It is fair to say that the Halloween franchise has always had a fairly loose continuity. While many forget it was the second film in the series, Halloween II (1981), that introduced the concept of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) being Michael Myers’ little sister, not much else in that film stuck. Killer Michael and the crusading psychiatrist Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) were incinerated into kindling at that movie’s end, and yet both were back with only a few scratches in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988). Curtis, meanwhile, didn’t return to the franchise again until a decade after that in 1998’s Halloween: H20, in which Laurie Strode faced her brother Michael one last time… until the following film unceremoniously (and foolishly) killed Laurie off in the first 15 minutes. Which was the second time Laurie died if you count the whisperings in Halloween 4. And then there are the Rob Zombie remakes…
So needless to say, there is a lot of narrative ambiguity around the franchise, which is perhaps why Curtis is so enthusiastic for what writer-director David Gordon Green and co-writer Danny McBride came with for their own soft reboot in 2018: ignore everything that came after 1978. That includes the multiple deaths of Laurie, the remakes, the various nieces and nephews running around… and even the fact Laurie Strode is Michael Myers’ little sister. Rather Halloween (2018) returns to what made the original film so terrifying: the inexplicability and randomness of evil acts. And it’s something Curtis was very pleased to embrace when talking to Den of Geek at San Diego Comic-Con.
“So the beautiful construction here is how do you tell a story that has nine other stories attached to it?” Curtis asks during our interview. “Because those nine stories were written by nine different people. And I’m not saying that each one individually doesn’t have their own merit, their own value, and no one is saying they don’t exist. What we’re saying is this movie is only directly related to Halloween in 1978 and what happened to Laurie Strode on Halloween night in 1978.”
It clearly returns to the original horror of the first movie’s conceit that evil can strike anywhere at any time, something that Halloween II muddied by making the killer and his prized victim siblings—an aspect Carpenter has personally said he regrets after handing in the story for the sequel and then mostly washing his hands of the franchise.
For her part, Curtis seems to somewhat agree. “There is nothing more terrifying in the world than a random act of violence, that is the root of terrorism,” Curtis says. “Not that you see it coming, that something occurs in a horrible way, without you ever thinking it could happen to you, that’s what made this movie so profoundly terrifying, is it was random. Now the story got twisted, and there are people who love that idea. Kevin Smith loves that idea of it being her brother. But to me, what’s really terrifying is not knowing why this happened and that’s what David so beautifully has woven back, and you left this woman with nothing but she’s become the boy who cried wolf.”
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In this vein, Curtis raises some interesting parallels between Laurie Strode, especially in how she and Green have reimagined her for 2018, and the #MeToo moment that swept through the culture while they were shooting the film. There is even a grim realization that the terror treated as the stuff of nigh-supernatural fantasy in the original Halloween is now part and parcel of real everyday life.
“Laurie Strode had something happen to her that no one should ever have happen, and she just reacted in her intelligent way to save her life, period. End of story, the movie ends,” Curtis says. “This new movie picks up 40 years later, and what happened is 40 years later, there was no trauma therapy, no one went in and gave her mental health services, she was raised by Midwestern, simple people, who said, ‘Baby, you’re okay.’ And she went back to school two days later with a little scar on her arm. And that’s it. And you see, that kind of PTSD, that kind trauma, just compounds. And what we’re seeing in the world today is that all of these women who have been traumatized, victimized, beaten, battered, raped, have all found the voice to say no more.
“So it’s interesting that this movie coincides, beautifully, with that well-spring of empowerment and understanding, and Laurie Strode was a 17-year-old high school student who nobody paid any attention to. Now she is demanding a moment.”
Hence how Curtis can draw a line also between Laurie’s waking nightmare and the realities that have come to dominate the nightly news.
“Can imagine Karen’s first day in first grade?” Curtis asks me while referring to Laurie’s daughter in 2018’s Halloween, who in the film is now an adult and a mother herself. “Laurie Strode walks in, looks at the teacher and says, ‘What’s your exit strategy?’ Now today, sadly every first grader knows what shelter in place means, knows what an active shooter alert means. Like our children today are prepared for that horrible reality. But in 1978? … So you see, that’s the woman. It’s fascinating when you have someone unchecked like that who’s had no help, and that’s really who you find in the movie.”
It is the most visceral and tangibly human portrait of Laurie Strode since Carpenter’s original film. And it will allow Laurie to have her moment when Halloween opens on Oct. 19.