When the first news broke about a new Halloween movie by David Gordon Green and Danny McBride, there was immediately a curious sense of excitement in the tone of the movie industry websites reporting on it. The two creators in question are primarily known for dark and/or stoner comedy, like Eastbound & Down, Pineapple Express, Vice Principals and Your Highness. What was it about the resumes of these two that suggested they were capable of making a great Halloween film?
I still don’t know. I suspect perhaps it has to do with that natural intrigue that comes when people known for doing one type of thing pivot to the opposing genre – think Bill Murray going to drama, Robert DeNiro doing comedy, or the Russo brothers going straight from Arrested Development to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The results can be… iffy, but often they’re amazing.
If the newly released trailer is any indication, the excitement has not been misplaced for the new Halloween. See for yourself, if you haven’t already:
There’s a lot to be optimistic about. Jamie Lee Curtis is back, although she’s been “back” in this series three times already so I’m not sure how special that is now… John Carpenter is more directly involved in this project than he has been since Halloween 2, providing script notes and composing some new music. And the filmmakers look to be going back to the vibe of the original Halloween, without directly apeing Carpenter’s exact style. It looks somewhat minimal and “old school”, for lack of a better term. I also like a lot of the visual touches seen in the trailer – the “teeth gag”, the knife flip, the trick or treating scenes, and even that bonkers institution scene (seriously, what mental hospital would think a vast, empty, red and white checkered courtyard with leg shackles makes a good rehabilitation environment?).
But I do have one nitpick, and it’s one that bugs me quite often in this current remix culture we’ve got: the title.
This new Halloween is not a remake, it’s a direct sequel to the original movie (and ONLY the original, let’s be clear on that). So calling it just “Halloween” is confusing. It’s like if the new Blade Runner movie were just called “Blade Runner”. They did this with the maligned The Thing prequel in 2011, essentially tricking audiences into thinking they were watching a remake.
Of course, that complaint begs the question, what DO you title this damn thing?
Calling it Halloween 2 would be even more confusing; there have already been two films with that title. It was widely rumored that this Halloween would be called Halloween: H40 – also confusing and lame to boot. This is not at all related to Halloween: H20 even though the premise is similar. They could have gone with something like “Halloween: 40 Years Later”… kinda dumb but at least unambiguous. Or, if Blumhouse Pictures really wanted to shoot themselves in the foot they could have titled it “Laurie Strode” or something. Thank god that didn’t happen (I hate when movies are titled with a mundane sounding proper name).
My vote would have been “Halloween: The Night He Came Home”. Although it’s a little on the long side, it gives the new movie a unique identity, while also calling back directly to the original film, an association they very much want audiences to make. It avoids assigning a number to it, which by this point is too fucked chronologically to ever make sense again. Branching timelines in long-running series are destined to be convoluted.
One last note: The new Halloween is coming out October 19th!!! I’ve long complained about horror movie release dates refusing to take advantage of the most-lucrative Halloween build-up period. Essentially, big studio horror movies tend to be released any time of the year EXCEPT the first three weeks of October. No, I still don’t know why studios do this. But the October 19th release for Halloween gives it two whole weekends plus three good days leading up to the holiday for which it was named. Good on you, Blumhouse. That shows they’ve got more confidence in this being good than the usual franchise installment coming out as close to October 31st as humanly possible. I’m in.