David Gordon Green Talks HALLOWEEN (Mostly His, But Carpenter’s Too!)

The indie stalwart certainly didn't start small when making his first horror movie.

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Doing roundtables is rarely something I look forward to; I don't even like doing one on one interviews all that much, but at least there I don't have to fight to get in a question (or find my question asked by someone else), or be associated with the sort of journalists who bring posters for the talent to sign. But as you should know by now, I make any and all exceptions when it comes to Halloween, so I gave up a chunk of my Saturday to sit with a bunch of folks and hopefully get to ask the likes of John Carpenter, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Jason Blum about the new Halloween film. 

Oddly, the real draw for me was David Gordon Green, as I felt I hadn't heard much from him about his approach to the new film, and he was such a left-field choice to do, for all intents and purposes, "Halloween 11". Since a lot of the chat was focused on how to go about making a sequel to the original (while ignoring the others) and how much Carpenter's original film (and Carpenter himself) meant to him, I wanted to run this interview now in advance of tomorrow's Beyond Fest triple feature of Black Christmas, Halloween (1978) and Halloween (2018), which will be I believe the first public screening of the films back to back, letting us see exactly how they complement each other. The triple feature is sold out (no surprise!) but there will be a standby line for those who want to try their luck. I'll post the chats with Carpenter and the others soon, but in the meantime, enjoy what Green has to say about his film - and see if you can pick out which question was mine! 

On why he wanted to be the one to make a new Halloween movie:

"Selfishness, really - I didn’t want to see someone else’s! I’ve just been a huge fan of the movies. All of them, actually. But particularly the original film, which got under my skin in a way that no other horror film has – well, maybe The Silence of the Lambs. Those two movies really affected me. I saw them in my youth and they were very exciting and terrifying. As the franchise progressed it got more and more complicated... my concept and Danny’s, when we started talking about it, is 'Are you allowed to go back, in the industry, in the realm of franchises, go back and say something didn't happen? Let's simplify it again and go back to the least complicated version.' And so, I wanted to do that rather than having to incorporate all of the mythology that the series absorbed over the years, and I was worried that someone would not [do that]. Also, I could use it as a device to be able to meet John Carpenter [laughs]!"

On how they wrote the script without knowing for sure that Jamie Lee would be interested:

“We had written it already, hoping she would but being prepared for her to say, ‘No.’ If she says yes it's like Force Awakens, honoring the first film by bringing in many of the players and aesthetic that the first film had to offer. But if she says no, then we go Batman Begins and create our own take on the mythology. But SHE'S Laurie Strode. When you think about someone else stepping into that character... there’s no one like her. It’s iconic, and I had a hard time swallowing it, so I put on my [plays up his accent] sweet talking salesman voice and gave it the hard sell, and she said, ‘Yes.’”

On "I Wish I Had You All Alone" popping up on the soundtrack:

"We did the version as if it was a 1978 song. That's a perfect example of making a low budget movie - we can't afford a real song; I have like a Patsy Cline song in temp, and we look it up and it's 40,000 dollars to put it in the movie. And we have 1,000 dollars for it, so what do we do? Well John and Jamie wrote this song that's in the original one, and I have a friend that's in a band and I can put them together and do it for a thousand bucks, boom. So now there's a real innovation; rather than a song that everyone knows, there's something clever and cool and adds a layer. I'd like to say it was a smart move but it's a reaction to being a cheap movie!"

On John Carpenter giving the film his blessing:

"He came and hung out, it was super surreal. My parents were also visiting that day and my dad and him were just talking about comic books while I was shooting the babysitter scene upstairs. It was the scene with [SPOILER REDACTED] with a ghost sheet over them, and the pumpkin... so it was kind of a fun scene for him to show up on set for. But yeah, really surreal, seeing Jamie Lee and Nick Castle and John kind of bonding again and seeing my crew, all my cohorts from all my films that I've been working with for 20 years. I don't even have that much recollection of it; someone was showing me photographs of that day recently, and it was pretty overwhelming and emotional and nostalgic and sentimental in a lot of ways.”

On the first time he heard the new Carpenter music for the film:

"I was so fucking excited to hear! It's genetically encoded, you hear the theme to Halloween and you feel amazing. Very simple, means everything and it's all you need. But then to hear the new stuff, like 'Where's he gonna go, what's he gonna do with this?' He kept me out of it; he said 'I wanna have a whole score for you. It’s not gonna be piece by piece.' I was like, 'Is he doing an orchestra? Is it gonna be the opera?' But then I heard it and it feels very Carpenter. I can sense a little Escape from New York in a couple little pieces and things like that, it was pretty exciting.

On the new film's original opening scene, which was a slight ret-con of the finale of the 1978 film:

“We had a setup, even in the script going into production we had a re-filmed ending of the first film from a different perspective. It was a very complicated overhead view of Loomis shooting the gun and then Michael going over, and then the apprehension - it was to get people back up to speed, we haven't seen the movie in a long time, or people who had never seen the movie, how do you invite everybody to the party? That kind of thing. And then when we were shooting, we kept pushing it off - this is interesting. So we rebuilt the bedroom from the climax of the original film, so we had the bones of this room, but budgets are getting tighter, schedule's getting tighter, and we were trying to finish the movie up, so then we were like, 'Screw it, let’s not do that.' And if we need it later, we can always rebuild it, so we turned that set into Laurie's bedroom. So the scene in the climax with all the mannequins is - to a square inch - a rebuild of that room; the closet's in the same place, the balcony is in the same place, all those things." 

...and if we would have seen Loomis in that new scene:

“We cast a Loomis double: our art director, because he looked exactly like Donald!  And there was conversation of utilizing footage from the original film and digitally altering it, so we could get some other interesting elements, but all of it starts costing money, and you look at what you’re trying to do and ask  'Do we need the gimmick? Do you need the exposition? Do you need the set up?'  And this was actually Carpenter calming me down on set, I'm like 'Nobody's gonna know what's happening or where we are coming from!' and he said to me, 'Just trust 'em, leave 'em alone and let them figure it out.'"

David Gordon Green's Halloween is in theaters on October 19th.  The original film is showing in several theaters in advance of that date, check here to see if you're local to one of them!