FRIGHT INTERVIEW – Tony Masi of HalloweenMovies.com
Tony Masi started out by making a fan related website called the Myers Museum to practice his web designing skills & showcase his Halloween poster collection. Before he knew it, the Myers Museum became one of the most visited sites by Michael Myers fans everywhere & hosted one of the first Halloween message boards. Fans would write in, share their collectibles & network with other fans. He later helped organize the 25th anniversary convention for the original Halloween on October 31st thru November 2nd of 2003 in Pasadena, CA and currently holds the gig as webmaster for Halloween Movies.com, the official site of Michael Myers. – by Robg. 3/04
What were your first recollections of getting into the horror genre?
When I was in the 4th grade, my grandmother took care of me when I stayed home sick from school one day. Sometime during the day Psycho came on TV. She was riveted and every time I entered the room she’d tell me to leave. I remember asking why and she said, “It’s not for your eyes, it’s scary!” I played in my bedroom and heard the creepy music, and I just remember really wanting to experience something scary. Another reason why I remember that day is because my grandmother is German, and she kept pronouncing the “p” in Psycho! She said, “I’m watching P-sycho!!”
Do you remember the first impression Halloween had made on you? Has it always been your favorite horror film?
I remember seeing Halloween on TV when I was in elementary school, and the part where Myers strangles Annie really upset me. In school the next day I remember all the kids talking about the movie, talking about how Myers was probably hanging around our very playground outside. I had to walk home through a pathway that went by the woods and I remember running home for at least a week after that!
You ended up being one of the key people involved with organizing the Halloween Returns To Haddonfield 25th Anniversary Convention. How did that event first come about?
In 2002, I met a Halloween fan named Paul at the Halloween Resurrection premiere, who mentioned how cool it would be to organize a Halloween convention. We got to talking and realized it could happen if we worked our asses off. Short and simple answer is, that’s just what we did! You can see the entire event’s history by reading the news section on the convention’s official site, which is at www.Halloween25.com.
Was it difficult tracking down people involved with the Halloween films to take part in this event? Who were some of the first people you contacted?
It was very difficult contacting everyone. We got our contact info from a myriad of places and just started writing letters and making calls. Having Moustapha Akkad, Joe Wolf and Irwin Yablans agree to make appearances and this happened in January of 2003, was when we realized the event would definitely happen. Debra Hill refused to be there, Jamie Lee Curtis declined the invitation, and some people we just never heard from, like Nick Castle, Nancy Kyes and Tommy Lee Wallace. I can understand some of the actors from the sequels not being there, but it floored me that some of the people associated with the original Halloween film wouldn’t want to make an appearance. It was all in good fun, and the event was even a benefit for a children’s hospital! Besides, how often does a little horror movie define a genre? Halloween ushered in modern horror! You’d think everyone associated with the film would want to celebrate its longevity and influence on the film industry 25 years later, but I guess not!
Now that the event has come and gone, what were some personal highlights for you?
Seeing the fans show up in droves! You always get this feeling as an event organizer that you’ll open the doors and no one will be there to buy a ticket. I also loved meeting all the actors that I’ve admired for so many years, and finding out that they were all very nice people who truly appreciated being there to celebrate such a great milestone with the fans. Words alone can’t describe how amazing it was to see so many smiling faces from both fans and celebrities.
How did it feel to see both the original Halloween and Halloween 4 on the big screen with a crowd full of fellow fans at the convention? Had you ever seen either film in a theater before?
Believe it or not, I didn’t make it to the film screenings! I was running around like a madman on both days of the event, and I was a complete zombie by the end of everything. I felt like I had run around the globe! I knew that if I sat in the audience during the screenings that I’d fall asleep immediately, so I just didn’t attend. Besides, I had work to do at the hotel on Friday night to get ready for Saturday’s activities. I think I got 2 hours of sleep that night! Can’t quite remember, I just know that caffeine and adrenaline kept me going.
Tell us about how you first started your Myers Museum website. Were meeting new people and lack of content on the Internet at the time motivating factors?
I had an interest in learning how to create a website but couldn’t figure out what the site’s content should be. Since I had this extensive Halloween poster collection, I just called the site “The Myers Museum” and put up pics of all my stuff. It was really just a place for me to practice my html programming and Photoshop skills. I didn’t think it would be something that anyone else really cared about but me, but eventually I started getting tons of hits and the site grew year after year until there was a mailing list of over 4,000 people.
How did you go about gathering that early website content and gaining such popularity amongst the Halloween following?
Once the site started getting hits, I got the bug to really start collecting even more than I already had. I bought up every Halloween-related collectible I could find and I’d put it on the site. I followed my own rule that I wouldn’t post a pic of any item on the site unless I actually owned the item. For some reason I thought it would cheapen the site if I just threw tons of pics up there without actually having the items stashed in my closet! I joked with people that one day I’d buy the Myers house in Pasadena and turn it into a real museum which I’d open during the month of October only. That’s not something I aspire to anymore, but dreams are definitely motivators!
After years of building The Myers Museum site, you’ve moved on to maintaining the official Halloween website. Did you ever think your obsession with this horror film and your fan-related site would lead to landing a gig as webmaster for the official Halloween movies site? How has that experience been thus far for you?
I never thought I’d be running hm.com and truthfully it’s a lot of fun! I love reading the fan mail and making announcements. It’s nice being able to indirectly be part of the new film that’s being made as well, and Moustapha and Malek Akkad are great people to work for. Every single interaction I’ve had with them over the last year has been positive and professional.
You helped host a contest for a lucky fan to have a small walk in role in the upcoming Halloween 9. Do you have any other involvements with the now in production sequel? Personally we feel you should make a cameo!
A cameo would be great! The producers are sending me to the set of Halloween 9 to do a “Making of Halloween 9” segment on the website so if there’s a chance for me to be some guy just sitting in the background in a coffee shop or something, I’m definitely up for it! Aside from that, I’ll be the point of info for the fans via the website, as well as anything else the producers ask of me!
What kind of Halloween sequel would you as a fan and contributor like to see? Have you ever written a Michael Myers story?
I did write a screenplay with a friend of mine called “Halloween: Obsession” that weaves 3 storylines together into one big explosive ending. I think the Halloween films need to re-visit Michael’s past to get a grip on the evil child that lives within him. Let’s be honest, kids can be creepy in horror movies! But fans expect to see Michael Myers in all his glory in a contemporary setting wielding that big butcher knife as well, so there’s a lot of new modern-day stuff going on, too. It’s a fan-oriented story that also paves way for new sequels.
You had done the documentary with Dave at Orange Grove Video that toured all the locations from the first 2 Halloween films in Pasadena a few years back. The video has become a favorite among fans! How did you go about finding all the locations and how long did it take you to find these places? Any interesting stories on your search for, or visits to, these sites?
Dave pioneered that project and he got the idea from another fan-made Halloween locations video he had seen, which featured only a handful of sites. Dave’s goal was to tour all of the sites and do an outstanding job on the production, which he eventually did. When we were in the alleyway where the Elrod house is, the guy who owns that house came outside and asked us what we were doing? the neighbor’s dog was barking at us like crazy so it drew attention. We told him we were Halloween fans and he took us right inside his house!! The kitchen looked exactly the same, and the cutting board that Mrs. Elrod used while making that famous ham sandwich in Halloween II was still there! Also, and this was probably the creepiest part, the guy’s father (a really old man) was sleeping in a chair in the living room just like Mr. Elrod!
Which do you prefer better, the Halloween 6 theatrical version or the Producer’s Cut?
I actually prefer the theatrical cut’s ending because it’s much more effective than the dreaded and extremely weak “the runes stopped him” rationale. However, overall, I like the Producer’s Cut better because Dr. Loomis has more great lines. Big big Loomis fan here!
Which to you is the best of the Halloween sequels?
Halloween II, only because it takes place on the same night with the same cast. I really can’t watch Halloween without throwing Halloween II into the DVD player immediately afterwards! But after II, I loved H20 the best. Fighting your demon and winning the battle made for such a great character for Laurie Strode, and I was fascinated by the story for that reason. I was rooting for her and not Myers, which is rare for me in all the other Halloween films!
Do you agree that in Halloween mythology, Michael and Loomis met their end during the finale of Halloween II, and the rest of the series is mere entertainment?
Loomis and Myers were two great characters that did meet their fate but lived to tell a few more grisly tales due the magic of Hollywood. No one can deny that Halloween II was made to cash in on the success of the original film, right? Besides, it’s all entertainment in the end anyway.
Which actor to you was the best Michael?
Nick Castle, of course! He’s the guy I kept envisioning lingering among the trees at the playground at my elementary school. Brad Loree is my second fave. Very ominous portrayal of Myers.
Do you think that the Halloween series would have been re-vitalized if they continued from part 4 with Jamie as the new killer?
I was totally shocked by the ending of Halloween 4. I saw it when I was a freshman in college and didn’t see that ending coming- AT ALL. After the movie I remembered thinking, “It’s so cool that Jamie Lloyd is the crazy kid now that’ll grow up to be just like her crazy uncle!!!” I was really looking forward to that storyline continuing, but today I don’t feel the same. In retrospect, I think if H5 picked up with Jamie being the killer, the series would have gone straight to video. Audiences connected with Michael Myers. Even with great writing, no matter how you slice it, Jamie Lloyd wasn’t – nor could she ever be – Michael Myers.
Were you furious at the ending of H20? What was your honest opinion of that particular sequel?
I loved the ending because it was solid resolution for Laurie Strode’s character. I’m a screenwriter myself and I get caught up in great character arcs. She lived in fear day after day for years and finally confronted -and killed – her lifelong demon. The decapitation was very unexpected for me, and it showed me that the producers were willing to let the audience believe Myers was actually dead for once, which in my eyes elevated that particular installment to a new level. They were going for theme and strong writing, and I relate to that stuff.
Do you agree that the making of special on the Halloween 5 DVD from Anchor Bay was actually better then the movie itself?
I love Halloween 5! It was very messy – everything from its way-off version of the Myers house to the “Man in Black” – but Danielle Harris did another absolutely fantastic great acting job, and Loomis had great lines! I heard a reviewer quip that Donald Pleasence “chewed up more lines than Jaws” in the movie, but that’s what made is so great! The “making of H5” segment was cool though.
Which is better… the Halloween theatrical cut, or the Extended Edition?
Theatrical cut, definitely. Although the extra scenes are entertaining, to me they slow down the film and don’t fit into the overall picture. The only extra scene that really adds to the conflict between Myers and Loomis is the one where Loomis begs the authorities to not let the hospital move Myers to another facility. His performance is compelling, and you can’t help but be convinced to stay tuned to watch the rest of the movie.
Being a die-hard fan yourself, do you purchase all the multiple special editions of Halloween that come out every few years? How many versions of the first film do you own?
Yes!! I don’t know how many versions I have, I just know that I bought everything. I remember the day that 2-tape VHS set came out. I was so excited to see those orange tapes and the collector’s key chain. And the release with the snow globe was like heaven for me. I have it on display in my living room to this day, and yes I do shake it from time-to-time to see the glitter blood floating around!
How do you feel about the numerous Halloween comic books that have come and gone in the past few years? Have or would you ever be interested in getting involved in one of those projects?
The comics are a great way to keep Myers alive in between movies! I worked with Stefan Hutchinson to get his comic “One Good Scare” made, and it was a very interesting journey that almost didn’t come to fruition. But it eventually did at the last minute and I’m glad because it went on to receive tons of fan and literary praise. And from what Stef tells me, a whole series is being planned for release later this year.
You are a writer and have written your own thriller screenplay called Chameleon. How’d the idea for that script come about? Are you still writing? And what kind of projects are you working on currently?
Chameleon centers on a man who cosmetically alters his face to re-enter the life of a woman he once knew to completely ruin her world right under her nose. Think about it, what if your brand new next-door neighbour was a friend of yours from the past who was hell-bent on making you pay dearly for something you did to him or her? Since their face is different you wouldn’t know it was the same person, so you’d probably become friends. And then – watch out for the onslaught, right? That’s what Chameleon is about. It explores the worst in human behavior, but it’s fun, too, and it won 2nd place in one of Script Magazine’s Open Door Contests. I’m quite proud of that! I’ve also written a ghost story called The Second Line with my friend Paul, and I have other completed scripts, too. I’m always working on something and have found that writing screenplays in the thriller genre is my passion. I am also working on a television documentary for the Halloween franchise that utilizes many clips of the footage we captured at the convention.
The films themselves have had effect, and the convention was just a place to bring everyone together. To say that I myself have affected fans may be going a little too far, but I do see how I’m intertwined with the series now than I was before. All I know is that when you put your heart into something and vow to not give up, good things can come from that. In the case of the convention, it’s obvious that the hard work paid off and made a lot of people happy. I’ve even had convention attendees write to me to say that the convention has inspired to do their own conventions, and even write screenplays.
I’ve even been sent exciting emails from fans who are starting their own Halloween websites. In no way did I feel as though I was being an example to people when I created my site or organized the convention, I was just doing stuff that I really wanted to do. But if my journeys are inspiring or have had some kind of effect, then that’s cool! If anyone wants to email me, they can get me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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