However, that hoped-for period of reflection isn't going to happen as its already been announced that Halloween 3-D is on deck for an August 2010 release! Still, as August is a year away and - other than the fact that it's going to be in 3-D - we have no inkling as to the direction of this new Halloween, I'm going to toss out a few helpful suggestions. Of course, my frankly awesome plan for Halloween II already fell on deaf ears but as a fan I still feel duty-bound to put my two cents in on the future of Halloween. If these five issues are addressed, the next Halloween might not be so painful to endure.
5) No More 'Name' Writer/Directors
The problem with hiring someone who's a superstar in their own right like Rob Zombie is that it becomes about selling their name and their brand, not the series itself. Whether you liked Zombie's take on Halloween or not, I think it ultimately was a bad move to let Zombie reinvent the franchise. It reminds me of when Marvel Comics was in a desperate situation in the late '90s and they licenced out some of their most iconic titles, like Fantastic Four and Captain America, to the founders of Image Comics in the hopes that guys like Rob Liefeld would revive interest in these characters and bring in a big haul of cash. In the short term that worked on a financial level, but the actual product was poor and putting flashy 'name' creators on these books did more harm than good. With their next choice of a Halloween director, I hope the Weinsteins will go with someone who's just a solid director. I'd love to have, say, Wrong Turn's Rob Schmidt tackle this. Or My Bloody Valentine 3-D's Patrick Lussier. Those are the kind of directors who would do a bang-up job with Halloween, I think.
4) Reboot Everything
Seeing the series pick up from where Zombie left off is a dismal proposition. He painted the series into a corner that's not going to be easy or fun to get out of. You don't have to call the next film a remake and you don't have to do an origin story again but pretending that the two Zombie films didn't happen is going to be the best move, I think. I mean, Zombie didn't even set up an interesting mythology to carry on from. What was up with the hallucinations and visions and the psychic link between Laurie and Michael? As terrible as it was, I'd rather see the Cult of the Thorn brought back.
3) Recast Everything
Whoever takes on this next installment might as well reboot everything because they're sure as hell going to have to recast everything. I'm sure that Zombie's cast isn't going to be eager to carry on without him so no Scout Taylor-Compton as Laurie, no Brad Dourif as Sheriff Brackett, no Malcolm McDowell as Dr. Loomis (if that character can even be brought back). While some might balk at this, I think the majority of fans and movie-goers will be glad for a chance to start over and not question how it's accomplished. The idea of rebooting Halloween from square one wasn't bad in itself, it just needed to be handled with more reverence to the original series.
2) Bring Back The Suspense
If Halloween is known for one thing, it's for its classic suspense. Now, no one besides Carpenter has worked that angle as well but the better entries in the series - the original Halloween II, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, and Halloween: H20 - did well by trying to follow in his footsteps. I know that some people think that brutality is where it's at with horror now but I disagree. That works for some films but I think Halloween should stick to a more classic style. Brutal isn't scary - is there a single person who found Zombie's Halloween II to be the least bit frightening? Anyone? I doubt it. A return to stalk n' slash suspense where we have real build-ups to the kills (the depth of vision that 3-D provides would be perfect for the kind of visuals that Carpenter had in the original where you'd have a character in the foreground and Michael looming in the distance behind them), real jump scares, and real terror is what's going to work for Halloween. Look at how well The Strangers (2008) did and that film was a complete Halloween homage. Come to think of it - get Strangers writer/director Bryan Bertino to do the new Halloween. That'd be perfect!
1) Bring Back The Boogeyman
Turning Michael Myers into a kid from a dysfunctional home was a losing move from the get-go, making him into just a dime-a-dozen psycho. The next Halloween needs to reestablish Michael Myers as The Boogeyman. Bring that implacable sense of mystery back to the character. And his look needs to be repaired, too. Get that decaying shit off Michael's face and get him back in the white mask, for crying out loud, and not looking like a hobo that slept in a dumpster. That smooth, white, emotionless mask is what's classic about Michael. If you're not going to go with that, why bother?
Zombie's reinvention of Michael reminds me of the long development process the Superman movie suffered in the '90s. You'd keep hearing that the producers were questioning why Superman needed a cape, why the costume had to be red and blue, why he needed to fly, why have an 'S' on his chest, and so on - all that kind of bullshit. Then there's the Godzilla remake from '98 where suddenly the iconic look of that character that the fans loved for decades and that everyone around the world recognized was shit-canned because some geniuses thought they had a better idea. Studios should learn that when they have a classic character, they need to embrace the fact that these characters have their following for a reason. When you whittle away what the fans love about these characters, you've got nothing left.
Some might say "oh, come on - we've seen it so many times, what's new about it?" But the whole point of sequels is that audiences want to revisit characters that they love (or formulas that they love - witness the ongoing success of the Final Destination films). When I went to see a new Dirty Harry movie in the '80s like Sudden Impact or The Dead Pool, it was never about - "Man, I wonder how Harry's going to react to crime this time around?" No, you're going for that familiarity - that's why sequels work. And even with the new Batman films, Nolan and co. have succeeded by embracing the core elements of that character - portraying Batman as the Dark Knight - not getting away from them. The same with the new Bond films, which have returned to the tougher Bond of the novels and the Sean Connery films. Getting back to basics works and it can work for Halloween, too.
Will any of these things come to pass in the new Halloween? I hope so. While the series is a little long in the tooth, I don't think that it's played out. It just needs to be handled with more care. Halloween is a classic brand that audiences want to support. The Weinstein Co. just needs to realize that on Halloween, everyone deserves one good scare. And if you give it to them, they'll keep coming back for more.