A lifelong movie buff and genre polymath, David Gordon Green was very excited to write and direct the new Halloween movie, but he had one very particular concern. He knew how to build characters and tension, but mass slasher murder presented a new challenge.
"I was very uncertain about that entering production," the filmmaker told SYFY WIRE. "We just shot it a lot of different ways and we found it in the editing room. I didn't know if I wanted restraint or gratuitousness. I didn't know if I wanted surprise or suspense. I was a little uneducated... So I wanted to make sure I covered my ass in case one approach was better than the other for each particular sequence."
Green watched the original Halloween about 90 times to study the various elements of the film, including the kills. His Michael Myers murders wound up being equal parts brutal and straightforward, bloody and playful but very much to the point. They are the primary way that Myers' displays his twisted sense of humor, and their indiscriminate gruesomeness justify the years of paranoid preparation undertaken by Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and the legends she told her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak).
And while Green says he was uncertain about some of the kills, he did some strong inspirations for others. Near the end of the second act, one of Allyson's high school pals suffers a grisly death on a fence that he had in mind for a very long time.
"That was inspired by a photograph that I saw probably 25 years ago of a kid that was trying to climb over a fence," Green divulged. "You can Google it, it's f***ed up. That image has been burned in my mind so I always thought if I ever make a horror movie, I want to have somebody impaled up through the chin on a fence."
Obviously, we wanted to look for the photo, so Green offered a few more specifics to help our hunt.
"You can Google 'head impaled on a fence,' and there's a hundred of them, but this one is this one dude, I think it's in Central Park," he said. "This dude that was trying to jump a fence and he survived. It goes through his chin and out his mouth, and it's just a disgusting image. That's one that I showed the effects guys, and that's the inspiration."
He's right about the abundance of photos of chins being impaled by fences on the internet, and we haven't found the particular image that inspired one of Halloween's most grisly deaths. We can dream, though.
The chin impaling was far from the only death that received careful consideration, though many of the other kills were much more extemporaneous in nature. One of the off-script murders was also one of the funnier (and gorier) deaths.
"Our production designer had the idea of carving the one dude's head into a human jack-o-lantern and then sticking a police flashlight through it," Green said. "We're just movie geeks having fun and having a laugh and drinking beer and coming up with imaginative ways to illustrate someone's demise... which is both exciting and disturbing."
Instead of taking a specific inspiration or coming from one particular person's vision, other kills were shot over and over again, from different angles and with different timing.
"That was another one where we did master shot 11 times," he said. "I have a version where the woman closes the blinds right as he's about to stab her — she lowers the blinds in the version that exists in the movie and then he stabs her through the throat."
Other versions, he said, were less graphic — there's one where she shuts the blinds before Michael Myers arrives, with her scream providing the indication that she's been slaughtered. Another version has her throat slashed, but her head goes un-smashed. "You try things, you audition it, and then you get in the editing room and you see how it all works together," the filmmaker explains.
The movie's home video release will be loaded with some of these alternate murders, giving gore-fanatics and murder students a lot to review. The movie also provides a lesson in run-and-gun filmmaking, even on a studio scale. One of the movie's most gory murders, Green said, made the cut because it was one of the rare times they didn't have the luxury of shooting any number of different variations on the same kill.
"You know where that dude gets his head sawed?" I didn't want it to be that gross, I just kind of wanted a little crunch, but then we didn't have time to re-shoot it," he said. "So, it's just f***ing soup and spaghetti. But then you watch it in the theater and you're like, well it's effective."
Effective is an understatement — Halloween, which was distributed by NBC, which is owned by NBCUniversal, SYFY's parent company, made $77.5 million in its opening weekend.