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Casual fans of horror movies, and Halloween in particular, always assume that the hardcore fans love Michael Myers or Laurie Strode the best. But real fans love one man and one man only when it comes to the original Halloween films: the maniacal and hysterical Dr. Loomis (played by the inimitable Donald Pleasence).
When news of the remake started to circulate through the horror community, many fans wondered if the legacy of the great actor and his portrayal of Loomis would be honored. Thankfully, Loomis’ voice made it into the film, but was the audio captured from a previous film or outtakes? As it turns out, the recording of “the good doctor” was performed by voice actor and comedian Colin Mahan. In this exclusive interview, Mahan discusses how he landed the job, the pressure involved in recreating the classic voice, and how comedy and horror are not too far apart on the entertainment spectrum.
Horror News Network: How did you become involved with voicing the Doctor Loomis character in the new Halloween film?
Colin Mahan: Out of the blue I got an email from someone claiming to be working on a new Halloween and who had somehow heard I did Donald Pleasence. My first thought was that it was a really specific phishing scam. I don’t have any Donald Pleasance online, and he is such a weird very distinct and niche impression that whenever I do him onstage it usually gets two comics laughing or silence. Then I Googled the guy, and he was in fact a movie producer!
At first I thought it was for a little audio for the DVD release of the original movie, and that was super cool. But then it turns out it was for the new sequel, and I was blown away. I immediately became very excited and incredibly panicked.
So I send some audition lines to the team and they like it. Then months go by, I try not to bug them, and I’m just trying to remain positive but also not think about it. A lot of things fall through in showbiz so you try to say ‘ez come, ez go.’ It could be they rewrote Loomis out, or someone hated my impression, or they had to do it quickly and grabbed another actor, etc etc. There are a million reasons. But then finally they’re finally ready to record, I head down to Blumhouse and do the lines with the director and sound engineer, and I get my check. So those parts are definitely concrete. They happened. But still I wait and try to forget about it, because the other thing that happens is that you’ll do a bit, but it might get cut out. You just have to get ready for that. Finally, I see the movie and it’s truly in there, and my name is even in the credits! That was a delight. It’s definitely the coolest thing to happen so far in my career.
I am now working on my Dr. Sartain and hopefully in 40 years I can do his VO in the re-sequel.
HNN: Donald Pleasence was a legendary actor, and his distinct voice was a key attribute of the Loomis character. How did you prepare for the role and bringing Loomis back to life?
Mahan: Rehearse the lines excessively and practice doing Donald throughout my day. When I’m really working on an impression I try to do everyday lines as the person, not just the lines we all know and love, so I understand how that person will say anything. So I recited the famous Donald lines like, “I shot him six times! The woods are lovely dark and deep. You are the Duke of New York and you’re A number 1!!” but also just normal things like ‘I’ve got to pour this goddamn coffee into my evil cup and this Amazon package is evil on the porch and now I’m putting evil items into my goddamn MANPURSE GODDAMMIT!’ Every Donald line always ends with yelling.
Actually, I did do a lot of ‘crazy Donald’ line readings that they didn’t use in the movie, maybe it’ll show up on the DVD.
HNN: Were you a fan of the franchise before this job?
Mahan: Yes! That’s why this is such a thrill. when I was younger I used to just run around as Loomis. Donald Pleasance is one of my favorite actors and I love all John Carpenter movies. He was my favorite director when I was a kid. It’s hard to pick my favorite film of his. Halloween is great, but I did love Halloween 2, because it had a lot of Loomis running around and yelling at the sheriff and saying words like “Samhain” which was super great in his voice. Plus that’s when it really became like “Loomis VS Michael.” I even liked Halloween 3. So it’s kind of a childhood dream realized to be a part of this movie. Plus I really liked the movie, they obviously crafted the film with a lot of attention and care. I thought Jamie Lee Curtis was perfect.
HNN: You are also a comedian. Do you think that there is a thin line between comedy and horror?
Yes, especially when the comedy is horrible (insert rimshot sound effect here)!
Both horror and comedy work well when they move slightly faster than you or shock you in an unexpected way. A good scare is like a good punchline in that it’s great when you don’t see it coming.
I think both genres are gut level and best left unexamined. Once you start to dissect why it worked it loses the effect. Everything is so over-scrutinized now and blathered incessantly about in think pieces. “Why was that funny? Why was that scary?” Why do we need to understand it? Just go along for the ride. Not to say always check your brain at the door, but what is the fun in trying to be jaded and overthinking it? It’s escapism, so escape.
Also, some of the best jokes or scares stick with you later, like a John Carpenter ending where you’re thinking of it for decades. “I can’t believe John Nada was killed a the end. What happened after he exposed the aliens?! Did humanity fight back?!” “Was MacReady the thing, or was Childs the thing?””Did Chevy Chase ever get his molecules back?” (for JC fans only).
HNN: How did you become an actor known for your impressions? What other voice work have you done in the industry? What other people or characters do you enjoy doing impressions of?
Mahan: Lonely childhood + hours of unsupervised TV and movies + William Shatner = explosion of nerdiness fit only for a comedy stage or writer’s room! I started out in the 90s during the dot-com boom, and thank god for that because it let a San Francisco comic stay in San Francisco for awhile instead of prematurely going to LA. There were animation and production houses in SF that you could actually earn a living writing for until they irresponsibly burned though millions of cash and imploded the economy. But eventually I did move to LA and did a lot of cartoons and stuff.
Current impressions are The Rock, Jack Black, Vin Diesel, Adam Driver, Kurt Russell. I still love doing Tom Cruise. And Bruce Willis is sort of my flagship impression but we are both too old now to matter. The best thing about doing Kurt Russell is that it translates pretty easily into a Wyatt Russell so I’m extending my viability with the youth market!
In the 90s when I started out, impressions were considered sort of gimmicky and hack, like parlor tricks, but they were also sort of rare. I took a lot of flack from other comics because the thinking went that impressions make it easier to delight an audience and that’s not fair, it’s like magic or props. But I always had sort of a sci-fi weirdo angle to my comedy so it offset that. I didn’t really do ‘What would happen if Ah-nold was at the grocery store?” my stuff was more about “What would happen if Ah-nold stumbled onto a plot about a terrible conspiracy in which humanity is enslaved by a global conglomerate run by Michael Caine? Would Nicolas Cage have to perform an elaborate show tune? I think that would go something like this…” So that had the effect of negating any goodwill earned by my impressions and it served to alienate and confuse audiences, which made them hate me, which made the other comics like me. At the same time, they also grudgingly liked my impressions so after an extended period of psychological discomfort, I was accepted into the SF comedy scene and everyone has regretted it ever since.
Nowadays, YouTube has given a platform to many many impressionists of varying degrees of competence, so it’s kind of like ‘who cares?’ But their still is a visceral thrill when a live audience is surprised by the voice I’m doing. Live is the best. It’s exciting. Especially when I do my Burn Notice bit, and people are like ‘How the hell could Burn Notice have been the number one show in its time slot for years and no one has ever seen it!? Who was watching Burn Notice?!’
HNN: Any projects that you are currently working on?
Mahan: Yes, I have a voice over of an ex-president in an upcoming indie film (I’m sort of Hollywood’s go to guy for old, obscure voices), and I’m doing an audio sketch series with my pal Al Madrigal and some other folks. And of course I’m pitching ideas to Blumhouse about how to keep Loomis in all future Halloween movies. Maybe a Loomis animated series?
Although director David Gordon Green’s Halloween – the most successful slasher film in the history of cinema (having just crossed $229 million at the global box office) may still be in theaters, it appears that Universal Pictures have made ready
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Michael Myers has indeed come home. Three weeks into its release, David Gordon Green’s Halloween has earned a whopping $229.6 million worldwide, unseating Wes Craven’s 1996 meta classic Scream as the most successful slasher film of all time. And right
This year’s Halloween kinda-sorta changes the ending of John Carpenter’s original, adding to the final moments by letting us know that Michael Myers actually was apprehended on Halloween night back in 1978, and subsequently locked up in an institution. We don’t actually get to see Michael’s arrest in the film, which certainly would’ve made for an interesting scene.
But thanks to the Carlisle Borough Police Department in Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania, we now have an idea what it’d look like to see Michael Myers taken into custody like any ordinary criminal. As a fun Halloween prank this past Wednesday night, the CBPD staged the arrest of “Michael Myers,” sharing their catch with the world over on their Facebook page.
The page announced…
“Last night, the Carlisle Borough Police Department apprehended Michael Myers, a 61-year-old fugitive from Haddonfield, Illinois. Myers, known to law enforcement as The Boogeyman, was arrested by Ofc. Zach Saum. Myers was found wandering around near Union Fire Company.
Police arrested Myers after receiving a call from a concerned resident about a suspicious person in the neighborhood. “At first I didn’t think anything of him. I thought he was just a really tall trick-or-treater,” stated the resident, who did not want to reveal their name. “But he was still out there long after Trick-or-Treat was over, just staring into space. It was really freaky.”
Officers in Myers’ home state are unsure why he was so far away on Halloween night. “We were waiting for him all night and he never showed,” said Chief Hawkins of the Haddonfield PD. “It was strange, since this is his big night.” When Carlisle officers asked Myers why he came to the Borough, he wouldn’t say a word; he just kept breathing heavily.
UPDATE: After police removed his mask, they determined it was not Michael Myers, but instead Union Fire Chief Brian Hamilton. Hamilton was just trying to scare some of the firefighters at Union. This means the real Michael Myers is still out there, hopefully in Illinois.”
Gotta love the way Halloween brings out the horror spirit in everyone!
With the astronomical $76.2M opening weekend debut of Blumhouse’s Halloween (2018) fresh in everyone’s mind, horror fans and Hollywood suits alike are now pondering what this could mean for the other two long dormant 80s horror franchises.
There’s already a glimmer of hope on the horizon for the Friday the 13thfranchise: on Monday Bloody Disgusting broke the news that LeBron James (!) is producing a new Jason film in the wake of a court decision that reverted the rights to the original film’s characters back to screenwriter Victor Miller. The same day Freddy Krueger actor Robert Englund teased his willingness to revisit the character for one final film while promoting his guest appearance on the ABC family comedy The Goldbergs. In the space of 72 hours, there’s been big news for all three of the 80s most prolific horror franchises.
And yet…we’ve been in this position before.
Flashback to February 2009. Rob Zombie had already debuted the Dimension-backed first installment of his polarizing revisionist take on Michael Myers in 2007 and he was preparing to shoot the August 2009 sequel. At this point, Michael Bay, Andrew Form and Brad Fuller’s production company Platinum Dunes was three films into their remake frenzy, including 2003’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 2005’s The Amityville Horror and 2007’s The Hitcher. On February 13, Friday the 13th was released in theatres; a little over a year later on April 30, Platinum Dunes released the 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street.
The situation we find ourselves in 2018 is not new: we’re on the cusp of another cycle of remakes. The question is not whether we will see Jason or Freddy again; it is when and in what form? As industry insiders closely follow Halloween’s box office, however, they would do well to consider history. If new installments of our favorite 80s monsters are on the horizon, now is the time to investigate where the previous attempts to reboot Jason and Freddy back in 2009/2010 went wrong in order to ensure the same mistakes aren’t made.
Let’s dig in…
By 2009 it had been six years since horror audiences saw the two icons butt heads in the oft-delayed cross-over film Freddy vs Jason. While this was not the longest time gap in between films for either franchise (there were nine years between 1993’s Jason Goes To Hell and 2002’s Jason X, and nine between 1994’s Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and 2003’s Freddy vs Jason), 2009’s Friday would attempt something new: it was the first attempt to reboot the franchise as an origin story.
Platinum Dunes was clearly taking a page from their successful Texas Chainsaw Massacre playbook, which revitalized that long-dormant franchise. The TCM remake adopted a desaturated yellow colour scheme, a gritty aesthetic and a liberal dose of gory violence. Bay, Form and Fuller had the good sense to bring back Tobe Hooper and writer Kim Henkel as co-producers; Daniel Pearl as cinematographer; and John Larroquette reprised his role as the film’s ominous narrator.
Friday 2009 shares the same director as TCM – Marcus Nispel – and brings back Freddy vs Jason writers Damian Shannon & Mark Swift (despite near universal disdain for FvJ‘s script). It also repurposes part of the iconic Friday the 13th score. The yellow colour filter is swapped out for blue, but TCM’s lean/mean mentality towards kills and gore remains intact. Example A: that sleeping bag kill in the early section of the film is still brutal nearly a decade later.
NOES 2010 leans even further into these ideas. The most substantial difference is that Friday’s script is an amalgamation of what Shannon and Swift consider the best parts of the first four films of the franchise (which explains why the film plays like three films spread across different time periods). NOES’ script was initially going to follow suit, but eventually, the decision was made to focus exclusively on Wes Craven’s original film, shifting the film into explicit remake territory. Importantly, while the film had Englund’s support for recasting the role of Freddy, Craven was publicly vocal about his lack of consultation on the new film.
Horror is arguably one of the genres that is most immune to reviews. As sweeping generalizations go, there is a perception that horror fans are less discerning about the quality of the films that they will support, including films with poor reviews. While this isn’t a hard and fast rule, there is a long and storied history of horror films with low critical aggregate scores that have done well and over-performed at the box office.
It is important to raise this point because it highlights a disconnect between the way horror fans engage with films, which is particularly relevant for the Friday and Nightmare franchises. Consider that by the time of the 2009/2010 remakes, these franchises had a combined 18 films between them over 29 years, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars of box office revenue (to say nothing of lucrative licensing and merchandising deals).
We can consider two points of entry when examining the “success” (or lack thereof) of 2009’s Friday and 2010’s NOES: critic reviews and audience scores/box office. On Rotten Tomatoes, Friday is rated 25% Rotten, while NOES fares even worse at 15% Rotten (for comparison TCM sits at 36%, Freddy vs Jason is 41%, and Zombie’s Halloween is 26%). Critics from traditional (read: non-horror) outlets criticized both films for failing to distinguish themselves from their predecessors, for replicating sequences from the original source material and for relying too heavily on “shock” cuts (ie: jump scares). One obvious distinguishing factor that made Friday go over a little better with critics is the inclusion of humour, while NOES is criticized for being unnecessarily dark and gloomy.
Horror critics weren’t much more favourable:
Friday the 13th:
- BC’s review praises the physicality and presence of Derek Mears as Jason, likens the violence to the “torture porn” trend that was popular with Saw films at the time, and struggles to engage with the opening sequence that functions too much like an extended prologue
A Nightmare On Elm Street:
- David Harley’s review suggests the new film moves briskly and follows the same story with some slight modern updates, but they (and the characters) don’t resonate. Harley’s verdict is that the film fails to offer anything innovative
- Jeff Otto’s review laments the lack of character development, the speed with which characters (and by proxy the audience) know everything and Jackie Earle Haley’s diminutive status, which hampers his ability to scare and intimidate
Cinemascores (exit polls collected over opening weekend) reinforced the audience preference for Friday (B-) over NOES (C+) although the final domestic grosses were nearly identical (approximately ~$65M). The gross, however, is extremely underwhelming when opening weekend figures are considered: Friday opened to $40M while NOES opened slightly lower with $32.9M. The incredibly small difference between opening weekend and final gross for both films indicates that they were both extremely front-loaded (hardcore fans rushed out), but neither film had legs (repeat viewers). Considering Friday’s $19M and NOES’ $35M budget (the latter is quite high for horror) and the subdued response from fans, New Line ultimately pulled the plug on sequel options.
A cursory glance at the key distinctions between Blumhouse’s Halloween, Friday 2009 and NOES 2010 reveal several lessons to be learned:
1) Sequels sell better than remakes: Halloween is a continuation of the original franchise, not a hard reboot (which is sometimes seen as a cynical cash grab by horror fans). Consider this: Zombie’s Halloween remake opened to $31M and ultimately earned $80M, which is slightly better than (but still in line with) Friday and NOES. It appears that there may be a financial ceiling on remakes/reboots.
2) Make the film an event: The fervor surrounding the release of Halloween has dominated horror water cooler talk for nearly the entire year. Not only does the film celebrate the 40th anniversary of John Carpenter‘s original film, it brought back original actress Jamie Lee Curtis to the franchise for the first time in 20 years (still not counting Resurrection). The same argument can be applied to two other franchise entries: 1998’s Halloween: H20 (which played to many of the same strengths to the tune of $55M) and Freddy vs Jason (which capitalized on years of pent-up demand to see the icons face off and ultimately grossed $114M). Even Halloween 2007 was able to capitalize on the odd and unusual choice of Rob Zombie’s involvement to help garner extra attention.
Compare this with Friday and NOES, both of which had much more muted, anxious, and trepidatious reactions from fans. Neither franchise brought back key players such as Kane Hodder or Robert Englund and, in NOES’ case, actually irked Craven, which did not sit well with loyal fans.
3) Reviews matter: Although there are plenty of horror films that have performed admirably without the benefit of strong reviews, Halloween has been able to appeal to a broader audience thanks to its 80% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and sparkling endorsement from horror critics. The B+ Cinemascore also indicates that audiences who see the film are mostly liking what they see.
4) Reputation matters: One intriguing new development that was not in play when the Friday and NOES remakes were made is the power of Blumhouse. The production company has been around since 2000, but didn’t break out until 2009 with the release of Paranormal Activity. Since then Blumhouse has developed a reputation for producing good to great films on small budgets, which ensures high profitability. Their association with well-liked genre auteurs such as James Wan, Leigh Whannell, and Oscar winner Jordan Peele has generated audience goodwill and faith in the brand, which undoubtedly helped to sell Halloween as a reverent property that fans could trust to deliver the goods.
5) Be selective with the homages: One of the consistent complaints in nearly all of the reviews for both Friday 2009 and NOES 2010 is their slavish devotion to previous installments. This is especially apparent in A Nightmare on Elm Street, which lifted whole sequences from Craven’s original film and then failed to differentiate, modernize or improve upon them. Friday the13th‘s cheeky playfulness — incorporating elements of the first four films — likely would have been better received if they were spread out throughout the film, rather than starting the film with a series of false starts. Compare this with the (mostly) appreciative response to the Blumhouse Halloween‘s visual references to its predecessors, even those it has disavowed in its retconned timeline; several reviews applaud its efforts to pay homage without literally recreating the original set pieces.
6) Make it timely: This lesson is apt to be the most controversial. Halloween has generated a fair amount of press due to its political and cultural relevancy in the era of #MeToo. The film’s focus on female trauma, recovery and (to a certain extent) vengeance against a male oppressor has been a persistent theme in reviews, media interviews and think piece articles published in the wake of the film’s release. This has undoubtedly helped to raise the film’s profile and may have encouraged audiences who were uninterested in seeing the film to make an effort to support it. Attempting to anticipate trends years in advance can be dangerous and films run the risk of being out of touch, overly topical, appearing disingenuous or turning off potential audiences.
Whether future iterations of Friday The 13thand A Nightmare On Elm Street will heed these lessons is uncertain, but it is clear that horror audiences are less welcoming to remakes of their favourite franchises, particularly those that eschew the actors and creators that helped make the originals so memorable. Warner Bros and New Line would do well to consider their scripts, their release dates and keep Hodder, Englund, Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, Kevin Bacon, and Victor Miller on speed dial before they pull the trigger on a new film.
What are your thoughts? Do any of the lessons stated above stand out as reasons why Halloween succeeded where Friday 2009 and NOES 2010 failed?
With their “Scary Black Cherry” slushy drink and “Nightmare King” burger, it’s pretty safe to say that Burger King won Halloween this year in a big way. Unbeknownst to us until today, Burger King also whipped up another fun little Halloween promotion, enlisting the help of artist Franceso Francavilla to create spooky ketchup packets that are REALLY cool.
According to Francavilla, the “Bloody Monsters” packets were available in select locations on Halloween day, but we encourage you to check with your local BK as they might still have some lying around! Each of the different packets has a monster on it, and when you tear along the dotted line and squeeze out the ketchup, it looks like they’re oozing monster blood!
You may be out of luck at this point, but it’s worth checking!
— FrancescoFrancavilla (@f_francavilla) October 31, 2018
A client set look at the ketchup packets I designed for @BurgerKing for this #Halloween Shout out to @LOLAmullenlowe agency for getting me involved with such a cool project! pic.twitter.com/PNo2Sz84US
— FrancescoFrancavilla (@f_francavilla) October 31, 2018
Yes, that’s totally the “Bent-Neck Lady” from “The Haunting of Hill House.”
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are always way more fun in October than any other time of the year, especially when the friends and other folks you follow start sharing pictures of their Halloween costumes. This year, we’ve been compiling all of our favorites for the past couple weeks, and we’ve put them together for you guys here today.
Today is, after all, October 31st. So… Happy Halloween!!
We’ve been happy to see that Mandy has spawned a handful of costumes this Halloween, with several people dressing as Nicolas Cage’s Red Miller (including filmmaker Mike Mendez!). Our friend Ama Lea even dressed as the film’s Cheddar Goblin, mac ‘n cheese vomit and all!
Other costumes we’ve been delighted to see this year include a gnarly one from Gerald’s Game, Dennis from Serpent and the Rainbow, and even Aunt Martha from Sleepaway Camp.
Horror fans always rule Halloween. You’ve all made us proud!
— Spooky Astronauts (@astroemma) October 31, 2018
— Who Can Kill a Shild(wachter)? (@zachforzombies) October 21, 2018
— Chelsea Rebecca (@carebecc) October 28, 2018
“Don’t burry me . . . I’m not dead!”
My #Halloween Costume for tonight’s party is inspired by Wes Craven’s The Serpent & the Rainbow”! Such an eerie movie that it scared the crap outta me as a kid, especially the scene were Dr. Dennis Alan “Dies” in the streets of Haiti! pic.twitter.com/sCeqqb3cXy
— Thomas Bryce (@ShitMovieFest) October 20, 2018
Halloween is canceled pic.twitter.com/bu65MUQDwp
— Dwight (@keepdwightgirl) October 29, 2018
— Caroline Williams (@WilliCaroline) October 28, 2018
— Andrija® (@AndrijaMP) October 31, 2018
i spent longer on my makeup last night than i did at the party pic.twitter.com/xX0ysEpmEB
— pumpkin spice leeni (@teenyleeni) October 28, 2018
— TheTrashMask (@Elle_trash) October 23, 2018
— crazy witch asian (@rewritereality) October 26, 2018
— Mike Mendez (@madmanmendez) October 28, 2018
My final form pic.twitter.com/80qSxl8nxW
— Ama Lea (@MissAmaLea) October 26, 2018
— Kate Lawler (@katelawler) October 29, 2018
What’s up, I dressed as Aunt Martha from Sleepaway Camp to co-host the Halloween edition of Dead Right Horror Trivia tonight and I have no regrets. pic.twitter.com/edrny212Fz
— Luke Piotrowski (@luke_piotrowski) October 26, 2018
— Kristopher Tapley (@kristapley) October 24, 2018
#happyhalloween everyone! Here are some photos of my Nun makeup – check out the transformation video of you want to see how I created this look (and washed it off lol)https://t.co/zW6yK6pb4P pic.twitter.com/6sPH7k3X8O
— Mollie Demon (@MollieDamon) October 31, 2018
With David Gordon Green’s critically raved about film Halloween still #1 at the box office for the second week in a row, we’ve rounded up some of the feature film’s trailers, television spots and clips to get you into the
Modern technology sure is taking Halloween costumes to new levels, eh?
For Halloween this year, build master “Mikeasaurus” decided to take on the role of Marvel’s Ghost Rider, and he damn sure wasn’t heading to Spirit Halloween to achieve the look. Instead, Mike 3D printed his very own skull for the mask, and used flickering LED lights and a hidden e-cigarette to make the skull look like it was on fire and spitting out hot smoke!
He explains, “Adding smoke effect for your costume is easier to achieve than you might think, using a vaping e-cig loaded with vegetable glycol and pumped using a small aquarium pump. This effect combined with tucking some flickering LEDs into incospicuous places can give a realistic fire and smoke look to your next costume.”
“I made this Ghost Rider costume by 3D printing a skull I found on Thingiverse (free), modifying it in Tinkercad (also free), then printing it out and painting it. All the electronics and controls were kept incredibly simple, and are controlled by a cluster of buttons held in one hand and operated by momentary switches.”
Head over to Instructables for Mike’s step-by-step detailing of how the costume was made, or if you’re more the “video content” type, watch a time lapse video of the build below!