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There was a time when
Halloween meant horror movies. It used to be that when the leaves went yellow
and the pumpkins got ripe, fans could expect an avalanche of theatrical horror
titles ranging from spooky to gory to silly and everything in between. Now,
thanks to the SAW and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY franchises pounding their war flags
on top of the holiday and sending any contending fright flicks scurrying off to
January’s dumping grounds, modern horror fans face dwindling options at the
ticket counter come All Hallows Eve.
To our rescue rides Fango writer and maven
of all things Michael Myers, Mr. Justin Beahm. In addition to compiling the
upcoming definitive book on the HALLOWEEN franchise and supervising the series’
official website (HalloweenMovies), the very busy Mr. Beahm is spearheading
the recently announced HALLOWEEN theatrical revival across the country (and as
of this writing, the film has now booked dates in the U.K. as well).
Yes, John Carpenter’s immortal minimalist
distillation of pure suburban terror is coming back to big screens to slake our
thirst for something really scary. Along with a lively discussion on some of
the more unfairly-maligned installments in the long and tortured legacy of
fictional Haddonfield, Illinois, Mr. Beahm chatted with Fango on the challenges
and triumphs behind resurrecting the man in the mask...
FANGORIA: About the upcoming HALLOWEEN
nationwide screenings, was it your idea to bring the film back to theaters?
BEAHM: It was, yeah. After Rob Zombie’s second
HALLOWEEN came out and did well at the box office, immediately talk started
about another film. 3D, they decided it was going to be, and it was announced
and put on the schedule. There was even a release date set for this October. It’s
not unusual for Hollywood to announce something way in advance, but when the
pieces didn’t come together on that and the fans were kind of left a little
disappointed, I knew that we had to do something for them. That, coupled with a
lot of people saying, “We’d like a return to the feel, the atmosphere, and slower
pace of Carpenter’s original.” Throughout the series it was always a note that
most of the filmmakers were trying to find. So I figured, “Well, we have an
opportunity here with a mostly empty October,” with almost no horror films in
theatres. And we also have fans wanting a return to the original style—why not
just give them the original? Why not just make this happen? We ended up finding
Screenvision, who has an amazing number of screens all across the country. They
got it from the start. They shot us what they considered to be an aggressive
estimate of three hundred theatres. I would have been happy with three hundred
on board, but as of yesterday, we crossed the threshold of over five hundred.
And so the response has been absolutely amazing. Everyone behind this release
is thrilled about the momentum is has.
FANG: And how has the fan feedback been on
the idea of this revival?
BEAHM: The fans for HALLOWEEN are
incredible. It’s absolutely on par with STAR WARS or STAR TREK, in their
dedication to discussion about the films, every minor aspect… It is almost
thirty-five years now that this series has been in business, and they still
talk about it with such enthusiasm, like it just came out. It’s incredible. So
now, as a result of that, word spread very fast. Discussion is always heated
and very emotional about things like this, and you never really know what
you’re going to find when you put your toe in the water, but the response to
this has been absolutely amazing. And that’s ultimately the greatest reward in
this. The opportunity to give fans the chance to sort of step back in time to
1978, to be in the theater and really take this in as the full experience. Most
people that are out there—logging onto the Facebook page or Halloweenmovies.com
or whatever else—many of them have never seen any of these movies in the
theater, except maybe for Rob Zombie’s. Yeah, the response has been fantastic.
FANG: Are you going with a digital print
for the screenings?
BEAHM: It is digital. What we did was we
struck a new transfer with brand new 5.1 audio on it. It’s a lot simpler with
this kind of a booking to do it this way. A few people have been a little
disappointed that it isn’t rolling in 35, but there are always going to be
revival houses to do that. In order to take it to the masses, we just had to
go, “All right, digital is going to be it,” and that’s fine. The clarity in the
picture is amazing, and I think even the die-hards will be seeing new things.
FANG: I understand that you’ve also put
together an all-new short documentary to screen before the feature?
BEAHM: Yeah, one of the things Screenvision
was really interested in was new content. They gave us a time limit to it,
because theatres are really restrictive as to how long your film can be if
you’re not a TITANIC or DANCES WITH WOLVES or something huge. Theatre time is
valuable to them, so [the documentary] had to be pretty concise. The approach
that I took was exploring the cultural presence of the Boogeyman around the
world, and how in the United States that translates to the character of Michael
Myers. So, it explores the roots of the Boogeyman and how that figure
transitions into cinema and popular culture here. It also touches a little on
how the violence in the series has reflected the world we live in.
FANG: You’ve probably gotten this question
many times, but why do you think a thirty-five year old, low-budget movie like
HALLOWEEN holds such an enduring appeal?
BEAHM: I think, at its core, what makes
HALLOWEEN so effective is the fact that The Shape isn’t something from outer
space, or something with superhuman powers. It’s a film about this evil
penetrating the normally comfy confines of suburbia, and the places that we
hold sacred. In so many of these pictures and stories about evil, oftentimes we
venture into the dark places and encounter whatever it is lurking there. What
HALLOWEEN does so effectively, and so simply, is that it puts Michael in the
shadows that exist in every one of our homes; into the spaces in which we
normally find safety and security, and he can emerge at any time from those
recesses. I think that that fear is universal and speaks to everyone. HALLOWEEN
touches on something very primal in all of us. Interestingly, as a result of
the series continuing for so long and exploring the exploits of Michael, he has
become something of a cultural icon, almost like a Charles Manson. He’s
certainly not a hero in any regard; he does no good, yet he is all over
merchandise, tattooed on people, and omnipresent this time of year. And, of course,
the mask is so perfectly iconic, eternal, and haunting in its simplicity.
FANG: You were also behind some of the
extra features on the new blu-ray releases for HALLOWEEN 4 & 5. Can you
tell how that gig came about?
BEAHM: This goes back to my dealings with
Trancas. When the Blu-rays were being put together with Anchor Bay, we wanted
to make sure there’d be some new content on there for fans. On part Five, we
found some extensive production footage from the set. That opened up about
fifteen minutes. There was a hint of
that on a previous release, but we wanted to show as much as we could this time
around to give people a glimpse into the actual making-of. On both Four and
Five, we wanted to do new commentaries, so I called up Dwight Little, the
director of part Four, who has never done a commentary for this picture before.
In fact, he’s never really been involved with the whole fan thing until now;
not because he didn’t want to be, necessarily, but it just hasn’t happened. So
bringing him in to record that track was a really cool thing that fans have
been asking for, for a long time. I saw my role in that as really just to steer
Dwight into interesting territory and address some of the questions that fans
have had for years, and to talk about the key mysteries behind the making of
the film. The white hair on the mask, for example, stuff like that. I wanted to
be as fan-friendly as possible and keep him talking. Same thing with the commentary
on part Five. There has never been a commentary by a Michael Myers before, so I
called up [stunt performer] Don Shanks, and we got connected and recorded a
track together. I’m proud of what came out of both of those, and the fan
response has been really positive.
FANG: Any updates on the progress of your
official HALLOWEEN book?
BEAHM: The aim has always been for a
release next fall. We haven’t made any formal announcement on the date yet,
because we’re still in the production stages on it. We’ll announce it as soon
as we can, but it’s still very much “in the works.” Want to make sure to give
it as much time as it needs to be as good as it deserves to be; to give the
fans what they deserve.
FANG: With so many different talents behind
HALLOWEEN as a franchise, are you finding it difficult to pull together
participation for the book?
BEAHM: Honestly, no. Everybody involved
with the film series has been amazing. HALLOWEEN is a unique series in that so
much has been written—and even filmed; there have been many documentaries—almost
entirely focusing on the first picture, though you have nine other films there
with stories to be told that have gone pretty much unheard. As a result, while
the rest of the people involved with the series have spent years reading what Carpenter
and Debra Hill and other folks had to say about the first, they’re like, “Hey,
there are stories here too.” I’m excited to finally give them a voice, and they
were all more than happy to pitch in and be a part of it. It’s been great, and
I am still bringing new people onto the project every week.
FANG: You mentioned nine films, so you must
be including Rob Zombie’s pair of divisive HALLOWEEN remakes?
BEAHM: Absolutely. Every film in the series
is getting equal space and attention in the book, which is really a love letter
to the fans. There are many people who say that HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION is
their favorite in the series, or Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN is their favorite.
There’s a group of people who love each and every one of these movies for
different reasons, and so for that, I figure we owe it to everybody to give
every film equal attention and love.
Beahm goes on to mention some of the
projects on his horizon that will no doubt set Myers fanatics to salivate. This
includes putting convention-floor bootleg emporiums on notice (“I am committed
to getting the Producer’s cut of HALLOWEEN 6 out in some way. It’s definitely
complicated terrain in having that kind of thing released,” Beahm teases) and more.
BEAHM: As for me, I am just doing my best to keep Haddonfield
For much more on the HALLOWEEN re-release, including theaters and showtimes, visit Halloween on Screen.
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