Just when you thought Rob Zombie’s The Munsters would be the most divisive movie of the year, Halloween Ends came along to dominate the discourse. Given the contentious reaction among fans, I was eager to hear the audio commentary that accompanies the film on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD – which is now available online and at all major retailers.
Here are 10 things I learned from the track, which features director/co-writer David Gordon Green, actors Andi Matichak and Rohan Campbell, co-producer/first assistant director Atilla Salih Yücer, and production assistant (a rarity in special features!) Hugo Garza.
1. Green wanted to pay homage to John Carpenter’s body of work
Corey watching John Carpenter’s The Thing while babysitting is an obvious reference to the first Halloween, in which Laurie watches the original The Thing from Another World while babysitting, but Green also included it in an effort to bring more of Carpenter’s body of work beyond the Halloween franchise into the mix.
“This film was not just a sequel to a John Carpenter film, but in so many ways it was an homage to the tone of characters and where the natural meets the supernatural and so many of the things that I’ve loved about his movies,” he notes. “So many of his films really affected me, and I wanted this movie to feel like it was plucked from that world of inspiration.”
He equates Carpenter’s influence on Halloween Ends to the Speilberg inspiration on Stranger Things. This also explains the heavy Christine influence, although that goes unmentioned in the commentary.
2. The opening credit sequence tells a story
The opening credit sequences of Halloween 2018, Kills, and Ends each build off of the iconic jack-o-lantern title scene in the original Halloween, but they also subtly tell a story.
Green shares, “With each of the movies, we try to have some sort of theme subtly told through jack-o-lanterns. Halloween 1 it was kind of coming out a moldy pumpkin and reestablishing the title. Halloween Kills was the town of Haddonfield and all the various faces in Haddonfield coming through as different jack-o-lantern expressions.
“Then this one, it’s what’s emerging from one pumpkin to the next and various characters there, which was just kind of an abstract idea I had of ripping open a pumpkin. We’re used to seeing pumpkin guts and the innards that are disgusting and you reach into, but what if there was almost a human inner body within that last pumpkin that had no expression?”
3. The recap is included to show more Michael Myers
Conscious of the risk of keeping Michael Myers out of the first act, Green included the recap following the opening credits in an effort to sate viewer’s appetite for The Shape.
“There’s not a lot of Michael Myers for a long time in this movie, and we knew that risk that we were taking. So to be able to establish or remind the audience what he’s done, who he is, where’s come from — because not every viewer of this film is going to obsessively have watched every chapter in this franchise … I wanted to have a little bit of a kickback into that before we go into a long Michael Myers absence and just get into some character building.”
4. The hanged woman is Oscar’s mother
While Laurie mentions the “plague of grief” that has loomed over Haddonfield in the years following the events of the previous films, a woman is seen having hanged herself. That’s Holli Saperstein reprising her role as Mrs. Berlucchi, the mother of Halloween 2018’s ill-fated friend, Oscar. She first appeared in Halloween Kills, discovering her son’s body in the morgue.
Mrs. Berlucchi even wears a costume similar to the one Oscar wore when he was killed, but the connection went over most viewers’ heads. Green says, “We tried to echo his costume. It doesn’t feel like too many people have noticed that that is a continuing character that has, in her grief, committed suicide.”
5. A Rabbit in Red reference was deleted
A billboard for the Rabbit in Red Lounge — as established on a matchbook in the original Halloween — was originally featured in the film, but it was digitally replaced with an advertisement for Willy the Kid’s radio show in post-production.
Green divulges, “That was actually a post-production effect when we got into our early test screenings and people weren’t tracking where this DJ came from. In the production of it, there was a kind of provocative Rabbit in Red Lounge billboard that was a nod to the original Carpenter film, which was more of arbitrary fan service, and thought that could be some valuable real estate at setting up a character. So we went back to our concept art when we were in the edit room and then put that billboard in there to help spell it out a little bit more.”
6. Making Savannah look like Haddonfield presented challenges
The Halloween franchise takes place in the fictitious town of Haddonfield, IL, but the original film was famously filmed in Pasadena, CA, while Green’s trilogy was shot in Charleston, SC, Willmington, NC, and Savannah, GA, respectively. Much like how Carpenter had to hide palm trees in his Halloween, making Savannah look like suburban Illinois presented its own challenges.
“Savannah is one of my favorite cities in the world,” declares Green. “The hard thing about it is there’s Spanish moss everywhere, and we’re telling an Illinois story. Not only that, there’s no bridges, ’cause it’s underwater. We had to drive an hour and a half to find where our cave dwelling would happen because there’s no bridges in Savannah.” They ultimately found a location in Sylvania.
7. The actors learned their characters’ trades
Andi Matichak and Rohan Campbell were fully committed to their roles to the point where they learned their characters’ trades: Allyson as a nurse and Corey as a mechanic.
“David sent me through some nurse boot camp,” Matichak mentions. “I got to go meet a lovely lady named Tiffany at a clinic locally in Savannah, and she walked me through how to clean wounds, how to do tetanus shots, how to kind of do all the things that I needed to do.” She was also on set to ensure accuracy.
Campbell adds, “David sent me to a mechanic shop, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more like an actor in my life than when I was at a mechanic shop in Savannah, Georgia. I walked in and they were like, ‘What do you want to do?’ I was like, ‘I guess change a tire.’ And the dude’s facial expression was like, ‘How do you not know how to change a tire?'” he says with a chuckle.
8. The film had fake titles and fake script pages
As is common practice in the industry, Halloween Ends adopted a fake title to prevent non-essential people from knowing they were making a Halloween movie. Green chose The Maynard Defense Council — the name Maynard inspired by a crow on the 1970s children’s show Gigglesnort Hotel — during pre-production. It later became Cave Dweller during production.
Along with the phony name, co-writer Paul Brad Logan wrote fake script pages to audition actors for the role of Corey. As Green explains, “Paul would come up with something similar that hit the emotional triggers we needed to kind of suss out who was gonna inhabit the role of Corey. It was fun to be able to explore that, and then hand you real sides and then we do rehearsal and evolve it from there.”
9. Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker was an inspiration on the film
Green shared a list of movies with cast and crew for inspiration beyond the script to help demonstrate tone. An unexpected inclusion was Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (also known as Night Warning), a fairly obscure 1981 horror film.
The contemporary Oedipus tale served as a point of reference for the character of Corey’s mother. Black Christmas and The Last Picture Show are among the other titles referenced in the commentary.
10. Green likens making a Halloween movie to playing with Star Wars toys as a kid
While Green only addresses his controversial story/character choices indirectly, he puts it into perspective by likening making a Halloween movie to playing with Star Wars toys as a kid; injecting his own sensibilities into someone else’s characters.
“People come up to me all the time to say, ‘Is it stressful having to make a movie that appeals to all the Halloween fans?’ And you just think, ‘No, it’s amazing.’ You can’t please everybody, so you get approached by producers that say, ‘Here’s some incredible real estate. Now build your dream house.’
“And so, over three films, we’ve taken different risks and taken different story paths, and been able to do that three times — which we should be so lucky in a lifetime to be able to have those opportunities, that you have total creative freedom in a world that is so meaningful to you from childhood and the early days of my cinematic exposure.”
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