shape!] Nick Castle. It was the same kind of vibe. These were all film geeks, coming together to make something. And were it not for Moustapha Akkad [places a motherly hand on Malek's shoulder], who went to John and [co-writer/producer] Debra [Hill] and said 'I wanna make a slasher...a babysitter murders movie' this wouldn't be happening. He went to a filmmaker. He could've gone and gotten anybody.
John's early movie was a cult hit, Dark Star. But [when watching it], it was clear that these guys were in love with movies. The honor of it all was that Moustapha went to a young filmmaker and basically said 'babysitter murder, please' and John and Debra conceived this story in this small town. The way David works with his friends is the exact same vibe as when John made the first movie with Dean Cundey and Tommy Lee Wallace. The parallels are wild: they're all Southern boys who were film geeks."
Curtis made it clear, too, that everyone who signed up was passionate about bringing Halloween back:
"...this is not a payday. Trust me, I've done movies like that - we've all done movies like that - I mean, just look at Virus. Or don't, really. [laughs] But sometimes taking a payday is nice. This is not that. This is a group of friends coming together to really make something similar to the way we made Halloween; something powerful, simple, classic, and elegant."
When asked about the evolution of Laurie Strode, Curtis went into detail with some new wrinkles that'd been added to the OG Final Girl:
"...Laurie Strode, in the original movie, was as great a part a young actor could ever want to have. I had been doing a TV show [writer's note: the series was Operation Petticoat] prior to that where I was fighting to get two lines a week. I was one of these army nurses on a Navy sub. It was deadly. Yet here was an entire character, sketched out with dreams, and fantasies, and repressions, and vulnerability. The original movie was gorgeous.
But Laurie Strode had something happen to her that nobody in their lives should ever have happen, and she just reacted in her intelligent way, to save her life. Period. End of story. The movie ends. This new movie picks up forty years later, and what happened for forty years is that there was no trauma therapy, nobody went in and gave her mental health services, she was raised by Midwestern simple people, who said 'baby, you're OK.' She went back to school two days later with a scar - a little scar on her shoulder and arm - and that's it. But that kind of PTSD and trauma just compounds..."
Then she really took over the table, all but labeling this new sequel as"Halloween for the #Metoo Era":
"...what we're seeing today is all these women who have been beaten, battered, raped...have all found the voice to say 'no more'. It's interesting to me that this movie coincides with that wellspring of empowerment and understanding. Laurie Strode was a seventeen-year-old high school student that nobody ever paid any attention to, and now she is demanding a moment. That's who we need forty years later. It's powerful."
Then the big question was asked of Curtis - how is she dealing with Michael no longer being Laurie's brother?:
"...the question is: how do you tell a story that has nine other stories attached it to? Becuase those nine other stories were written by nine other people. I'm not saying that each one individually doesn't have its own merit and value, nor am I saying they don't exist. What's we're saying is that this movie is only directly related to Halloween '78, and what happened to Laurie Strode on that night in '78.
There is nothing more terrifying in the world than a random act of violence. That is the root of terrorism: that you don't see it coming. That something occurs in a horrible way that you never expected. That's what made [John Carpenter's Halloween] so terrifying: it was random. Then the story got twisted, and a lot of people like that about it. Kevin Smith loves the idea of it being her brother. But for me, the most terrifying idea is not knowing why this happened.
That's what David has woven back in so beautifully: she's become the 'boy who cried wolf'. She is that woman who has spent every day of her adulthood - she was seventeen - and every day since has been spent preparing for 'when is he coming back?' In the process, she had two marriages dissolve, and a child was taken from her by the State. Because now, Laurie's the one taking Karen in on her first day of First Grade and saying to the teacher 'what's your exit strategy [in case something happens]?' These days, our children are prepared for that horrible reality - they know what an 'active shooter' is - but [during Laurie's coming of age] nobody had any idea, so you can imagine why the State stepped in to take Karen from Laurie to be raised by her dad."
Now, that last part is interesting as, until now, we hadn't heard the extent of how they're changing Laurie Strode, and this makes her sound more like Sarah Connor than anything else. If Green and McBride ended up writing the Terminator 2 of slasher movies, I'd be alright with that.
We'll just have to wait and see how wild it all gets once Halloween hits theaters October 19th.
This article is part of B.M.D. Guide To: Halloween