For hardcore moviegoers, the autumnal months usually mean one thing: a new horror movie. There’s nothing like a scary movie in October, and Blumhouse is currently reaping the benefits of this trend with its new Halloween sequel. Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode is back 40 years after the original film, telling a story about trauma, perseverance, and vengeance. But it wasn’t long ago that director Rob Zombie released his own set of Halloween movies.
Rob Zombie’s Halloween movies hit theaters in 2007 and 2009, and were a stark juxtaposition to John Carpenter’s original, and the myriad sequels that preceded them. Zombie stepped up the violence and cruelty of the franchise, and recently spoke to his contributions to Halloween, and why he has no interest in returning to the iconic horror property.
To be honest, I would rather be doing my own thing. But I am still proud of both Halloween movies. I prefer the second one, which might surprise people. But the problem is that when you do a remake you can never get a true judgement on what it is you have done. I think it’s the same deal when someone remakes A Nightmare on Elm Street or anything else — it’s just too hard to completely break the formula.
Wowza. There’s a lot to unpack here, about not only Halloween and Rob Zombie’s history with horror, but also why it’s so difficult to properly reboot the classic horror franchise. And given the current trend of nostalgia, the latter might be especially important for certain producers and filmmakers to take into consideration before green lighting a new project.
Rob Zombie’s comments to Games Radar come in the wake of Halloween‘s absolutely massive success at the box office. David Gordon Green’s new sequel was made on a paltry $10 million budget, and has already accrued $172.1 million in its first few weeks in theaters. The movie has broken records for an October openings, the slasher genre, and the Halloween franchise as a whole. Unfortunately, Zombie didn’t fare quite as luckily with his two movies, which have a tone separate from the property.
Despite being made a decade ago, Rob Zombie’s Halloween movies actually had a larger budget than the one that’s currently in theaters. They were both made with $15 million, but only the first movie ended up making much of a profit, totaling at $80.3 million. But Halloween II (aka Zombie’s favorite) only made $39.4 million, and Rob Zombie didn’t continue his version of Laurie Strode and Michael Myers’ feud with a threequel. Although given just how different Zombie’s vision was from John Carpenter’s groundbreaking 1978 original, this may have been a positive outcome for the hardcore fandom.
Rob Zombie also addressed how difficult it is to reboot iconic horror franchises. Properties like Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th have their own level of iconography, due to the groundbreaking nature of their inception. As such, it’s hard for a director to come in and take any sort of creative liberties with its villains and settings. Rob Zombie attempted to do just this with his Halloween movies, and seems to have gotten a ton of blowback from fans.
The Zombie Halloween movies took Laurie Strode and her teenage friends into a modern setting, and transformed Michael Myers into a hulking and terrifying physical presence. Rather than slowly stalking and suspenseful taking out his victims, Michael was brutally violent, with both Halloween and Halloween II almost bordering on the torture porn subgenre. It was around this time that the Saw and Hostel franchises were making buckets of money, and the horror world was covered in even more blood than usual.
Blumhouse’s Halloween didn’t try to reinvent the real or making drastic changes to the Halloween franchise. Quite the opposite; David Gordon Green and writer Danny McBride have continually voiced their reverence for John Carpenter’s original movie, and attempted to use the same tone as the 1978 original. And after getting some advice and the new music from Carpenter himself, the finished product ended up much more classic than any of the franchise’s myriad sequels.
That’s not to say that the new Halloween didn’t craft an original story. Blumhouse’s sequel ignored all of the franchise’s sequels, no longer making Michael Myers and Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode long lost siblings. Additionally, Laurie was shown to never have left Haddonfield, and both a daughter and granddaughter were added to the story to bring new dynamics to the long running property.
Rob Zombie’s point about rebooting classic horror movies does stand to reason, although that’s never stopped studios from bringing more sequels to theaters. The last Nightmare on Elm Street movie arrived back in 2010, with Watchmen actor Jackie Earle Haley replacing the iconic Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger. Wes Craven protested this movie’s production since he wasn’t involved, although it ended up making solid money at the box office. But it wasn’t enough of a success to continue the franchise, and Freddy has been absent from theaters and our nightmares since.
Friday the 13th is a similarly iconic horror franchise, which has had a difficult time making its way back to theaters. The property has been passed around to a few studios, but no one has been able to bring Jason Voorhees back from the dead. The last installment in the franchise was back in 2009, and is still the second best selling of the property. But since then, Jason has mostly been killing camp counselors through the popular Friday the 13th video game.
You can catch Halloween in theaters now. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your trips to the movies in the upcoming New Year.