From Blumhouse Productions, creative consultant John Carpenter and director David Gordon Green (who also wrote the film with Danny McBride), Halloween is a terrifying look at the after-effects of the trauma that Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) experienced when Michael Myers put on the mask and went on a killing spree in Haddonfield, Illinois on Halloween night, four decades ago. But now, there’s also Karen (Judy Greer), the daughter who was taken away from her and who struggles with her mother’s non-stop paranoia, and the teenaged Allyson (Andi Matichak), who’s stuck in the middle of the rift between her mother and her grandmother, to keep safe, by any means necessary.
At the film’s Los Angeles press day, held on the appropriately Halloween-decorated backlot of Universal Studios, producer Jason Blum and executive producer John Carpenter spoke at a roundtable interview about how much the film industry has changed in the 40 years since the original Halloween came out in 1978, seeing Jamie Lee Curtis step into this role again, the ebbs and flows of horror, whether they ever consider fan expectations in filmmaking, the iconic music, and whether this movie would have existed without Jamie Lee Curtis. Carpenter also talked about how he feels about the Big Trouble in Little China sequel.
Question: So much has changed in the 40 years since the first Halloween came out. Have you felt a shift in the industry?
JOHN CARPENTER: Sure, I have. It’s a whole different business. The technology is different. We were shooting on film, in those days. That was it. You didn’t think about anything else. The studios are all different, too. There used to be one person at the studio, who was the creative.
JASON BLUM: Yeah, that’s gone now. There are massive committees, but we don’t have to deal with that. That’s why we make low-budget movies. We don’t have committees, but if you make expensive movies, then you have committees.
CARPENTER: There you go. It’s totally different. Everything is totally different. When I was working, Universal used to have its own departments. They had their own security. Now they don’t. They’ve hired it out to private people. It’s a really weird, different, alien landscape for me.
What was day one on the set like, once shooting finally started?
BLUM: I wasn’t there.
CARPENTER: I wasn’t there either. [Jason’s] philosophy is the best, though. He lets directors direct. They do it for a budget. It’s their movie, and that’s what you want in a producer. I applaud that. That’s unbelievable.
BLUM: The movie went through a bunch of stops and starts, before we really started prep, so it was very satisfying. It was one of the harder movies to pull together because there were so many moving pieces, so when it finally got going, it was very fun. I think what made it the most fun was having John and Jamie involved in it. For me, that was really the most personally satisfying bit of the whole thing.
John, were you on set with Jamie Lee Curtis, at all?
CARPENTER: I was, for little bit.
What was it like to see her playing Laurie Strode again?
CARPENTER: It was strange because it wasn’t my set. I wasn’t the director. I was a visitor. I didn’t know the crew. I didn’t know anybody. I know Jamie, so we just talked. It was a strange experience. I was an outsider, which was perfectly fine for me. I didn’t mind. They were a young crew, looking forward to their careers in Hollywood. I don’t have to look forward to mine. Mine is over. I can sit at home and look back on it. I don’t have to work.
John, speaking of reflecting, have you watched your old movies? Have you watched Halloween?
CARPENTER: No. [The last time I saw Halloween was when] Jamie Lee and I did a commentary for it. The way they make money is that they keep hawking these same DVDs, over and over again. They get Jamie and I talking on it, or they do some little thing. It’s just to get your money. That’s all it is. So, when we sat there for that, four or five years ago, I saw it.
What was your reaction to seeing this Halloween, for the first time?
CARPENTER: Oh, it was great. I love what they did with it. It was amazing. I’ve seen it go through some changes, too. I just think Jamie is amazing. I’m so proud of her. It was all pretty treacherous. For a producer, it’s treacherous.
We are very much in the midst of a horror boom right now. What do you think it is about horror stories, right now, that is clicking with people?
BLUM: My feeling about horror being a big deal right now is that it’s very cyclical. It’s a big deal, so now everyone is gonna make horror movies and there are gonna be a lot of crap ones, so then everyone is gonna say, “Horror is not working anymore.” And then, there’s gonna be much less horror movies, but there will be a great one that’s gonna stand out. And then, there’s gonna be a boom again.
CARPENTER: You’ve got the secret. You’re partially responsible for bringing in the new horror stuff.
BLUM: Since I started, I feel that it’s dipped down. Paranormal Activity bumped up found footage, and then it dipped. Now, it’s ramping back up again. I guarantee you that, in 12 months, there will be so many bad horror movies because people feel like they can make money, if they make a horror movie, and people will be like, “I’m never gonna see another horror movie again.” That’s the market. That’s how Hollywood works. The good ones always come to the top, which is good. I think that if you make a really good horror movie when it’s dipped, it’s muted. If The Quiet Ones came out four years ago, I don’t think it would have been as big of a thing as it was because it’s hot.