Next to Rick Rosenthal, Rob Zombie is the second director to make his mark on the Halloween franchise twice - a claim the rocker-turned-horror helmer almost didn't get to tout. After the success of Halloween in 2007, Dimension Films and Trancas International sought to continue the Michael Myers legacy, Zombie unmistakably put his mark on, with a sequel. Following in his footsteps was easier said than done.
"Starting out we were looking into how we could do a normal sequel. We had a couple of writers do a draft and we weren't happy at all," expresses Trancas producer Malek Akkad. Dimension Films had turned to French filmmakers Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, the writers and directors behind the wicked gorefest Inside. The Weinstein brothers, Harvey and Bob, had previously acquired Bustillo and Maury's film, releasing it on DVD through their Dimension Extreme label, and sought to work with them further. "They did a draft. I liked Inside and it wasn't them so much as we just wanted Rob back. It wasn't necessarily a good fit because of Rob's sensibility, what he brings to this [franchise] is so much. These guys were French so there was something lost in the translation somehow."
Akkad and company then approached Zombie who was revving up another picture called Tyrannosaurus Rex but was receptive to return for what is being called H2 (the producer couldn't go on the record as to why it won't be called Halloween 2). Certainly a coup for Akkad who felt Zombie had much more to say with Myers, Laurie Strode and the Haddonfield he lived in. Also, "Halloween is a very American tradition, Michael Myers is a very American icon and Rob gets that. What he's done in this film is hit on the Halloween holiday also. It's not just a slasher film, he's brought in the elements of the holiday which is great."
It's a nippy evening on the Georgia set of H2 and ShockTillYouDrop.com is huddled near a space heater with Akkad to get the lowdown on how this installment came to fruition. He lights a cigarette and admits the press still makes him nervous. He knows the devout fans of the Halloween series - which his late father, Moustapha, started with John Carpenter - are scrupulously watching every word he says.
"The fact that [Rob] was doing a remake, perhaps there were some constraints," Akkad admits. "He felt there were certain elements he had to be true to but he was also able to flesh it out in his own way. But I think here he's really taking it in his own direction. It's packed, it's got so many elements and so many character arcs going, it's really satisfying to see where he takes each character and how he resolves each character. He's brought new elements into the franchise we've never seen before."
Some of those elements include a radical turn for leading lady Scout Taylor-Compton (reprising her role as Strode), a killer spotted for a good chunk of the time without his iconic mask and peculiar dream sequences. "I built a lot of trust in Rob after the first one, we had gotten into the habit of using a stuntman for Michael and Rob was insistent on using an actor [Tyler Mane] which I agree with 100%. That brought a lot of different textures to Michael. A lot of subtleties. After seeing that and what Rob had done with it, I trusted him. I told him, when we started this, 'Don't feel hindered by any of the rules we've had in the past. I want this to be your vision and I want you to express that vision.' I think we needed to break out from these rules that have been established over the course of the franchise. His script had a lot more depth to it than a regular slasher film and the credit there goes to him."
Based on this writer's journey into the make-up trailer with Wayne Toth, it appears Zombie will face some hurdles with the MPAA once shooting and editing are complete. Akkad doesn't show any worries. "There's always challenges [with the ratings board]," he says, "but there are ways to work around it. Like last time, we'll do the DVD and then his 'let it all hang out' version. I would say this is a little less than the first one. There were a couple of scenes in the last one we couldn't get by on the director's cut and on this one, going back to the question about this being a broader slasher film, I think there are going to be less issues in that regard." And any uncertainties about opening on August 28th, a week after Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds? "[Late-August has] always worked for us. And Inglorious Basterds is a different audience and our trailer will be on it, so the studio is very excited about how it's playing out."
For more with Akkad and his thoughts on the future of the Halloween franchise click here.
Source: Ryan Rotten, Managing Editor