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John Carpenter’s classic film HALLOWEEN will be returning to theaters this year for a one night experience in celebration of that special holiday. The event will be co-hosted by Fathom Events and SpectiCast.
With all of the excitement in the air about HALLOWEEN RETURNS being developed and now being pushed back, D-D had a chance to talk with producer Malek Akkad about what HALLOWEEN means to him as well as a whole lot more.
DD: Thanks for speaking with me today, Malek. I love the fact that here we are talking about a movie that's almost 40 years old now, yet it still has life and it's still coming to theaters. As a genre fan, that's one of the coolest things I could possibly think of.
Malek Akkad: "Well, I agree with you. It doesn't hurt that it's tied to a recurring holiday every year [laughs]. That definitely helps. But I do think it's really a testament to the amazing masterpiece, I will say, that John Carpenter created that has thrilled audiences for so long and for so many different generations.
It's great, also, that it's not even just the original that still resonates. At the time, my father was taking a bet on a young, very confident, brash filmmaker. They connected as directors. If you look at the franchise and how it endured, that's something I would credit my father with—keeping it alive, sustaining Michael, and really nurturing it, and nurturing the fans' wishes at the best of his ability."
DD: And you then grew up in this franchise in many ways, coming on to work on Halloween 4 as a PA. Was that your first foray into the world of Halloween professionally?
Akkad: "That was the first Halloween that I got to work on. Although I'd been on my father's sets since I was a little boy, so the bug got set into me very early. But looking back on that time, I could never have imagined what a big part of my life that this film would go on to become, and still is to this day."
DD: For the re-release, is this something that you guys want to make sure is an annual tradition from here on out? I know there have been a few screenings of Halloween over the years, but are you guys hoping that maybe this now becomes an annual tradition?
Akkad: "I think it should be and yes, that's definitely our hope: that every Halloween you can go and enjoy the film, and new generations of fans can be exposed to it as well. We did a 15 minute featurette with John Carpenter recently, an exclusive never-before-seen interview, where really the thrust of the featurette is him discussing why it needs to be experienced or why he intended it to be experienced on the big screen in this sort of communal experience with an audience. John also talks a lot about why that's an important way to experience it, especially since today people watch films on their computers, their laptops or on their phones, even. It's interesting to hear his thoughts on it and the fans will get to hear him say that directly when they go see the film. You're going to see a couple really great, candid moments in this interview that I think people will love.
As you know, he's talked about this film so many times, so we really tried to gear it as much as we could to things that he hadn't been asked yet. You'll definitely be hearing some fresh responses out of John."
DD: I’d like to talk about Season of the Witch for a second because, for me, it's kind of cool to see how fans have now really come to embrace it as a great film—even without Michael—whereas when it was released, that was something that ended up being a huge issue for many people.
Akkad: "Absolutely. I've enjoyed seeing that, too. It's really an interesting turn in the franchise because by everybody's account, at the end of II, Michael was burned to death. The common thought was, "Well, that's it. We can't do another." It was my father who said, "Why not?" As he was making it, a lot of people thought it was risky at the very least—if not crazy—but he proved that there's a staying power of this franchise."
DD: Is that the hardest thing to do when you're trying to make a sequel—meet fan expectations?
Akkad: "Well, fan expectations are a good and bad thing. You want the fans to be anticipating and you're always going to let some down because some want it frame by frame to be like the original. Fortunately the original's always there. What we've seen historically is that the great palette John created has been interpreted by many filmmakers with better or worse results. It as an essence—the palette he created—has been able to survive all these different iterations and interpretations.
But what's more difficult than that is getting all this stuff that fans aren't aware of lined up. Whether it's the rights, the agents, the managers, the studios—putting all those pieces together really is the hardest part of doing a sequel."
DD: Looking back at these films and how they've been embraced over the years, what would you say has been your biggest takeaway from this series, and how it not only shaped the genre itself, but has also shaped fandom in its own way?
Akkad: "It's amazing to me. The fans are hands down some of the greatest, nicest, loyal people I've ever met. When I interact with them, wherever it may be, they're fantastic. The first film went so far in establishing this holiday. As a kid who grew up in the ’70s, that film is exactly what we experienced. It was very much kids running around with your pillow, sheets, and getting candy. That was a foreign idea to foreign countries. They hadn't seen that part of Halloween. Halloween really had a big part in spreading the holiday around the world and that's pretty amazing."
DD: Do you have a singular favorite moment from the Halloween franchise?
Akkad: "Such a great question. There are two that really stand out for me. Although I worked on Halloween 4, it was when my father asked me to work on Halloween 6—I hadn't really worked with him before that closely. So that film was kind of a reestablishing of our father-son relationship in a very powerful way, and then I worked on them ever since.
After his tragic passing, the remake is probably the next one that I'm most proud of because after we lost him, I didn't want to lose the franchise as well. I wanted to continue it because I knew he would want it to continue. I did it very much out of respect for what he'd created. Ultimately, if I had to pick one, it would be doing that remake and being able to dedicate it to him. That was a very proud moment for me."
DD: In regards to Rob Zombie, I was a huge fan of his going into the first Halloween movie that he did, but I will totally admit that I didn't love it at first. But what I think is really cool—and I think a lot of people are finally doing this—is that you go back and watch them and realize there are some great things that he did with that film and with the sequel.
I think us fans had these tempered expectations for what we were going to see and they didn’t really hit those expectations, but I don’t think they were supposed to. So now, to really dig into those movies in retrospect, I actually really admire Rob's Halloween II and the risks that he took with that story, and the visuals he accomplished are wholly unexpected. It took a few years for me to realize that as a fan, I should've been grateful that I wasn't getting what I was expecting.
Akkad: "Well, that's a great point. When we went to do the remake, of course the expectations were huge. Everyone has in their mind what a remake should look like, but what I tried to do was work very closely with Rob and give him the space he needed as a director.
I remember specifically having the conversation with him early on, saying, "This has to be your film. You need to make your mark on it." We had to give him that freedom to really take it places where he wanted to go. In my mind, there was no point in doing this the same way they did the Psycho frame by frame remake. It was going to be a reimagining.
But in some ways, because it's been so long since his Halloween II, I think that the next Halloween is going to be a huge, hopefully well-received film, but it's going to be more of a classic reboot once again with another very interesting filmmaker. So we'll see how that is received eventually."
DD: Well, I'm definitely looking forward to it. It's always a bummer when things have to get a little sidelined while you make sure everything's perfect. Honestly, as fans, we can wait it out.
Akkad: "I hope so. I know people are dying for info. There's nothing more that I want to do than just tell them everything. It's not quite out there yet, but we're figuring it all out. The one thing I'm sure is that the fans are going to be super happy, so hopefully the wait is worth it."