With Halloween Kills now playing in theaters and streaming for free on Peacock, I recently spoke to director David Gordon Green about the making of the sequel. During the wide-ranging interview, he talked about how he made a bet on the set of the first Halloween that if the film made one hundred million dollars he would get his first tattoo (which he shows on camera), if Kenny Powers could take down Michael Myers, why shooting all nights makes it a difficult shoot, if he had any battles with the MPAA over the brutal kill scenes, how they had to restage a sequence on a soundstage and it turned into one of his favorite sequences in the film, the ending, how the Blu-ray will have an extended cut, who gets to keep the mask, and more. In addition, Green talked about the final chapter in his trilogy, Halloween Ends, the status of the script, when the film takes place, how they’re going to start shooting in January, and more.
In Halloween Kills, which starts right as the last film ends, we are back in the town of Haddonfield and dealing with the aftermath of the events of 2018’s Halloween, which saw Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), and her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) narrowly escaping the clutches of Michael Myers. As they are rushing to the hospital to get Laurie Strode medical treatment, the fire department is rushing to her home to put out the blaze, which leads them to unintentionally set Myers free to continue his rampage. As you can imagine, chaos ensues, and Myers shows no mercy to the people he encounters. Moreover, Halloween Kills brings back several more characters from the iconic franchise — Anthony Michael Hall plays a grown-up Tommy Doyle, and Kyle Richards will reprise her role as Lindsey Wallace from the 1978 film. Nancy Stephens also returns to the franchise as Marion Chambers, former assistant to Dr. Loomis.
Watch what David Gordon Green had to say in the player above or you can read the full transcript below.
COLLIDER: When the movie came out, the first one, you guys made it on a budget, what was your optimistic goal of what this might make at the worldwide box office? Were you like maybe if we get to 50 million, this is going to be great?
DAVID GORDON GREEN: I was a real pessimist and I think a lot of my career has kind of beaten me down with beaten the optimism out of the box office for my own idea. So I remember there was a moment on set where I was really down. It was a tattoo on a dummy of Miles Robbins that was looking kind of questionable and we were struggling with lighting and trying to make this effect look real. I was like nobody’s going to see this movie. I’m just another one. I’m just Halloween 11. That’s all I am. I’m Halloween 11 and nobody’s going to give a except eight people. And the camera department says, “No, this movie is going to make a hundred million dollars. We were sure of it”. I’m, you know what? If it makes a hundred million dollars, I’m going to get that tattoo that Miles Robbins has on his arm.
So opening day of the movie, or not opening day of the movie, actually opening day of the movie, they reminded me of the bet. So then on the date, on 10-31-18, I had to get my first tattoo, which I’d always said, I would never get one. But in those circumstances with that type of a success, it was no question. Just to have a group of collaboratives that’s that confident in something in my moments of doubt and insecurity, because inevitably, everybody with any artistic sensibility has a little bit of that neurosis and that sense of being under appreciated. I have that all the time.
I’m assuming you didn’t make a bet on the second movie for box office?
GREEN: Did not. Well that’s what’s so crazy too, is we made the movie two years ago and it’s been sitting on a shelf for a year. Who knows, and then we’ve got a Peacock streaming component of this movie that adds to the uncertainty of it of not only are we in a competitive landscape of these big blockbuster movies. We’re a seasonal movie and we’re a franchise movie, and I think we’re going to do pretty good, but it’s always…you never know on weeks like this, where you’re leading up to the anticipation of a release, it’s just, to me, that’s just exciting. I like the butterflies I’ve gotten in my stomach this morning.
Do you think Kenny Powers could take down Michael Myers?
GREEN: No, he would be destroyed. Yeah. Not even close. Although, Danny did this morning, he just read the draft for Halloween Ends and he was working on some stuff and he’s, I think I might need a cameo, I need to fight that motherfucker.
I actually wondered something, someone on the Collider staff asked, did you ever consider having Danny McBride play Michael?
GREEN: Not Michael, but we always entertain… It’s fun when he comes to set because everybody’s, when’s he jumping in?
So this is another question someone on the staff asked, did you use the same property for Laurie Strode’s murder house trap, as you did for Neal Gamby’s house in season two of Vice Principals?
GREEN: It’s not…It’s funny. We scouted that house for Gamby’s house and then did not end up using it. But when I was writing Laurie’s house, I was writing with that in mind because we’d scouted it, makes sense?
A hundred percent. When you were making the first one, how much have you guys actually figured out about the trilogy or at the time were you sort of, let’s just make one movie, we’ll figure out if we’re going to do more later, in terms of the story?
GREEN: We had a lot of ideas in a very first fat draft of the first one, we had a big Haddonfield community component with some returning characters, but we ended up being afraid of the ambition and scope of that. So we kept it a little bit more contained, praying for success so that we could then expand it. Then we had a lot of ideas at the buffet table of what we would do, and then it was coming up with that ending and how we concluded in Halloween Ends.
Did you end up getting into any battles with the MPAA or are they pretty much, they know this is going to be very violent and you don’t have to shave any frames?
GREEN: I always have conversations with them about things like when I’m making Manglehorn like why is this rated R? There’s no profanity, drug use, sex or anything? Why are you trying to rate it R? Then I have to go appeal to have a PG-13 movie. But with this movie, which is disgusting and gratuitous in grotesque, you would think that you would have conversations, but it seems to be swallowed pretty easily.
I have such strong feelings. I’m not going to make you say anything about the MPAA, but I have such strong feelings about how full of shit they are, because you could literally, in Halloween Kills, you can do the most crazy stuff to people, no problem. But if you show part of a boob, that’s R-rated.
GREEN: In Prince Avalanche, that Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch movie I made a few years ago. There’s no profanity, no violence, but one time, Emile talks about fingering and it’s a rated-R movie. That’s the only off-color note in the entire film. And it’s rated R. For that movie, it’s not worth the fight, but you’re, really?
I have such strong feelings. So I’m curious about with this film, the new Halloween, did you have a much longer first cut or how efficient are you filming with the budget you have and the time?
GREEN: This was an 85-page script. I like short scripts. I never go into production with anything over a 93-page script because I know I play and in every 93-page script is going to be a two hour first cut. This was probably an hour and 50 minute first cut. I don’t know that there’s any deleted scenes, but we tighten some stuff up and went for the momentum rather than, it’s not a very patient and profound pace to the movie. We just kind of tighten it up, but it was wild. Every single day was difficult. It was seven weeks of nights. We’re all in this crazy dream like surreal state of mind making it. I think that’s reflected in the movie. I think there is a little bit of a dreamy, abstracts, surreal quality to it.
I just interviewed Keanu Reeves for his comic book and he was telling me that he’s been filming for three and a half months on John Wick 4, shooting nights. And you can see in his eyes when he talks about it… You know what I mean? You become just a different person I guess. I’ve never done that before.
GREEN: Yeah. It’s really challenging. I mean, you go to bed when the sun comes up and sometimes there’s an opportunity. There’s a big fight sequence with the community versus Michael on this movie. We lost the night. So I’m, well, we still got 11 kills to go when we have it’s daylight. So we just ended up re-staging it on a stage, put Michael on a turntable and basically had an assembly line of victims enter the turntable as he’s spinning. We’re this is never going to work. This is absurd, but it became one of my favorite sequences in the movie because you’ve just never seen a slaughter like this before. That is a strange ballet of violence.
I’m curious with the ending of this film, how did you guys decide where you wanted to end this one? And was it always this, or did you have another option?
GREEN: There’s actually, we’re going to do a…This is the director’s cut through and through, but there’s an additional scene that we filmed that was scripted. And actually I think is a pretty brilliant scene. So we’re going to do an extended version on the DVD, just so people can see an extended ending that’s different and cool. We ended up lifting it when I became more confident of where we’re going to pick up in the next movie, it felt it didn’t feel authentic to where we’re going to go. So we lifted it.
So we just said, we’re kind of coming up with, okay, then if we lift that, where do we end? And it was actually Couper Samuelson at Blumhouse, he was just, let’s just end when it’s over. Lights out. He mentioned it, he was like remember in Rogue One, when you wanted the movie to end? When it was a Darth Vader going ballistic at the door. And it was, yes.
Well, my question is, is the scene that you cut that will be in the extended version? Is that a scene that is it canon? Is it part of the movie or is this just a fun other scene?
GREEN: It’s part of the movie. It’s just not part of the appropriate momentum of…I think it was cool in its own right as watching a one-off movie, but knowing where we’re going to exactly where we’re going to pick up which, you’ll know in a year, it wasn’t the right look in the eye that we needed to give the audience.
I don’t know if you want to talk about this and if you don’t, then I’ll just not bring it, to say you don’t want to, but with the ending of the film, you can interpret the ending with what’s going on with Michael in, I think two different ways. I’m just curious if you want to talk about what you wanted to have happen with him or what you were looking for the audience to get out of that ending?
GREEN: I think a lot of it like any ending that has any degree of ambiguity for the filmmaker’s perspective, you’re just, let’s get people talking, lets people…Go see the movie and let’s talk about it later and see what we think.
But he’s a hard character to write for, because you’ve got to create some sort of magnetism and motivation for someone that has no magnetism or motivation. He doesn’t talk, he doesn’t give you anything. He’s expressionless and emotionless and he is just going somewhere or he’s wandering somewhere. So we tried to send some sort of beacon and in this movie it’s his childhood home and what that means to him and what that does to him when he arrives.
Who gets to keep the mask at the end of the shoot, or is it the same mask on every…Did you use the same mask in Halloween and this one and the next one? Or do you sort of say, we should make a few extra masks because I want to keep one from each movie?
GREEN: We make two masks for each movie and this was different because it involves, because he was cooking in the basement for a little while so we wanted to have some new texture on it. There are two masks that you make. And I get one and Christopher Nelson gets one. At the end of the day, that’s the deal. So yeah, my office is starting to get a little creepy.
Have you framed them or are they just, how do you display them?
GREEN: I got them in those little bell jar. What do you call those things? Those little glass cases that they’re mounted and looking sinister.
If you don’t mind, you should take a photo and release a photo because I think fans, A, I want to see them and B, I know fans would love to see them.
GREEN: Yeah, well, it’s fun, whenever I zoom from back in Charleston where I live, they’re always in the background looking over me, keeping an eye on me, making sure I don’t talk shit.
I am riddled with the jealousy, just riddled. One of the things that’s interesting about this film, I guess, and I don’t know how much you can say about the last installment of Halloween, but where were you guys in the writing process? Can you talk about where you are in the scripting process?
GREEN: Well, I mean a week ago I said we’re done and then a few bright ideas and conversations like this that inspire me. And then I’m reunited with a lot of the cast members and doing the press junket. So I’m just… And watching the movie with a new eye.
I did get to work this weekend and made some revisions and I’ll be doing that until we’re done editing, we really do keep ourselves as writers. I’ve got two new writing collaborators on this with me and Danny, Paul Logan, and Chris Bernier who were just huge Halloween fans. So we always try to bring new voices into the mix. They poke holes in our story and they played devil’s advocate and they bring new ideas and new reference points. Yeah, this weekend, all weekend, I was rampaging on a new pass of it, but we start prep in two weeks. So they’re wanting me to lock in something more definitive, which I think we’ll be in good shape for that to shoot in January.
Does the next film, the third film, does it start right after the second film ends? The way you did it with the second film? Or is there a time jump?
GREEN: There is a time jump, it gets back onto a contemporary timeline. So it’ll jump four years.
It’s interesting because I was thinking you had to do something like that because you want to have Jamie more in the action, not suffering from a stomach kind of, you know what I mean?
GREEN: Yeah. That’s a big thing. A lot of this movie was tricky, not only in writing the shape and his lack of character, but keeping her in a realistic scenario. There’s a graphic surgery that we film of her. Then once you’ve done that, she’s not going to be doing a lot of Kung Fu so.
A hundred percent. Do you envision your third film as the ending of the Halloween saga? Do you want it to continue after you’re done?
GREEN: I mean, my ego says create something that is a four-part series beginning with Carpenter’s, 1978 film, and then our follow-up trilogy. I’m sure the mythology takes over and Michael and Laurie will emerge in some new capacity with some new filmmaker, storyteller behind them. But for me, I’ll be done. I hope they’ll take a little time off before they resuscitate it. But that’s just my ego.
When do you actually film the movie?
GREEN: In January.
So you have a few months to really get it together?
GREEN: Yeah. I guess you could call it that.
Let me say a few months to get the script.
GREEN: The scripts in great shape. It’s just a matter of committing to certain paths and characters and constructing new set pieces. Then you get into the realities of schedule and budget and people say, what happens if you lose that scene? You save some time and money and can use that somewhere else. I don’t know. You get into that type of massage. So I never look at anything it’s done until we’re sound mixing.
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