Filmmaker Michael Dougherty recalls the project's lengthy gestation on Mick Garris' 'Post Mortem' podcast

By Clark Collis
October 25, 2017 at 11:00 AM EDT

The much-loved 2007 horror film Trick ‘r Treat was written and directed by Michael Dougherty, who would go on to make Krampus and the upcoming Godzilla: King of Monsters. But the Halloween-set anthology film was almost brought to the big screen by a Masters of Horror murderers’ row, as Dougherty reveals on the latest episode of filmmaker Mick Garris’ Post Mortem podcast. That proposed lineup of filmmakers? George Romero (Night of the Living Dead), John Carpenter (Halloween), Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre), and special effects maestro Stan Winston (The Terminator, Jurassic Park).

“The character of Sam, which is the sort of demonic trick-or-treater which wanders around between the different stories, he started off as an animated character that I did for a short film at NYU,” Dougherty recalled. “So, he was essentially my senior thesis film…One of the first people that I sent the film to was Stan Winston, because I was just a massive fan of his. Who wasn’t? Surprisingly, he wrote back, or he reached out, and said, ‘Saw the short, loved it, if you’re ever in L.A., let me know, and I’d love to sit down, and hear about what you want to do.’ And so, I booked a flight to Los Angeles. [Laughs] I took him up on the invitation, wasn’t going to let him squeeze out of it, and sat down. And he said, ‘Listen you need to be making movies.’ Because I was an animator at Nickelodeon at the time…He’s like, ‘Have you written a spec script yet?’ And I said, ‘No, I haven’t done that.’ He goes, ‘Well, you should do that.’…Stan was the first one to read [the script for Trick ‘r Treat] and say, ‘There’s really something here, I’d love to produce this.’ And so he assembled George Romero, himself, John Carpenter, and Tobe [Hooper]. What a lineup, right? Took it out, nobody wanted to touch it. I mean, I remember the notes we got back from some of the studios, and one that stuck out for me was, ‘This movie has vampires and werewolves, which are too old-fashioned. Nobody wants to see vampires and werewolves.’ I was mildly offended by that, you know. Because I was like, Well, I want to see vampires and werewolves! This was when they were doing Scream knock-offs. The only kind of horror being made was twentysomethings playing teenagers being stalked by someone in a mask…But that setback really allowed me the time to continue working on the script, and then I also went and wrote a couple of Bryan Singer’s movies (X-Men 2 and Superman Returns), and that helped me learn about production, because I had to be on set for those. And so, because of that delay, I got enough experience that Legendary/Warner Bros. said, ‘Hey, well, do you want to direct it?'”

Doughtery also offered an update on the long-awaited Trick ‘r Treat sequel.

“My hope is that once Godzilla has been put to rest that I can dive back into it,” said the filmmaker. “I would love to finish writing it in postproduction and then I’d love to make it my next project. But we’ll see.”

You can hear Garris’ full interview with Dougherty — as well as part of his recent Beyond Fest chat with Suspiria director Dario Argento — at the PodcastOne website.