Rob Zombie was known throughout the ’90s as the frontman for rock band White Zombie, but by the 2000s he had reinvented himself as a horror director. His first two movies, House of 1000 Corpses (2003) and The Devil’s Rejects (2005) won fans with their mix of grueling B-movie-inspired horror, over-the-top gore, gaudy visuals, and dark humor. His love of the genre was clear and, in particular, his affection for the groundbreaking movies that emerged in the 1970s. So it wasn’t surprising when in 2006 he was announced as the director of a remake of John Carpenter’s 1978 classic Halloween.
By that point, there had already been seven movies in the slasher franchise (not including the standalone Halloween III: Second of the Witch). But the previous movie, 2002’s Halloween Resurrection, was a commercial disappointment and critical bomb, and it was unclear with what direction the series would go in next. Zombie took the series right back to its roots and delivered his own very specific spin on this classic story.
Zombie’s Halloween hit theaters in August 2007 and was a box office hit. But the movie was–and remains–extremely divisive. It’s a film of two halves, the first being an “origin” story for Michael Myers, which showed how his troubled family life helped transform him into a killer. The second half is essentially a compressed remake of Carpenter’s film, as an adult Michael returns to his hometown of Haddonfield on October 31 for a night of bloody mayhem. But while many of the events are the same and all the familiar characters are in there, the oppressive atmosphere and mix of graphic gore and sex made it unmistakably a Rob Zombie movie.
But love it or loathe, Rob Zombie Halloween–plus its 2009 sequel–are a crucial part of the history of this long-running franchise. As with many of Zombie’s movies, the home entertainment releases have been packed with bonus material, including an extensive making-of documentary and director’s commentary. We’ve been back through the behind-the-scenes material to find some of the best, most surprising, and fascinating references, Easter Eggs, and things you didn’t know about the film. And once you’ve read that, check out our guides to the original Halloween and 1998’s Halloween H20.
1. The movie was shot in the same town as the original
Like the first film, Zombie shot Halloween in South Pasadena, California. The house used for the exteriors of the Myers house was two miles from the one that Carpenter used. However, Zombie said he couldn’t use it because it was “all restored and looking good.”
2. William Forsythe’s leg cast was real
William Forsythe plays Michael’s abusive stepdad Ronnie. His character’s leg is in a cast throughout because shortly before production started Forsythe had a motorcycle accident and couldn’t walk properly. Zombie said he was in pain throughout the shoot and that’s why he is sitting in every scene.
3. Baby Angel didn’t want to cry
The baby playing young Angel/Laurie found Forsythe’s voice very soothing. Even though Zombie wanted the child to be upset during the argument scenes, he said that she would stop crying every time she heard Forsythe yelling at Sheri Moon Zombie, playing Michael’s mom.
4. This kitchen was accidentally tidied
The opening breakfast scene in the Myers house was shot on the first day of production. The real kitchen was initially messy as it appears in the film, but not realizing that’s how Zombie wanted it, the art department tidied the whole room ahead of filming. Zombie then had to tell them to put it back how they found it.
5. There were three Myers houses
Zombie and his team had trouble finding a house that had all the rooms they needed for the various scenes set there. In the end, the exterior, the downstairs, and upstairs scenes were shot in three different houses.
6. This kid was already famous
Daryl Sabara, who plays school bully Wesley, was best known in 2007 for his lead role in the Spy Kids movies. These scenes were shot in a real school, and Sabara kept getting mobbed by the kids there when they discovered who he was.
7. Young Michael loved to swear
Daeg Faerch, who plays young Michael, loved the scenes where he gets to swear because he wasn’t allowed to at home. Zombie said that he kept laughing as he said that dialogue, and you can see him start to crack up a couple of times in this scene.
8. This old movie is a homage to the first Halloween
Zombie has the characters watch the ’50 horror classic The Thing from Another World on TV because that’s what they were watching in the original. In a later scene, adult Michael deliberately stops to watch some more of the movie, having missed a lot of it 15 years earlier because he was busy killing his family.
9. William Forsythe didn’t want a kid to cut his throat
A stunt double stood for Faerch for the scene in which Michael cuts Ronnie’s throat. Even though Forsythe is wearing a make-up appliance, it still had to be cut open for the blood to flow out, and Forsythe understandably didn’t want a 10-year-old waving a knife near him.
10. This clever shot was actually very simple
The striking shot of the camera moving through what seems to be a freeze-frame to Michael sitting in the police car, was designed on the day of shooting. While it looks like a clever use of visual effects, Zombie actually told the background actors just to stand very still while he moved the camera towards the car.
11. A lot of these reactions were genuine
The interview between Loomis and Myers was semi-improvised. Zombie gave Malcolm Dowell and Faerch random things to say to each other, without telling each other what they were, in order to get genuine responses.
12. Zombie had a week to create several seasons
The hospital scenes were shot at a Veterans’ Hospital in North Hills, California. Zombie only filmed there for a week but needed to give the impression of many months passing. So he used fake snow, rain, and sunshine for the various brief establishing shots. The rain scene was literally just someone standing to the side spraying a hose in front of the camera.
13. The hospital scenes were influenced by a classic movie
Zombie said that the character of Chief in the 1975 classic One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest was a big influence on the hospital scenes. Everyone has stopped paying attention to Michael, who has not spoken or committed a violent act for many years, until it is too late.
14. This scene was changed to make it more original
The giant image of Michael on a screen behind Loomis was decided on the day of shooting. Originally Zombie planned to show him giving his lecture in a standard theater, but decided it looked far too conventional.
15. This gory effect didn’t work very well
The blood smash effect, as Michael (played as an adult by Tyler Mane) slams the orderly’s head against the wall, had to be filmed over 20 times as they couldn’t get the effect to work properly.
16. Danny Trejo’s death was added later
The scene of Danny Trejo’s character Ismael getting killed by Michael was filmed at a different hospital months after principal photography because Zombie decided he needed a resolution. “When you’re shooting he seemed like a minor character, but when editing he seemed more important,” he said.
17. Michael dropped the TV
When Mane first picked the TV off the wall in this scene, he accidentally dropped it and it smashed. That’s why the shot quickly cuts away and you don’t actually see the set as Michael kills Ismael with it.
18. This scene was entirely reshot
The scene of Loomis being awoken to hear about Michael’s escape was totally reshot. Originally, the escape was during the day, but Zombie changed the timeline in editing to make it happen at night. In the first version, it was hospital administrator Morgan Walker, played by Udo Kier, who makes the call. But Kier wasn’t available for reshoots, so Doctor Koplensen, played by Clint Howard, makes it instead.
19. This dialogue was taken from a classic Paul Newman movie
In the director’s cut, Big Joe Grizzly, played by Dawn of the Dead star Ken Foree, tells Michael “what we have here is failure to communicate.” This is a classic line taken from the Paul Newman movie Cool Hand Luke. Zombie cut it out of the theatrical version, but put it back in for the longer DVD director’s cut after Foree complained.
20. Ken Foree wasn’t very good at playing dead
Zombie had to use CGI to make sure Big Joe looked dead, as Foree kept breathing and blinking. “Ken is an amazing actor, but he’s the worst dead body ever,” Zombie said in the commentary.
21. This Laurie is very different to the one in the original movie
Zombie made a conscious decision not to make Laurie prudish like she is in the original film, because it wouldn’t make as much sense for a teenage girl in 2007. However, he did admit that the vulgar joking with her mom “seemed to bother everybody.”
22. They had to recreate fall in Illinois
Zombie’s decision to shoot Halloween in California meant he had many of the same issues that Carpenter did 30 years earlier in trying to make Hannonfield look like it’s in Illinois. The tree that has been placed in front of the Strode house is hiding a palm tree.
23. Michael’s mask and wig caused issues
Zombie discovered on set that there was an issue with Michael’s mask. Tyler Mane was wearing a long-haired wig throughout, and it was impossible to put the mask on or pull it off without dislodging the wig. This is why you never see Michael fully mask up–he starts, then Zombie cuts away. The same is true later on in the scene with Laurie, when he takes the mask off.
24. There was a full-time leaf wrangler
Zombie said they employed a crew member whose only job was to put leaves on the ground for the exterior Haddonfield shots. Sometimes he’d run out of leaves, and just have to collect them all up and move them to the next location.
25. Danielle Harris is the only previous Halloween actor
Danielle Harris, who plays Annie, is the only cast member to have already appeared in the Halloween franchise. She played Jamie Lloyd in Halloween 5 and 6 in the late ’80s when she was only 11 and 12. Initially, Zombie didn’t want to include anyone from a previous film, but her audition convinced him to cast her.
26. That’s the original Myers house
When Laurie, played by Scout Taylor-Compton, looks out of the window and sees Michael, he is standing in front of the Strode house from the original movie.
27. Scout Taylor-Compton turned 18 during production
It was Taylor-Compton’s 18th birthday on the day this scene with Dee Wallace Stone, playing her mom, was shot. Zombie said he was worried that Taylor-Compton would “go out and get wasted and show up hungover the next day,” but thankfully she didn’t.
28. Zombie reshot Bob’s murder
Originally Bob was killed when Michael follows him out to his van. But Zombie reshot the scene so it mirrored the same shots and music (Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear The Reaper) as Judith’s murder earlier in the film, as well as Bob’s death in Carpenter’s film.
29. The sheet was problematic
Zombie had issues with the sheet that Michael wears to disguise himself as Bob. The glasses kept falling off, so they had to be sewn on with a fishing line. And when the sheet was pulled off, it kept making the hair on Michael’s mask “stand up in some funny way.”
30. Some of the local residents got angry with the production
All of the Haddonfield scenes were shot around a real neighborhood in South Pasadena and in houses where people lived. Zombie said that at one stage unknown residents started throwing rocks at the set.
31. Michael’s hand was taped to Annie’s foot
When Michael pulls Annie, played by Danielle Harris, across the floor, her shoe kept coming off in his hand. So Mane’s hand had to be duct-taped to Harris’s foot.
32. No blood was allowed on the floor
The owner of the house that Annie is attacked in requested that the filmmakers didn’t get any blood on the floor. This is why Annie is found lying on a rug, with blood all over her but very little anywhere else.
33. Zombie has a voice cameo
Zombie provided the voice of the 911 operator as Loomis and Sheriff Brackett race across town.
34. Lindsey’s screams are real
Neither Skyler Gisondo and Jenny Gregg Stewart, playing Tommy and Lindsey, had seen Mane in his Michael mask before this scene was shot. Stewart was genuinely terrified when she saw him come through the door, and her screams were real. Zombie said he had to calm her down after the scene was shot.
35. Michael kept tripping
Mane kept tripping down the stairs as he left the house carrying Laurie, because of his huge size and the fact his mask obscured his vision.
36. This stunt went wrong
The balcony fall stunt went wrong, and the stunt performer playing Laurie hurt herself badly when she fell. Production had to be paused while she was rushed to hospital.
37. The ending was reshot
Zombie reshot the entire ending. In the original climax, Michael is killed in a hail of police gunfire after he is cornered by Loomis and the cops. However, Zombie said that he only ended it this way because of the rushed schedule. When he realized it didn’t really work he was able to go back and totally reshoot it, to allow Laurie to be the one who kills Michael.
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