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In the 10/15/2021 edition:

[Interview] The Cast & Crew of ‘HALLOWEEN KILLS’ Slay All Day

By Courtney Howard on Oct 14, 2021 06:01 pm

Courtney Howard // Film Critic

Michael Meyers is back in HALLOWEEN KILLS – and has a stronger bloodlust than ever before. He may have been left for sure death in a raging house fire set ablaze by Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). Howevere, he miraculously survives, slaughtering his way through firemen and a slew of Haddonfield citizens (some of whom are returning characters to the franchise) in his evil dogged pursuit of survivor Laurie.

At the sequel’s recent virtual press day, producer Malek Akkad says it wasn’t exactly  easier to produce a sequel after the first film was such a success as it was just a challenge to making any film.

“There’s definitely the pressure to succeed with the fans, box office and reactions. But, in the producer’s point of view, it’s about the same: got to get the script, break it down. So you’re focus is that. You do your best with the best chefs and crews to make this stew. It’s more matter-of-fact, ‘Let’s get it done.’”

Franchise steward/ returning director David Gordon Green says the narrative was continually changing and evolving.

“We do so many drafts, we don’t even call them drafts. We’re always writing and evolving even on set. Danny McBride, Scott Teems and I tag teamed this one. We were all working together to figure out what the proper evolution of these characters was. We have great consultation of John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis – even Nick Castle. He reads the script and gives us notes. It’s a really fun evolution.

Where it began was a collage of ideas and characters I wanted to play with and people, concepts and themes we wanted to explore. Where it ended up, takes us on its own life in the writing process and then again in the production process and then it’s born for the last time, and finally, in the editing. It’s constantly changing.”

Curtis was drawn in by the maturation of her character.

“These movies have evolved as I have evolved as a human being and Laurie Strode has evolved from an innocent to a victim of terrible violence. She got no mental health and bounced around like a pinball in her small town.”

She astutely observes the film’s themes as something that give voice and cinematically chronical and contextualize our moment in time.

“HALLOWEEN KILLS is about the collateral damage that Laurie Strode suffered. It certainly passed on to her daughter and granddaughter, but also to the whole town, to all of the survivors. It’s a movie series that’s connected to the sign of the times. 2018 was about female trauma and violence against women and 2021’s movie is about a mob violence – a group of people – coming together to say ‘We are mad as Hell and not taking it anymore. The system is broken and taking matters into our own hands.’ And the collision Michael Meyers has transcended. The overarching story may have chaos and maelstrom, and yet, at the center of it, are these three women and female empowerment – the passing of the torch from warrior to warrior.”

Judy Greer, Jamie Lee Curtis and Andi Matichak in Halloween Kills. Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

We’re also starting to see Matichak’s character tap into her power as fighter – one who laid dormant until Meyers’ awakens it. Matichak sees the connection between the two strong female characters.

“Allyson and Laurie are quite similar and the more Allyson comes into herself, she sees herself in her grandmother. That’s why she has to pick up the torch and when she does, she has to go for it the way Laurie would. That’s where her bravery comes from in this movie.”

Curtis concurs.

“I do think [the warrior gene] is a generation skipping woman. I don’t think Karen is a warrior. She’s the opposite. Allyson is Laurie. She becomes Laurie.”

Affable actor Anthony Michael Hall was eager to play returning character Tommy Doyle and was up for the challenge.

“I just dove in. I had such adrenaline to start the project. I screen tested with David and revved myself up and tried to make it real for myself. Even though there’s so much make believe, there was so much excitement, personally, because I knew I was plugging into this great family of cool artists that imparted this franchise. We had a great, fearless leader, David Gordon Green. He’s very fluid in his process. He draws upon any inspiration from any department and anybody on set. Seeing him work with that humility and intelligence, that was inspiring too.”

Actress Kyle Richards, who returns to the role she originated in 1978’s HALLOWEEN, was up for the hefty physical demands, which include facing off against the intimidating killer.

“For me, I’m a very physically active person. I’m always hiking, skiing, cycling. It was a very good thing I was physically fit. I was really looking forward to my scene with Michael Meyers. That was the most exciting part. I was waiting for my moment. The little down time I had, because we were doing night shoot, I would go to the gym nearby. If she’s gonna have the courage to take him on, she’s got to be physically fit.”

Green says that he’s sure HALLOWEEN ENDS will also morph and mature, not solely during shooting, but also in the edit bay.

“As much as I’m confident in the script of HALLOWEEN 3, which we’re going to get into the production of shortly, I feel confident it will evolve in unexpected ways.”

HALLOWEEN KILLS opens in theaters and begins streaming on Peacock on October 15.

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Breaking into ‘WELCOME TO THE BLUMHOUSE’ with producer Jason Blum

By Preston Barta on Oct 14, 2021 01:24 pm
BINGO HELL Photo: BRIAN ROEDEL © 2021 Amazon Content Services LLC

Preston Barta // Features Editor

Blumhouse Television and Amazon served up four creep-tastic horror flicks last year under the banner Welcome to the Blumhouse. Now streamer fiends can soak up another quartet of terrors from the house that Jason Blum built. These new standalone scare-features – “Bingo Hell,” “Black as Night,” “Madres” and “The Manor” – are a diverse collection of the most interesting, emerging voices in contemporary horror. Whether it’s exploring themes such as gentrification through a bingo hall connected to the netherworld or the fear of change and death within a nursing home, there’s something to mine from each work.

Fresh Fiction had the opportunity to chat with horror mega-producer Jason Blum via Zoom. We talked about the possibility of Welcome to the Blumhouse returning, what separates these titles from others under the Blumhouse name, and revealing or not revealing secrets in movie trailers.

“I hope to make [‘Welcome to the Blumhouse’] an October tradition.”

– Jason Blum


The following is a transcript of an interview conducted on September 27. Some of the questions and answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.

This marks the second year of Welcome to the Blumhouse features. Do you plan to do a new event each year, and will you stay on track with new and emerging filmmakers?

Jason Blum: “I’m very proud of [working with new, emerging talents]. It makes for stories we wouldn’t have expected. These last four movies are about people who are marginalized in some way or another. I don’t think that would’ve happened if it hadn’t been for working with underrepresented filmmakers. So, thank you for the second half of your question. The first half of your question is, there’s no official plans to extend the series, but I can’t see why we wouldn’t. It’s worked out great for Blumhouse. I think Amazon has been very happy about the performance of the movies, and I hope to make it an October tradition.”

What do you look for in a Welcome to the Blumhouse movie that might differ from a theatrical release or even an Into the Dark production (a horror movie anthology series on Hulu tied to seasons of the year)?

“It’s cool because you can look for the parameters. The lane is much wider for streaming movies. A theatrical movie, they have to check certain boxes to be marketed and played theatrically. There are even fewer boxes now coming out of the pandemic, I hope. Knock on my head. So, we can be more playful with what we choose. And one of the reasons I’d like to continue this series – going back to the first question – is we see a lot of scripts on the movie side of the company that we love, but we don’t have the opportunity to make. And the Welcome to the Blumhouse partnership with Amazon has given us a venue to make these movies.”

“Horror comedy, for instance, is an example. It just doesn’t work theatrically, almost ever. Edgar Wright can pull it off sometimes, maybe, but no one else seems to be able to do it, but it works great for streaming. And in two of the four movies, there’s a lot of funny things in them. So, it allows us to get behind movies that are more different and left of center than we can in our theatrical business.”

Barbara Hershey and Nicholas Alexander star in THE MANOR Photo KEVIN ESTRADA © 2021 Amazon Content Services LLC

What new perspectives have these alternate worlds explored in these films given you?

“I think we all learn and grow from understanding other people’s experiences in the world. [For instance, ‘The Manor’ and ‘Bingo Hell’], those are experiences I haven’t had. I’m not old yet. I’m getting close, but I’m not there yet. I’m not retired or living in a home. So, when you see stories about people that are having those experiences, I think it makes you more empathetic and better-rounded people, better citizens of the world as a result.”

What in horror turns you off? What are some of the things that you’d see or hear in a pitch or a script that would make you say that’s not for me, that’s not for Blumhouse?

“Anything about a pandemic turns me off. I’ve been living through a pandemic. I don’t want to make a movie about the pandemic. And then, anything that really feels like it’s already been done. Someone says, ‘I have the new Get Out.’ When people reference our movies to us, that’s not a good way to go. I’ve built the company on trying not to repeat what we’ve done before. I’m not always successful. Some of our movies feel like the movies in the past, but I try to do new things. So, I would say that I don’t want to make this the new Friday the 13th. They already made Friday the 13th. I’ll try not to repeat it if I can help it.”

Lastly, in a world where social media has such a strong connection to the movie industry, and from a producer’s standpoint, information, at times, seems to spread like wildfire. For example, do you believe there’s a limit to how much footage should be shown within movie trailers? And do you think that modern audiences demand it?

“I’m glad you asked that question. I do not. I differ from my dear, dear brothers and sisters, my directors. I think that it is extraordinarily difficult to break through with anything, with a movie or a show, Welcome to the Blumhouse. It’s just very, very hard to get people there. People have so many choices now. It’s very hard to get them to focus on what you want them to focus on. And I think the only way to do that is to show the best parts of your movie or your show. And the directors always say, ‘Well, the audience gets mad with it.’”

“You know what? Very rarely do you come out like, ‘God, I would’ve enjoyed the movie if there was less in the trailer,’ or not see the movie because of the trailer. Now we get complaints about it all the time. People are always mad at us for doing it, but I’d rather people complained and saw my movie than didn’t see the film. I really think that’s the choice. That’s my feeling. But in the filmmaking community, that makes me deeply unpopular.”

All four new Welcome to the Blumhouse films are now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

Preston’s personal fave: “The Manor” because Barbara Hershey gives a killer-good performance and plays the whole “I’m not crazy, and everyone else is” very well. The ending is also something very unexpected. We’ve seen stories like this before, like Blumhouse TV’s “The Current Occupant” under the Into the Dark moniker. However, things are twisted just enough in a new direction (with the ending and Hershey’s character’s “screw this” attitude) to give this entry the most weight.

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