Director: Rob Zombie
Writer: Rob Zombie
Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Scout Taylor-Compton, Tyler Mane, Brad Dourif
There is an unwritten law in the horror genre that if a movie is a success then a sequel is almost guaranteed, no matter how illogical a continuation may seem. And the biggest offender in this respect is the slasher. Whatever you throw at them, a good maniac will come back again and again to thrill and excite audiences. Jason Voorhees was sent to Hell, Freddy Krueger was blown to pieces and Michael Myers even had his head chopped off, but once the dollars start rolling in you can be sure that those producers will find some ingenious way to justify the killer living on. The final moments of Rob Zombie’s Halloween saw Laurie Strode, beat and broken, placing a gun to Michael’s face and then repeatedly pulling the trigger, bringing the night he came home to an end. But $79m has a way of bringing the dead back to life and before long news broke that Dimension were planning a new feature. Is Michael still alive? Will Rob Zombie return? What happened to Loomis? Forums everywhere quickly filled with frantic questions from fans, eager to know what to expect next. Whilst Halloween 2, released back in 1981, may have been inferior to John Carpenter’s undisputed classic, it was a worth continuation that still rose high above most of its contemporaries. Almost twenty years later, Zombie faces a similar challenge.
Rumours began to circulate as early as February 2008, barely six months after the release of Halloween, that a sequel was in the works. The first movie had been all over websites and magazine covers for over a year so it came as no surprise that the studio would want to produce a follow up. By June, French duo Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, who had been responsible for the much-anticipated Inside, and at one time attached to Dimension‘s Hellraiser remake, were in talks to bring back Michael, and began developing a screenplay with the intention of co-directing. Talk began regarding the future of the franchise, as it was believed that the studio were planning on releasing the subsequent instalments straight-to-DVD, though the success of the first sequel could convince them otherwise. Eventually, Bustillo and Maury left the project, leaving the director’s chair free once again. Zombie, meanwhile, who had been asked to return as producer, had been concentrating on various projects, from his animated feature The Haunted World of El Superbeasto to Tyrannosaurus Rex, a loose adaptation of his own comic, The Nail (which he had created alongside 30 Days of Night‘s Steve Niles), which told of a wrestler on the run from a vicious gang of bikers.
By December, it had been announced that Zombie was back on board the franchise as both writer and director of what would be referred to through pre-production as H2 (in an effort to avoid comparisons to the original sequel). But the realities soon made themselves known, as the studio had immediately set an August 2009 release date, meaning that Zombie would have a mere eight months to write, prep, shoot and edit the movie. Despite the news going public, actress Scout Taylor-Compton, who had played Laurie Strode in the 2007 film, denied the story, stating that she had not been informed of any sequel. Principal photography was announced to start in March, allowing the director almost three months to cast the film, which would once again feature an array of familiar faces. Zombie also stated that his sequel would not resemble Rick Rosenthal’s Halloween 2. Teaser art began to surface online even before the script had been completed, whilst fans speculated as to whether Tyler Mane (Michael Myers), Malcolm McDowell (Dr. Loomis) or Taylor-Compton would return. Other names unofficially attached included Daeg Faerch and Sheri Moon Zombie, who would once again play the young Michael and his mother, Deborah, respectively.
On December 21, Zombie posted a blog on his MySpace page claiming that Laurie would in fact be returning to Haddonfield, whilst other sources had stated that the sequel would pick up immediately after the events of the previous film, much like Halloween 2 had. A casting call began days before the new year, which would release character details and requirements that the filmmakers had regarding who they would consider for each role. It was assumed that once again production would take place in and around Los Angeles, though soon Georgia became a more likely location. By January, the only confirmed cast member was Mane, despite Zombie’s script focusing heavily on Laurie’s situation after the ordeal, where she would be taken to the local hospital, Haddonfield Memorial. But whereas Halloween 2 had based most of its action in a hospital, it seems that only a portion of the film will take place here, as various other locations include a Halloween party and various scenes throughout the town. The next name to be linked to the project was Danielle Harris, a fan favourite from her involvement in Halloween 4 and 5, and had co-starred as the doomed Annie Brackett in Zombie’s first movie. Despite fans assuming that she had died from her severe stab wounds, it seems that the character will indeed return, but details at present remain minimal. Perhaps she will appear as another patient or the hospital, or in one of the various flashbacks that will litter the film (along with shots of Michael’s mother).
More names were soon announced for minor roles, including The Hills Have Eyes‘ Ezra Buzzington (whose scene had been cut from the last movie) as Ned Atkins, described in the casting breakdown as a ‘slow, tired man, who works as a beer delivery man. As he is making a routine stop, he discovers the bodies of 3 people who were brutally murdered and then ghoulishly displayed. As he calls 911, his throat is slashed by the same killer. Three scenes.’ Regular Zombie composer once again returns to perform his usual duties, blending an original score with references to Carpenter’s classic tune. In between the filming of the two movie, Bates had enjoyed a successful run of high profile flicks such as Day of the Dead, The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Watchmen, as well as David Duchovny’s popular show Californication. The next actor to be hired was Jeff Daniel Phillips, who will portray Rabbit in Red bouncer Howard Boggs, a role which the filmmakers were insistent on casting straight away. On January 13, Zombie not only revealed the inclusion of Mark Christopher Lawrence and Daniel Roebuck but the rumours of Harris’ involvement were finally made official.
Two weeks later, the director revealed more about Laurie’s place in the story, although neither Taylor-Compton nor any other actress had been cast in the role. After seemingly killing Michael, she is rushed off to the nearby hospital where she has become a recognisable face and an emotional wreck. When she wakes up the following morning, she discovers that everyone she loves has died and that the maniac responsible was in fact her long lost brother. Pre-production finished on February 19, with the shoot starting the following day in various locations around Georgia including Atlanta, Covington, Decatur and Madison. Budgeted at approximately $18m, H2 is expected to feature several exciting an elaborate set pieces and a hospital that features more patients than the suspiciously abandoned one from Halloween 2. Further additions to the cast during filming included Dayton Callie, Matt Bush and Howard Hesseman as Uncle Meat. Despite Zombie keeping the majority of the plot under wraps, the casting breakdown did reveal a few minor details. For the character of Sarah Lyons, one of Sheriff Brackett’s deputies, the filmmakers were searching for an actress who was comfortable with special effects as the the part would require having their throat slashed by Michael. Others include Wolfie, who would be brutally murdered and beheaded, Harley, which requires an actress who is ‘comfortable with head and face casting for special effects’ and Ted Adams, who is stabbed and then has his skin removed. Interestingly, Harley is the only one to appear on the list of characters on IMDb.
Malcolm McDowell had initially signed on for three Halloween movies, yet his casting on H2 was not made official until Valentine’s Day, whilst Taylor-Compton would not be announced until February 27. One casting decision to anger fans was over Faerch, who had returned as the young Michael Myers and had been present on the set, only for Zombie to replace him after deciding that the young actor, who now stood taller than his screen mother, Sheri Moon Zombie, was no longer a child and was too tall and old to play the character again. He was eventually replaced by newcomer Chase Wright Vanek, whilst Dimension still held the likeness rights to Faerch and had considered digitally placing his face over that of his successor. During the first week of shooting, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2‘s Caroline Williams was added to the supporting cast, which would also feature Black Christmas‘ Margot Kidder. Perhaps the most bizarre addition to the cast is cult singer/comedian Weird Al Yankovic, as a guest on a fictional talk show entitled The Newman Hour, which will also feature Dr. Loomis promoting his new book, The Devil Walks Among Us (rumoured to be in the running as the movie’s title).
Another fictitious television broadcast that will appear throughout the movie will be cable access freak Uncle Coffins’ Creature Double-Feature, which had originally been written for Bill Moseley (who had co-starred alongside Caroline Williams in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) but unfortunately he had to back down due to prior commitments. It was announced today that Dimension will be uploading the official trailer onto YouTube this Friday, following on from the recent teaser. Fans expectations are high as this is surely make-or-break time for Michael Myers. If H2 is a success then this could be a brand new franchise for the masked maniac, but if it flops or is a critical failure then Dimension may give up the ghost and leave him dead and buried for good. H2: Halloween 2 will be released in the US on August 28 2009.