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Over the years Michael Myers has had something of an unpredictable future. While the Friday the 13th series spent its first decade at Paramount Pictures and A Nightmare on Elm Street single-handedly transformed New Line into a viable production company, over the years the Halloween franchise has been passed from producer to studio, resulting in an uneven association between each sequel.
While in some cases, such as 1998’s revival Halloween H20, a fresh perspective can help to rejuvenate a product, 2009’s Halloween II succeeded in alienating an entire fan base.
Since making his cinematic debut almost forty years ago, Myers has become one of the most iconic and recognisable symbols of horror pop culture, appearing in a total of nine motion pictures and performed by a variety of actors and stuntmen. Conceived by director John Carpenter and producing partner Debra Hill, Halloween was an unexpected success upon its release in the autumn of 1978, not only providing to be one of the most profitable independent movies of all time but also helping to usher in the slasher films of the early 1980s.
But while both Friday the 13th‘s Jason Voorhees and A Nightmare on Elm Street‘s Freddy Krueger continued to scare horror fans throughout the rest of the decade, by the time the Halloween series reached its third instalment the filmmakers had attempted to shift the focus away from their masked antagonist. With 1982’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch providing to be a disappointment to fans, Myers made his inevitable return to the series six years later.
The man responsible for bringing Michael Myers back from the dead was Moustapha Al Akkad, whose financial contributions helped to make Carpenter’s original classic a reality. Akkad’s passion for the character meant that no matter what brutal fate awaited the killer at the end of each movie, the producers would find a way to bring him back from the dead for the next sequel. Thus, even following his decapitation at the end of H20, a plot twist at the beginning of the next film revealed that the heroine had murdered the wrong man, allowing Myers to continue his reign of terror.
Once the original series had finally run its course the studio, Dimension Films, decided to follow in the trend of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre by remaking the first film with a new cast and crew. Rock star-turned-director Rob Zombie had already shocked and disgusted audiences with his first two grind house pictures, House of 1000 Corpses and its loose sequel The Devil’s Rejects, and brought his trademark sleaze and gore to the Halloween franchise.
However, his lack of passion for the sequel resulted in its critical and commercial failure, and over the last six years an array of writers and directors have attempted to resurrect Michael Myers. Following their revamping of the cult slasher My Bloody Valentine, the director-writer duo of Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer worked closely together developing a 3D sequel that would serve as less of a follow-up to Zombie’s movies and more a stand-alone story.
But Dimension’s reluctance to commit to the project brought the 3D concept to standstill. ‘I’m definitely not directing it if they ever do go ahead with a third movie,’ insisted Zombie in 2013, forcing the studio to search elsewhere for talent to once again give the franchise a makeover.
More recently Marcus Dunstan, the writer of no less than four Saw sequels, was rumoured to be directing a new instalment called Halloween Returns. But now it seems that once again Halloween III has been thrust back into development hell as it has been revealed that after two decades of holding the rights to Michael Myers, Dimension Films no longer have control over the series.
‘Dunstan and (co-writer Patrick) Melton are no longer involved, as Miramax wanted a clean break from Dimension and the incarnation of the project that had been in development at the Weinstein Company’s genre division,’ claims TheWrap. ‘Malek Akkad, whose family has been involved with the franchise since Michael Myers was an innocent young boy, remains on board to produce the next Halloween movie, regardless of where the rights wind up.’
While the studio later found acclaim with Halloween H20 and Zombie’s brutal reimagining, Dimension’s first attempt at bringing Myers into the new decade proved less than successful. 1996’s The Curse of Michael Myers was released to negative reviews, with the New York Times declaring it ‘Easily the most inept episode of the Halloween series, The Curse of Michael Myers, which opened yesterday, is so busy cramming half-baked supernatural rigmarole into its formula that it has forgotten how to be suspenseful.’