First Draft (no date)
So I received the Halloween script from an anonymous source a few days ago while making last minute sales calls at work, just waiting for the day to end. I could not believe it was the script, I would not believe it was the script. Then I printed it out and that, to me, was test #1 as to its authenticity. I’m a writer so I know the look, feel, and texture of a proper script.
When I printed it and saw it in front of me – I knew it was the real deal. All formatting was right, the dialogue, action, everything systematically correct (even hardcore fans/hobbyists do make mistakes when trying to pass something off as the real thing). Most importantly, though, was the fact that I could see remnants of the three-hole punches on each page. I knew right away someone at the studio scanned a hard copy and made a PDF file to get it to the masses.
I hurried home and nestled myself in a warm and scary corner of my house so nothing could distract me – no phone, computer, TV, dumper (ha!), nothing. I scanned page 1 – the mood of Halloween, the feel of the holiday, was there. I could see a stuffed scarecrow on the porch with a jack-o-lantern for a head. I was excited – I’m reading Rob Zombie’s script! Before page 1 could end I spotted the 1st of a hundred typos, however; that was distracting but I pressed on and to my amazement, the script was … oh it was …
I wasn’t in love with it … I didn’t hate it … I felt … eh, not bad.
Let’s start with the basics. This is Zombie’s vision. He is doing what he wants and we have to deal with that. He did not go to the John Carpenter School of Suspense and Chills. He’s doing this his way and we should come to terms with that.
Okay so it’s 1978 and Mikey Myers is a little ten-year-old blonde with more problems than he can shake a stick at. His mom is a stripper with a vulgar mouth at The Rabbit in Red Lounge. Her “boyfriend of the month”, as sister Judith puts it, is Ronnie – an abusive drunk, chain smoking homophobe who is all bark and never gets a chance to use his bite. Judith is the promiscuous older sister that uses every opportunity to degrade her little brother. Oh, and Mikey likes to beat it, you know, it, while listening to the sounds of animals he had brutally killed in the past (at age 10 he has quite a libido it seems).
Mikey also has two tormentors at school that follow his every movement. When his teacher finds some drawings and summons his mother to meet at the school with the principal and child psychologist Samuel Loomis, Michael disappears from school and decides to make little Jennifer his first human victim. I won’t spoil the rest of Halloween night 1978; let’s just say the aspects of the original are there but they dropped a hit of acid in Zombie’s setting. Thus sets off the beginning of Michael Myers; not Michael the Evil on Two Legs that we’re used to, but rather Michael The Rage on Two Legs. Michael’s rage is a big part of this script and his driving motivation to kill.
We then see Loomis try to reach Michael, spending, say, 7 years or so attempting to connect with him, and then another 8–10 years (more like 10 since it is a 17-year gap before escaping as opposed to the 15 from the original) trying to keep him locked up. We see Michael staring at the wall, looking past the wall, being inhumanely patient, knowing some force is biding its time within him for something no one at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, save Loomis, can comprehend.
When two idiots decide to rape a mentally challenged resident of Smith’s Grove, Michael makes his escape and the remake begins. Now many people, including Zombie, said that the film eventually gets to present day Haddonfield, but I only saw/read a 17-year gap; thus the remake takes place in 1995 … yet the technology is 2007 so I don’t know.
Now we get to the best part of the script. All the subtle nods to the original are there: “totally”, Ben Tramer, etc. Yet I somehow still felt cheated. There was no character exposition – Annie talks like a complete moron and Lynda’s lines read from the “Guide to Being a Badass in 6th Grade – Swear Your Ass Off”. No girl with proper self-respect tells her boyfriend, at age 18, to “Oh, put it in me”…at least not the little vixens I went to school with. Laurie is the good girl once again and her dad hates corporate America (the roles of her parents are pointless, though, as Cynthia is in 1 scene and Mason only in 2, at least in this draft). Zombie makes the mistake of trying to cram 90 minutes of film into 57 pages of script; Laurie at 17 is introduced on page 69 in the version I obtained.
There are plenty of scares but no mood or chills, although Laurie’s chase scene is just as good if not better than in the original – and more realistic. I like that we get to see Paul, Annie’s boyfriend, even if he is just knife fodder. And speaking of her, Annie has a bigger impact on the end of the film and I can see all three girls’ characters working well if the chemistry among Harris, Compton, and Klebe is right. When Michael speaks, it’s actually spine tingling and the way he obtains the mask and his obsession with it in this draft are both home runs.
Contrary to Zombie’s previous statements, Loomis is basically the same character, no more developed than from Carpenter’s original; one scene with his wife does not round him out in my book. His best lines are lifted right from Halloween 1978, actually. McDowell is a good character actor so I’m sure he’ll make it better than written. Sherriff Brackett is beefed up a bit, however, and more willing to go along with Loomis this time around. In fact Brackett almost does a better job at handling the effect Myers has on his town, although the true Loomis pulls through in the end. I do love Loomis’ obsession with Myers in this film more than in the original. Zombie hit that right.
In the end, did I like the script? Is this the way to do a remake? I don’t know. All I know is the blueprint is there for this to be a new classic – it really is. Zombie just needs to do a few things: 1) Make Loomis his own; he is not doing what he said he wanted to see Loomis do; 2) Laurie needs to be a little more fleshed out; right now she’s doorknob dull; 3) Decide if this is a dramatic study on the effects of a negative familial society on a child (or prequel for those that want a straight one-word definition) or a genuine reimagining of a true horror classic. I think both are fascinating ideas for a film, but Zombie either needs to take away 30 pages from one half and use that extra time for more exposition in the other half of the story or make two films – each 90 minutes long – the first being a psychological thriller on the man behind the mask and the second our remake.
The chances are there for him to make a good film – scratch that, a great film – he just needs to choose wisely to make it great. Either way I am behind Zombie and hope his version of Halloween kicks ass.
3 out of 5