This fall, the 11th film in the Halloween franchise will hit theaters, but the approach is a bit different. Rather than attempting a remake, as writer/director Rob Zombie did in 2007, or attempting to match up with the almost cartoonishly complex mythology of the first seven sequels, co-writers Danny McBride and David Gordon Green (who's also directing) are simply throwing everything that happened after the original 1978 classic away.
That means that even Halloween II, which takes place on the same night and picks up immediately after the end of the first film, is not part of what McBride is calling an "alternate reality" for the franchise. It's a somewhat risky move considering the franchise's long history, but like Disney's decision to wipe the slate clean with the Star Wars Expanded Universe, it offers up a new world of possibilities for the creative team.
But what about the fans who grew up with the sequels? Sure, they're not all great, but they've been a part of Halloween history for decades, and many fans grew up wearing out VHS copies of Halloween 4 and 5, eager to see over and over again how Michael Myers just refused to give up. Even Halloween III: Season of the Witch, which attempted to drop the Myers mythology altogether and establish a kind of anthology format for the series, has enjoyed a reappraisal in recent years and has its own devoted fans. How are all of those devotees supposed to feel about yet another new continuity in the franchise?
Speaking to Flickering Myth at SXSW over the weekend, McBride emphasized both his excitement over getting to make his own direct sequel to the first film and his desire to pay tribute to the sequels that came before. If you're a fan of the original Halloween timeline, the new sequel will at least offer up some homages for your viewing pleasure.
“The Halloween franchise has kind of become a little bit of like choose your own adventure, you know, like there’s some many different versions, and the timeline is so mixed up, we just thought it would be easier to go back to the source and continue from there," he said. "It was nicer than knowing you’re working on Halloween 11, it just seemed cooler, ‘We’re making Halloween 2.‘ We do [reference the other movies]. For fans, we pay homage and respect to every Halloween that has been out there.”
McBride and Green's film will be set 40 years after the original and return to Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) — who's now a mother and grandmother — as Michael Myers reappears in her life. How the film will address Michael's disappearance and the 40-year gap between stories (something the other films have never had the chance to try) is still a mystery, but that means Laurie's days as a teacher living under an assumed name with her son (as in Halloween H20) no longer count, and neither do the stories about Laurie's daughter Jamie (as in Halloween 4 and 5), which were already rendered non-canon by later sequels. As McBride said, the franchise was complicated enough that starting over at film two seemed like the safest bet.
So, what kind of homages will we get? Will the iconic Silver Shamrock masks from Halloween III make an appearance? Will a photo of Donald Pleasence as an aged Dr. Sam Loomis, who continued to hunt Michael Myers years after the original film, pop up in the background? McBride is likely keen to keep the easter eggs hidden for now, but even if the later films are no longer canon, the new Halloween 2 is still showing them love.
The still-untitled Halloween sequel arrives October 19.