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Hal MacDermot [Film Festival 08.25.09] movie interview horror

And once again our LA wunderkind, Hal MacDermot, comes through with brief interviews, roundtable style, with both Rob Zombie and the McDowell after watching H2. I'm sure you want to know whether the film is any good, and so do we, but unfortunately we're not allowed to review what we saw just yet. We will have a review later this week, and if you think it's odd QE is covering Halloween, well, it's because it kind of is. We didn't cover Zombie's first part, but after I saw it I was in love. So that's why we're covering it now..

Enjoy the "brief interlude" below the break!

Rob Zombie

Was there ever a point writing the script where you thought that maybe Laurie was killing everyone and Michael was all in her head?

I never thought that. My manager who is one of the producers said that he thought that was where it was going when he was reading the script, but I thought, the things that we’ve seen Michael do as this 6’ 9” beast would be impossible with a 5’4” ninety pound girl.

Is Laurie turning into Michael at the end?

I just think that at the end she’s going crazy. You know, her family’s crazy and now she’s crazy. I think it’s in her blood. I mean she’s certainly gone through enough to make her crazy, but it’s kind of like in the first movie where Michael had a crappy childhood, but I never thought that his childhood is why he is the way he is. He could have grown up in a nice family, he’d still be insane, he’s just psychotic and she’s psychotic too.

Do you have plans for a third Halloween movie?

I have no plans for a third. Only now because everything’s so sequel crazy does this ending seems like it sets up the next one, but to me it seems like a good ending. To me, he’s dead, but I don’t own the franchise. Somebody will probably reenergize him. And third ones always suck. The first one it is what it is, the second one always seems to be the best one, and the third one is always a disaster.

The studio wanted a really quick turnaround, right?

It was crazy. We didn’t even start shooting until February. It was ridiculously fast.

Did you like actors to stick to the script, or are you comfortable with your actors ad-libbing?

I never want anyone to stick word for word unless it’s important information that needs to be properly relayed. You want people to take the words and spit them back out in a way that seems natural. There really isn’t that much ad-libbing going on. I shoot it in kind of a loose way so I want it to seem as if people are ad-libbing and I want it to seem loose, but it’s really not.

Could you talk about the genesis of the hospital scene? Is that a nod to the original Halloween II with Jamie Lee Curtis?

No, it’s funny, it never crossed my mind. I can’t really remember the original Halloween II. I remember that it took place in a hospital. But I just wanted to have a hospital scene, because we pick it up right after in the story, Laurie’s a mess, they rush her to the hospital. I thought a good way to mess with it was make it a dream. It wasn’t meant to be some homage.

The look of Halloween II is very different from the first one.

Well I was kinda disappointed with the look of the first one, I didn’t like it, I thought it looked too clean and it really bothered me. I like when movies look kinda dirty. I actually spent a lot of time in post trying to make it look dirtier. So this film I went back and shot it on 16mm instead of 35mm because I wanted it to look really grainy and gritty, and more real, so that when something was dirty it felt dirty. I got a different DP who works differently, we lit things with really low light, and would light the set 360 and I would shoot any direction I wanted and almost never ever moved a light, so if someone walked into the shadows, well there in the shadows, not like when everybody seems to be fully lit no matter what, and at night we would hardly light anything.

Can you talk about the SFX?

Stuff like in the hospital when they’re operating on Laurie, all the EMTs and the nurses and doctors are all real. There was one actress who’s playing a doctor, who has all the dialogue, but the guy who’s doing all the stitching is a real doctor, because we couldn’t teach an actor to stitch that close to someone’s skin. We tried to keep it real at all times. Whenever anything blood was going on we always had technicians standing by so it didn’t seem like a crazy gore movie.

How about the Loomis character? He seems to have changed since Halloween I.

The Loomis character kind of came out of my relationship with Malcolm. The thing I always loved about Malcolm as a fan was that he could play characters that were just real assholes and you still love him, and I thought that’s perfect for Dr. Loomis, I thought let’s not even make him a nice guy, let’s make him a big sell out who’s trying to cash in. All the girls are scarred but somehow he’s miraculously unharmed. Because I thought that’s kind of the reality of things. You have the Manson murders, you have the families dealing with it and you have Vincent Bugliosi who becomes a star, puts out bestselling books, they make TV movies from the books and still 40 years later if they’re doing anything on the Manson story, he’s the first person on Dateline NBC being interviewed.

What’s the status with Tyrannosaurus Rex?

I mean there’s no real status at the moment. It’s kind of on hold. For me it’s too hard to set up one movie when I’m finishing another, it drives me crazy. Hopefully that’s the next movie, but I don’t know, something else could pop up out of nowhere.

Malcolm McDowell

Loomis has special feelings for journalists in this movie, doesn't he?

That’s right. I love the relationship between Loomis and the PR lady, she was brilliant. I just thought it time to bring a little comedy into Halloween. Also, I didn’t want to play Loomis like I played him before, I mean why bother, so I made up another character, just to really F*** with all the aficionados of the Halloween series. I knew that Rob would do his dark, violent thing, so it’s fun that Loomis is always in a Limo, and he’s living the high life.

Did the Loomis character come from you or from Rob?

Somewhere between both of us. Well I have to say most of it was improvised.

Two years have passed in story terms between Halloween I and II. Did you work out specifically what’s happened in Loomis’s life during that time?

Nah. I’m an English actor. Learn your lines, get on, do it. I mean it’s really not rocket science. Acting is so stupid and so easy. I’ve been doing it so long, really the main thing is to have some fun. Keep it light, have some fun, and move on, that’s been my philosophy in my career.

How was working with Rob Zombie?

I loved working with Rob. A really great guy, very talented. He’s got some really wonderful movies in him. I mean really he’s at the beginning of his career in terms of a director. He’s done a lot of horror movies and it’s time to move on. I’d do any film with him, he’s great. He’s got the talent to do whatever he wants to do.

What scares you?

I’m not so into horror films. I like psychological movies that scare me. Like the Manchurian Candidate, the original one. Clockwork Orange is another one, there’s no blood or gore in it.

What was Loomis’s motivation in publishing his book?

He’s a doctor and not a very good one. He’s had one patient for 17 years who breaks out and kills half the town. How good of a doctor can he be? You know, of course he’s in love with what most Americans are in love with “celebrity” and that’s one thing that I thought would be amusing, to have this doctor who is of course an ego maniac. Have you ever met a doctor that wasn’t? I thought it would be fun to play on that. I didn’t want to play the same character that I had in the other. If that’s confusing, then good. That’s good. I don’t think people want to see the same old thing regurgitated up again. Now, obviously some do, people that really love Halloween, they think there are certain parameters you shouldn’t cross. But rules are there to be broken. I thought it would be fun to make him a total asshole, because in this particular script, it needed some light moments. He’s such an a**hole that you can laugh at him.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve just finished Entourage, the last two of the season, and they’re very good. Wonderful scenes. I think I’m gonna be back in the next season too. I’ve done five movies this year. The first one was called A Pound of Flesh, which was an interesting script. It’s about a college professor of English literature, of Shakespeare, who sets up an escort agency in the college, to help the girls pay for their scholarships. It’s actually based on a true story. I did the Book of Eli. They finally got some money to shoot Golf in the Kingdom, Michael Murphy’s famous book.

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