Laurie Strode is becoming unhinged.
“I saw the shape of the bad man, and I had a gun, and I didn’t know what to do with it!”
It is day 19 on the Charleston, S.C., set of Halloween, a sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 horror classic of the same name. Jamie Lee Curtis is back playing the slasher genre’s most celebrated heroine, surrounded by her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), son-in-law Ray (Toby Huss), and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). In the original film, Laurie was a teenage babysitter who narrowly escaped masked killer Michael Myers after he had slain three of her friends. In the new Halloween (out Oct. 19), Curtis’ character remains in the fictional town of Haddonfield, Ill., haunted by Myers and obsessed with the possibility of his return. The killer has spent the previous four decades in a psychiatric institution and is now being transferred to a maximum-security prison, but Strode is convinced he still presents a murderous threat.
“She was really unhinged from the whole experience,” Curtis tells EW of Laurie’s ordeal back in 1978. “The woman we meet 40 years later is really a walking example of PTSD.”
Strode’s agitation today, however, is exceptional: She’s just witnessed Myers being placed on a prison bus, and her hesitation to shoot her onetime assailant has her completely undone. “Let’s press the reset button,” says Greer’s Karen at one point, pleading for her mother to calm down. “Let’s have a do-over.”
Given the situation, her request seems perfectly reasonable. But Greer’s dialogue can also be interpreted as a wink to the film’s audience. Why? Because this is a direct sequel to Carpenter’s original film, and it operates as if the events depicted in the nine subsequent franchise entries never happened. And this cleaning of the slate isn’t the only element of the new movie that has caused eyebrows to raise among horror fans. Halloween is directed and co-written by David Gordon Green (George Washington, The Sitter), whose résumé, while eclectic, does not include anything resembling a horror movie. Even more curious, Green co-wrote the script with Danny McBride, a friend of the filmmaker’s from their days at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. McBride is best known for his comedic performances on the envelope-pushing HBO sitcoms Eastbound & Down and Vice Principals, shows on which Green was a frequent director. So, is this new iteration of the franchise less “The night he came home” — the tagline for the original film — and more “The night he got high and told a bunch of off-color jokes”?
Green insists Halloween lovers need not worry. “We’re really trying to honor Carpenter’s vision,” says the filmmaker. “Danny said a really smart thing: ‘Until there’s killings, there’s no jokes. Let’s not give anybody anything to laugh at until we’ve scared them s—less.’”
Over the past eight months EW has stalked Curtis and the rest of the Halloween crew — though hopefully in a much less threatening manner than Michael Myers tracks Laurie Strode. The result is a story which includes interviews with Curtis, Green, McBride, Carpenter, and Nick Castle, who once again makes an appearance as Myers in the new film, 40 years after playing the slasher icon in the original movie. So, grab your copy of the new EW, settle down with your favorite pumpkin-flavored brew, and read all about how one of horror’s most beloved franchises came back from the dead. In our not-so-humble opinion, it’s a killer read!