This week, slasher legend Michael Myers will be resurrected once again, this time in a total page one remake of John Carpenter's 1978 classic. It's been a long, strange road for Myers -- at one point, I think his mind was being controlled by Druids? -- but Rob Zombie's remake attempts to go somewhere new with the character by focusing almost the entire first hour on Myers' messed-up childhood -- Carpenter devoted comparatively little time to the origin story -- showing us his torment at the hands of school bullies, his disgust at his slovenly couch potato step-father and promiscuous sister, and tracking his slow degradation into a mute nutjob. This first section of Halloween, which strongly echoes the grotesque, white-trash circus atmosphere that surrounds Zombie's first two films, House of 1000 Corpses and its sequel, The Devil's Rejects, is where you'll most easily see the director's fingerprints. A couple of weeks ago, I got a call from Rob to talk about the film, what he wanted to accomplish with it, and what other irons he's got in the fire.
RS: So have you seen the film with an audience yet?
RZ: I've seen the film twice, two different versions with an audience, but I have not seen the final, finished version yet.
RS: How was the reaction in those early screenings?
RZ: The reaction was awesome -- it was one of those test screenings. You actually get more information than you'd normally get. It's actually hard to judge, when you're sitting in the crowd, what people are thinking. When I watch a movie, I don't make a sound or move. The more I'm into the movie, the more bored I look. So you're sitting there, kind of panicking, like 'I can't tell if people like it!' Then afterwards, when people started talking, everyone loved it. If someone jumps or something, you can tell they react, but most of the time when they're paying close attention, there's no reaction at all.
RS: Why was it important for you to cast a big, tall guy like Tyler Mane as the adult Michael? The scary thing about Michael is that he's crazy and you have no idea what he's thinking, right?
RZ: Well, the fact that he's tall doesn't take away the part that he's crazy or any of that. None of that is lessened. Two reasons -- one is that I didn't want to make him supernatural, you know, which he had sort of been. In order for a guy, in the other films, of his size to do the things he was doing, he'd have to be supernatural and have superhuman strength. I didn't want to do that, because I thought that had been done and I wanted to take a different approach. The only way to get somebody who could physically do the things I have him do in this movie would be someone of that size. And I just thought, frankly, he's much more frightening. When he comes crashing through ... You know, people always say that to me -- 'don't you think a normal-sized guy is more frightening? And I go 'F*ck no.' If a normal-sized guy comes at me, I'm not worried. If a guy like Tyler comes at me, I'm f*ckin' worried. I wanted him to be like Frankenstein -- a total monster. And he is. Tyler's great, because he's not ... he used to be a lot bigger. He lost 100 pounds, so he's not really bulky. He's actually pretty slim, but he's just so big. I wanted him to have a physical presence that was different than, you know, the average people in the movie, and he totally does.