The residents of Haddonfield paraded Michael Myers’ corpse through the streets at the end of Halloween Ends, giving the villain his most definitive send-off yet. Then again, the William Shatner-esque killer always finds a way back from the dead, and Hollywood isn’t willing to let him rest in peace. Now, Bloody Disgusting is reporting that Miramax is auctioning the rights for the Halloween franchise, and several parties are reportedly interested in acquiring them.
What’s more, Miramax is open to both film and television projects set in the Halloween universe, so nothing is off the table. Theoretically, this means that the eventual project could be another cinematic reboot, retconned sequel, or even a television series. It’s too early to tell what’s going to happen, but there’s movement in Tinseltown.
Of course, there is also a section of horror aficionados who will understandably balk at the idea of Hollywood’s next attempt to milk this popular horror franchise. Why can’t there be more original projects? Do we really need more Halloween films so soon after the last outing? These are valid questions, especially after the middling response to David Gordon Green’s recent trilogy.
But ponder this: what if there’s a way to reboot the bloody thing in a manner that’s both refreshing and in line with Debra Hill’s and John Carpenter’s vision for the franchise they created? Granted, this would also mean putting the Myers character to bed for a while, but he deserves a break after slashing his way through countless hapless victims for over 40 years. With that in mind, let’s have a quick history lesson and rejog our memories about the franchise’s brief foray into more imaginative terrains.
Halloween II, released in 1981, was supposed to be Michael Myers’ last hurrah on the screen. He was dead as far as Carpenter and Hill were concerned, and they wanted to shift the franchise’s focus towards standalone stories, with the shared theme being a Halloween setting. They envisioned the film series becoming the cinematic equivalent of The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery — anthologies that told a variety of stories and weren’t dependent on any particular character.
The experiment lasted for one film, the Tommy Lee Wallace-directed Halloween III: Season of the Witch, which had writing contributions from the legendary Nigel Kneale (who distanced himself from the film after other cooks entered the kitchen). The third instalment swaps slashing for witchcraft and sci-fi to tell a gloriously gonzo story about a maniacal mask maker who wants to brainwash the children of America. It’s nothing like the other movies — and that’s a good thing.
Unfortunately, audiences just weren’t willing to accept a Halloween movie without its star serial killer. “I thought, stupidly — this shows you how dumb I am — I thought that we were done with telling stories about Michael Myers and the guy in the mask. I thought there’s not much more to say,” Carpenter told The Hollywood Reporter in 2017. “So we thought we’d come up with a new story every year. We could call it Halloween, but it didn’t have to do anything with Michael Myers.”
Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a high-concept sci-fi horror that captures the spirit of the spooky season with aplomb. While Kneale distanced himself from the film, his folk horror sprinklings are still present and accounted for. And while it’d have been something special to see an untainted adaptation of his screenplay, the decision to add killer androids and other wacky shenanigans doesn’t hurt the film by any means. Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a hoot, and it posits some interesting questions about the horrifying power of technology.
Of course, all great horror films are elevated when the villain is memorable, and Halloween III: Season of the Witch just so happens to feature a great antagonist. Our mad toymaker, Conal Cochran (Dan O’Herlihy), might not be the silent manifestation of evil like The Shape, but he’s an admirable madman with an ambitious plan to achieve world domination.
Even Carpenter is a fan of the third Halloween film. “I thought Halloween III was excellent,” he said in an interview, by way of Syfy Wire. “I really liked that film because it’s different [and] it has a real nice feel to it.” In other interviews, he’s been open about wishing it performed better at the box office so that the franchise could continue experimenting and branching out.
More than anything, Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a teaser of the originality this franchise could have produced if it stuck with the plan and resisted the allure to keep bringing back Myers for hit-or-miss sequels and Rob Zombie’s divisive redos. There’s always fun to be had watching Myers lose the plot, but there’s a strong case to be made that his continual resurrections have diminished the creative potential of the Halloween franchise as a whole. Fortunately, it isn’t too late to make it interesting again.
These days, Halloween III: Season of the Witch has gained more appraisal, which begs the question: are audiences now more open to the idea of a Halloween movie without Michael Myers? Could contemporary viewers get behind the anthology proposition now that they’ve had a healthy fill of The Shape’s stab-happy crusades? It’s certainly worth trying and finding out for sure.
By turning the franchise into an anthology series, an opportunity to create fresh horror icons and explore the genre in all its various forms presents itself. There is more room to experiment and tell the types of non-Myers stories Carpenter himself is interested in seeing. That’s not to say that The Shape should stay gone for good, mind you, but let’s see a few films or seasons of a TV show without him. Otherwise, this franchise risks becoming stale.