How I Would Script is a new weekly column at The Open Man by Joseph Nardone. In it, our favorite, most handsome Internet Scribbler maps out how he would recreate whatever TV show or movie that is on his mind. Have a suggestion? Hit him on Twitter @JosephNardone.
Rob Zombie tried. Some will say he failed. Others will say it was a solid, if unspectacular attempt. But the man most known for making ’90s rock band White Zombie cool-ish attempted the unthinkable: create an origin story for Michael Myers of Halloween fame.
Reboots, remakes, re-imaginings, etc., are a mixed-bag. People mostly love the idea, as nostalgia will make the heart crave even a god damn Teddy Ruxpin remake, but rare are the TV shows or films better when someone other than the creator is manning the helm.
Hot-take alert: I enjoyed Zombie’s first Halloween movie. Halloween 2: Trash, was trash. Not everyone agrees with me that the first musician’s iteration was all that and a bag of chips, though. Some will say, rightfully, that Myers’ allure was in his direct evilness and not that of Zombie’s generic serial killer backstory.
The point is that, with exceptions, horror villain origin stories are tough. Give too much and the mystery is removed. Don’t give enough and there’s no reason to be invested.
Some need proper, and occasionally in-depth backstories. Fredrick Krueger of Elm Street is a great example of this. His entire purpose is to scare kids to death (literally) in their dreams. Why? Because he was a pedophile who was burnt alive by angry townsfolk, and demons made a deal granting him supernatural powers right before his body withered away.
It was simple, short and to the point. It got people to understand who Freddy was without having to invest an entire hour into his upbringing.
Had we known nothing about the sweater loving, finger-knife wielding monster, we’d just assume it was a spin-off of whatever happened to Steve from Blue’s Clues.
Now, how a movie should be scripted is all subjective. One person might like a product, while another swears it is the worst thing since Fox Sports decided it would be wiser to have its lowly rated TV shows replace its excellent written content on Fox Sports dot com.
Nevertheless, this does not deter me from making a fool out of myself. I am, after all, a failed fiction writer (you can read my failures here). And this is where the preface of this new weekly feature stops and the journey to scripting a Halloween movie — as I believe it should be — begins.
Do Away With Most Of The Origin Story
Michael Myers is pure evil. The original Dr. Loomis claims that is all he is and that he’s never witnessed a person lacking such a soul.
In fact, it is an incredibly short monologue from the original Halloween that could serve as the only backstory to Myers.
“I met this six-year-old child with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes … the devil’s eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply… evil.” – Dr. Loomis (1978)
What else do we need? Seriously. If a man who went to college for roughly eight years already told us that the reason for Michael’s tendency to butcher the sexually inclined is due to him being a version of the devil and/or just evil, that is good enough for me.
That quote, or a version of it, is what the movie should open with. Pitch black, with Christan Slater playing Loomins, voicing his dealings with a young Michael.
Remove The Laurie Strode ANgle
Second hot-take of the column!
Listen, one of my biggest issues with every version of the Halloween franchise is the reliance upon a supposedly wicked person’s obsession with his sister. I get the idea of Myers wanting to be “home,” but for the life of me, why in the hell is he so determined to rid the world of his sister?
Born-evil-to-the-bone does not discriminate. It makes zero sense for Michael to prioritize his victims.
Furthermore, by making it a one-person hero at the start of any horror movie/franchise, it gives us a glimpse toward at least a portion of the ending of the movie as soon as the opening credits roll and we see “Actor/Actress-X’s Name” being sprawled across our picture-box.
Think about it logically: When you “know” who the main hero is of any horror movie, you fully expect them (maybe only them) to survive, right? That’s too predictable.
Let me take you back to a simpler time of the world.
It was the 1990s: A place in space and time when Justin Timberlake had a curly ‘fro and Donald Trump wasn’t even yet a reality TV star, much less occupying the White House. It is here where you will find the movie Scream — a flick that aged poorly, but was exhilarating at the time and especially through my first viewing.
What made Scream appealing to me were all the unknowns. Sure, we had a better than decent idea Neve Campbell would live, given her level of fame at the time from Party of Five and that she filled the Survivor Girl archetype.
But who did all the murdering? Who else, if anyone was going to survive?
We didn’t even get bargain big Johnny Depp’s motivation until the very end of the movie. For all of it, save for the last 10 minutes, it only appeared to be a person (or persons; no spoilers here) who liked to do the electric boogaloo with a knife and someone else’s torso.
I mean, for cripe’s sake, they killed (SPOILER!) Drew Barrymore minutes into the movie.
In the most roundabout way as humanly possible, the point here is that the Laurie Strode character makes Halloween, and Myers’ arc, too formulaic and predictable.
Change Of Setting
Screw you, Illinois. You had your chance in the serial killer sun.
Did I mention that I am a failed fiction writer? I did? Good. Because it is worth noting that a lot of fiction writers like to set their stories in or around their hometowns. So, ugh, basically, welcome to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Michael!
I actually grew up in a small town called Old Forge (still in the Keystone State). That is where my version of Halloween takes place; not because my native town is spookier than anywhere else, but there’s something about familiarity that breeds an inherent sense of horror.
It is the same reason everyone fears going to holiday ventures. The more you know about a place, any place, the less beautiful it seems. In turn, almost inherently, it makes a person feel like they know about “all the bad” that has happened in his or her hometown.
The level of “f-this place” is never any higher than any person’s “home.”
Crazy drunk uncle in the corner screaming racist comments is a horror movie onto itself? LOL, my friend. Imagine Michael Myers being that wildly inappropriate guest at Aunt Donna’s place instead.
Unfortunately, we can’t set Joseph Nardone’s Halloween in everyone’s hometown. It can only be mine. That sucks for you. Then again, if you want it in your neighborhood, write your own damn “How I’d Script” column (please don’t … that would be gimmick infringement).
For what it is worth, which is not much, Old Forge is a primarily Italian town that has (or had, I haven’t visited often) sections of the town each nicknamed in a non-PC way to describe each area’s people. The safest-ish example I can think of is in the northern most part of the town, which is called The Polish Alps.
There are other, far less okay-for-print examples.
FYI: You can also Google Old Forge to see that the town already has a pretty rich history in corruption, mysterious deaths and tragedy. Some real life history can play a role in my tinkering of Halloween, and few things are as scary as reality.
MichAel Has No Real Motivation
Why does Michael kill whoever he kills? Because he’s just evil, as Dr. Loomis will explain in the opening of the movie with the aforementioned quote/origin story in the first sub-section of this here column.
It doesn’t need to be about revenge, or family, or incest, or Michael having been done wrong. He’s simply an evil beast who DOES NOT SEE HORSES OR VISIONS OF SHERI MOON ZOMBIE.
Is There A Hero Or Heroine?
Not really. That’s the entire point of dumping Laurie Strode (she can still technically be part of my film’s universe. Laurie should either be dead to start the film or an incredibly unimportant side-character a main character visits in an attempt to know Michael).
By removing the designated hero from this flick, we are left with the mystery of who will stand last, if anyone other than Michael is standing at all.
While we’re at it, let’s be slightly more progressive in this movie. Not only are there to be numerous non-white people playing leads, but — for the love of god — let’s have some hookers, whores, and general dicks survive longer than the first murder montage.
Honestly, the idea of virgins being the only good sort of people is so 1980s. It had its place then, even if misguided, as it was the height of the HIV and Aids hysteria. It is 2017. People boink and that doesn’t automatically make them evil.
What Is The Endgame?
There is to be no sequel.
I know. I know. All creators of art say that now. Yet, when the money starts pouring in and even more is on the horizon thanks to a franchise, most artists give in to the almighty dollar.
Luckily for us, I’m a hack. No one is going to want to see my Halloween franchise take off. We have been saved from ourselves via my ineptness at storytelling.
In my version of Halloween, Michael certainly terrorizes the town on the day the movie is named after, and Dr. Loomis rears his head to help explain to the local police department the evils of Myers, but that is pretty much it. Everything else is around-the-corner horrors.
I’m also a pretty damn big fan of bad guys winning. Now, I don’t want Michael to be so counterculture that viewers are rooting for him to win as my friends and I did for Jason Vorhees in Jason X, but it wouldn’t be unwise for an unstoppable killing machine to actually go unstopped once in awhile.
That’s it. Let’s summarize my Halloween remake:
- Laurie Strode, at best, is an unimportant side-character.
- Illinois loses its rights to host Michael Myers Madness.
- The origin story is a short monologue from Dr. Loomis to start the movie.
- Michael is without motivation because true evil needs none.
- There’s no designated hero or heroine, as it adds to the suspense and unknown.
- The endgame is that Rob Zombie and I are essentially equals.