Halloween Kills director says the horror sequel is his 'childhood-dreams slasher movie'
While David Gordon Green's 2018 franchise reboot Halloween was hardly short on violence, the director's just-released Halloween Kills (out now in theaters and on Peacock) comprehensively trumps its predecessor in the mayhem department, as masked killer Michael Myers further terrifies the residents of Haddonfield, Ill.
"That wasn't necessarily the intention, but it just kept happening, and when we got to the editing room it just kept drawing us in," says Green, whose film once again stars Jamie Lee Curtis as the Myers-battling Laurie Strode. "I'm a filmmaker who's always prided himself on being very open to the moment and letting actors take the narrative where it belongs and the characters where they need to go, and here violence actually became a character in a weird way. It was seven weeks of night shoots, and it was very surreal, and I think the movie reflects that almost abstract portrait of violence."
Here, Green talks more about the film, the return of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Kyle Richards to the franchise, and why this movie gave him license to "kick in the door of the toy closet and smash everything inside."
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did you approach Halloween Kills differently than you did the 2018 Halloween?
DAVID GORDON GREEN: It's weird because I was less nervous conceptually, but I had more to prove to myself. For the first film [there] was a lot of strategy of how to invite the hardcore fans of the original Halloween, but not exclude people who didn't know that film and weren't so fascinated by the franchise for the last 40 years. I wanted a movie they could enjoy equally. I felt like I needed to establish some sort of legitimacy in our narrative and a reconnection with Michael Myers and Laurie Strode. After the success of that film, this was just a chance for me to make my childhood-dreams slasher movie. We were really just activating all the adrenalin, ambition, frustration, depression, excitement, and celebration that I had in my youth watching movies like this. The anarchy of it all was pretty satisfying.
Your first Halloween movie really could have stood alone as its own film, whereas the end of this movie sets up the mayhem that will presumably happen in the upcoming Halloween Ends.
Well, the first film needed to exist on its own because if the audience had not reacted so favorably to it, we might not have gotten another shot at it, so in my mind it needed to feel complete. But then when we knew we had two more pictures, the responsibility of resolve and completion wasn't on us at all. Kills just got to be the disruption of kicking in the door of the toy closet and smashing everything inside it. Turning the town of Haddonfield upside down didn't need to have a conclusive element to it because we know we're going to get there eventually.
You've got some legacy cast members returning after a long spell away from the franchise, including Kyle Richards, who is reprising her role of Lindsey Wallace from John Carpenter's original 1978 Halloween. She told me that she half-bullied your co-writer Danny McBride on the red carpet of your first Halloween film to get in the second.
That's totally true!
What was she like to work with?
She was fun. In the '78 film, you see that moment with her and Tommy upstairs in the hallway after their confrontation with Michel Myers, and Laurie is pleading with them to get out of the house and go get help, and she's their protector. So it was cool to be able to take that character full circle to a sequence we have on the playground where she has a very similar, protective moment with kids on a playground. It was fun to be able to see her role reversal, her maturity as a character. I'm not sure we've seen the last of Kyle Richards in our franchise.
Are you a Real Housewives fan?
Honestly, I had never watched it until I met her. We didn't know what we were getting into. Everybody was kind of sniffing each other out. You know, Charles Cyphers [who played a cop in the original movie and reprises his role in Halloween Kills] had retired, and Kyle is on a reality show. I'm just trying to find the right tools and toys and make a fun movie. I sat down with her at a coffee shop in Beverly Hills, and it was very funny because [of] how recognized she is in a world I don't necessarily inhabit. But her charisma is immediate, and her talent is extraordinary, and we hit it off right away. I immediately got inspired to go write more for her.
You mentioned Charles Cyphers. Was he surprised to get the call from you?
I think so. We did a Zoom. I was just checking in on him and seeing if we could tempt him to come back as Brackett. He was living peacefully in New Mexico without a lot of professional ambition. I think he probably got a kick out of the call, and we had a great time on set together.
I think Anthony Michael Hall does a great job as Tommy Doyle in the movie, but did you reach out to either Brian Andrews, who played Tommy in the 1978 film, or Paul Rudd, who portrayed the character in 1995's Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, about possibly playing that role?
As you can imagine, we investigated all possibilities. Paul's a good friend of mine, and we'd done a movie together [2013's Prince Avalanche] and had a good time working together. He was in the middle of the new Ghostbusters movie, which I can't wait to see. I just felt like Anthony had the right essence of nostalgia. I am particularly fond of movies like Out of Bounds and Johnny Be Good — certainly the John Hughes movies as well, but I have some of his other films [like] Into the Sun that I really like.
I'm referencing movies that have a bit more testosterone to them than when he was in Vacation, [1983's National Lampoon's Vacation], which I also love for different reasons. We were looking specifically for that intensity. But it was fun to work with him and get stories from his career. He inhabited what I was looking for in Tommy — the way he's processed his trauma from 1978 is that there's steam emanating from his head. He's ready to end this. If we met Tommy Doyle as a kid in an astronaut suit cowering in a corner, here he has risen with a baseball bat and he's ready to take down Michael Myers.
Jamie Lee Curtis was talking to me about how your first Halloween movie caught something in the air ahead of #MeToo and how this film, which was supposed to be released last year, features the kind of mob violence we saw at the Capitol insurrection. What do you think about that?
Yeah, it is weird how those two films have preceded events that felt familiar. I don't know what to say to that. I think when Danny McBride, Scott Teems, and I were writing this, we were aware of the world around us and some things less obvious than the headlines in our own culture and community and society. I think there are probably things our radars are picking up on creatively that our conscious lives are not. Because if you were to ask us what movie we want to write, we want to write a wild slasher movie that reminds us of the wild slasher s--- we grew up with in the '80s. So the fact that there is a timing and a concept that lands relevant to culture and movements just makes it more interesting and fascinating.
When you look at the subversive science fiction writing and genre writing over the last few decades, where people can get in messages and political points of view, I think we fall into that arena somewhat, although we stumbled into it entirely unconsciously.
Halloween Kills is in theaters and streaming on Peacock now. Watch the trailer for it above.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free daily newsletter to get breaking TV news, exclusive first looks, recaps, reviews, interviews with your favorite stars, and more.