by Hayder Al-Shakarchi
Exactly four decades ago, the original Halloween was released, and nobody could’ve ever predicted what a gamechanger it would end up becoming!
From that epic first scene to the final moments of Rob Zombie’s rendition, Halloween continued to progress with each generation and continues to be the godfather of all horror movies! Now, only days away from the release of the biggest installation ever, Malek reveals everything Halloween!
al-Shakarchi: First off, Malek, I am a HUGE fan! What a franchise! How did all this cinematic beauty begin?
Akkad: “Somehow, my father had that foresight and saw that Halloween was going to be something special and decided to take a chance on it. Now here we are; forty years later, still doing these movies!”
al-Shakarchi: When did you first get involved in the franchise?
Akkad: “I was nine-years-old when I first arrived on a Halloween set and that’s when my work began, but simply as an annoyance to my father. (Chuckles) I was constantly tugging on his leg, pleading for answers: ‘What’s this, what’s that, dad?!’ It was beautiful because I’m a producer now, and although I don’t have children, I don’t know how I’d ever be to have that patience. He never lost his cool, not even once! He never yelled at me to ‘go sit over there!’ or demanded that I stop bothering him. He was just so humble.”
al-Shakarchi: Can you give us a timeline of your involvement, starting from the first installment you worked on to Halloween (2018)?
Akkad: “I got older and ended up working with him on the fourth installment, Halloween: The Return of Michael Myers, in which I was a production assistant. That’s when I started receiving a paycheck and all. Then, I decided to go my own way… I worked on some music videos, commercials, and some really bad low-budget flicks, but I was happy. And then, my father called me up one day and said, ‘We’re doing another Halloween, why don’t you come help us out?’ I was young and so I arrogantly retorted that I’m my own producer and not only his son, to which he responded, ‘Oh! Well then, come show me what you got, big shot!” (Laughs) So I worked with him on that project, and then I could tell that he wanted to slow down, otherwise he might’ve wanted to step back. That’s when I thought, ‘I’m young and energetic. I can take over,’ and so slowly but surely, I got to the point in which I was running the company. Thankfully, we did have the chance to continue working together on Halloween H20: 20 Years Later and Halloween: Resurrection, and then came the untimely passing of my father and my sister...”
al-Shakarchi: Wow! So then, it was all in your hands! What were your initial thoughts on continuing the legacy?
Akkad: “Well, it took me approximately 4-6 months to just recover from their passing, which occurred during the 2015 terrorist attacks in Jordan. When it was time, I was determined to come back bigger and better than ever with a new Halloween; something new and fresh that had never been done before. So I said, ‘Let’s relaunch it and start a whole new franchise, in honor of my father.’ The studio was completely behind it and that’s when Rob Zombie came along… It was all so wonderful, yet bittersweet. On one side, it was sad for me to be doing an installment without my father. Yet on the other side, I was continuing my father’s legacy. In the end, I know that nobody would be happier to see Halloween continue other than my father... I definitely felt his spirit with us through it all; I can already see the biggest smile on his face, wherever he may be.”
al-Shakarchi: Your father also achieved something that not many other horror films couldn’t: Rendering suspense without the use of excessive blood, especially in the original. What are your views regarding gore?
Akkad: “Suspense over gore is essential. We’ve always tried to keep it classy in that regard. Now, we’ve definitely crossed that line on a few occasions, especially when the studio wanted more, and so they pretty much pushed it on us. I wasn’t a fan of that, and so there were some scenes that I could think of, particularly in Rob Zombie’s sequel, in which I’d lost a couple of battles. Honestly, it was just overkill. Thus, there are certain installments that I favor over others. In my opinion, the tension simply lies in the protagonist remaining alive… The character needs to have a chance to escape, and that’s when you really have tension.”
al-Shakarchi: So now that you have taken over one of the biggest horror franchises in cinematic history: How did Halloween affect you as a child, and what scared you when you were young?
Akkad: “Well, when I would go to the theaters and watch movies with my friends during my childhood, I would always be fully aware of the camera angles, the lighting, the crew; all of the stuff that viewers weren’t meant to be aware of. My friends could watch a movie and for them, that would be it. For me, I was completely aware of the entire process from a very young age and so that was different. Also, I was a daring kid! What I really enjoyed was showing the original Halloween to my childhood friends during sleepovers, which I probably shouldn’t have done, but I’d go ahead and turn it on, anyway. (Chuckles) I used to just LOVE watching them jump! What a sight! A bunch of 10-year-old boys, clinging on to each other for dear life, screaming at the top of their lungs! Then, when they’d all fallen asleep, I’d put on a cheap version of the mask and make my way outside, walk around the house and wake my friends up by tapping on the window with a knife. They’d just jump up and SCREAM! I loved it! So, I guess had more fun scaring other people.”
al-Shakarchi: Of course you had more fun scaring other people! You and your beloved father have achieved to scare the living hell out of us for the past forty years! But wait, if you love scares so much, what’s your favorite scary movie? (Oh, and you can’t say Halloween, Malek.)
Akkad: “I would say Halloween, but you just told me that I can’t [laughs.] Let’s see... One that really scared me as a kid would certainly be The Changeling with George C. Scott; I really enjoyed that film. Then, there was Altered States, which really freaked me out… Like, a lot! And of course, the original Alien… I had gone to see it in theaters when it first came out, I was 10-years-old, and I was simply terrified! Those three films I definitely remember scaring the hell out of me, but then I got more into the movie-making process and so movies didn’t really scare me anymore because I knew the exact tricks that they were using.”
al-Shakarchi: Bold choices! Now since you mentioned it, which Halloween did you enjoy the most? Personally, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later has always been my all-time favorite!
Akkad: “H20 is definitely up there for me and it was actually a very big step in my career… It was my first time working with Jamie [Lee-Curtis] and it was such a fantastic experience! But personally, Rob Zombie’s duology would be my favorite. I think it was very well-made and produced and to be honest, it was my baby! Especially since it was the first one that I had made without my father and so it’s by far the most sentimental to me. Though ultimately, none of them could ever be able to surpass the original.”
(Source: Halloweenmovie - Instagram)
al-Shakarchi: Alright, Malek… Time for the million-dollar question: What is happening with the upcoming Halloween?
Akkad: “I really can’t say anything more than what’s already out there, but I can tell you this: There are definitely going to be some really awesome kills that the fans are going to love!”
al-Shakarchi: Niiice! So, will any of these killings replicate previous ones, possibly from the original?
Akkad: “Okay, I can’t go that far… (Laughs) However, I will say that nowadays, Easter eggs are definitely a big thing and we’ve always respected paying homage. Now, even though I can’t tell you if they’ll be replica kills per se, die-hard fans that really know the franchise are going to see some really cool hints leading back to the original. Basically, people who know the franchise are going to love that aspect while others just won’t catch it… That’s always fun.”
al-Shakarchi: But what is going on with the timeline? Many people are wondering how Jamie Lee Curtis is returning when her character was killed off in Halloween: Resurrection?
Akkad: “As you know, we’re taking over from where the original left off. In the end, it’s a strange timeline, as fans knows, because we’ve made many left turns in the franchise before. For example, there was Halloween 3, which strayed away from Michael Myers, then the fourth and fifth installments, which had their own narratives revolving around the character of Jamie, and then came the sixth, which went in an entirely different direction… We’ve definitely done this in the past.”
al-Shakarchi: Now, with all the great horror movies that are coming out nowadays, what still makes Halloween relevant today?
Akkad: I have theories, but I think what it really comes down to is the popularity. I think Michael Myers has become such a huge part of the American lexicon and so he’s tied to the holiday, and that’s a huge part of it… The holiday comes around every year, and so we can create a revival every year. And now, there’s a whole new generation out there who may have not seen any of the Halloween movies. Thus, with this one, we’re really trying to reign them in from all sides: the older generation that grew up with the franchise and the younger generation that may not know about this franchise.”
al-Shakarchi: It seems like you’re aiming to continue Halloween in the long run! With all the current horror movies that are being translated into television shows, could Halloween ever hit the small screen?
Akkad: “Well, we definitely have thought about it and there could even be something in the works… I can’t really say more than that. We’re fully aware of the Scream TV series and all that’s coming up on that front, so I can’t really tell you that there’s anything in the immediate future since currently, our focus is all on this next movie.”
al-Shakarchi: Hey, Danny McBride! Since you were the creative force behind this specific direction, please tell us: Michael no longer being Laurie’s brother is HUGE! What was the creative motivation that backed such a bold move?
McBride: "I was pushing for that removal right off the bat. I just felt like that was an area where he wasn't quite as scary anymore, it seemed too personalized, I wasn't as afraid of Michael Myers anymore because I'm not his [email protected]#king brother, so he's not coming after me. And also, you've seen it. So wouldn't it be interesting just to see what would happen if it wasn't that? And what does that open up for us? If it was this random killing that has affected this character. So it just seemed like new territory to bite off."
There you have it, folks! Ready for Halloween? I know I am!
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