If anyone knows the HALLOWEEN franchise, that person is Justin Beahm. The guy’s a walking encyclopedia of all things Michael Myers-related, and is currently writing the definitive book on the series, Halloween: The Complete Authorized History, which from the sound of it, is gearing up to be one hell of a read. Justin was nice enough to chat with ICONS OF FRIGHT, and talked everything from the book to his thoughts on where the series should go next. Check it out!
Writing the definitive book on the HALLOWEEN series is a huge undertaking, what inspired you to take it on?
The whole thing started several years ago, I think four years ago, when I was working on an article for Fangoria Magazine on the HALLOWEEN 4-6 story arc. I’ve always been kind of fascinated by that, and the series as a whole has always had such an interesting history and has been continuously reborn, and pulled from the ashes. HALLOWEEN 4 was such a huge success, and it’s always intrigued me how that triggered two very unusual sequels for a film franchise like this. So that was the angle on my article, and I started talking to various people associated with those films, writers, directors and producers and stuff. I ended up talking with Malek (Akkad, son of late HALLOWEEN producer Moustapha Akkad) who is the producer of the HALLOWEEN franchise. Malek and I hit it off really well and started talking about some other things and one thing led to another and I’d say six months after that, I presented the idea to him and said “You know, nobody’s ever done a definitive book on the series, have you ever been approached?”, and he said “I’m approached all of the time, there are so many offers that I get but it’s never felt right”. After we talked a bit, he asked me to prepare something and show him what I was thinking and I put together a proposal and he dug it, and the rest is history. He instantly was very positive about the idea and we just started moving on from there.
How has the process been so far, have there been any big roadblocks or has it gone pretty smoothly?
It’s been smooth for the most part, but this is huge like you acknowledged. Ten films over decades, and over the course of the history of the series, because it’s changed hands so many times, it’s very tangled in terms of the rights and even down to image licensing. It was definitely not a clean cut project to walk into and say “hey, hand me that box of images”, you really have to search and go digging and make your way through various layers of channels in order to get what I want for this. That’s probably the most challenging part. On the other side of that, everybody who has been involved so far, and everyone that I have in queue, to speak with down the road has been absolutely wonderful, very positive and are thrilled that this is finally being done. So from here, I’m just going to do my best to deliver something worthy of the fans and all of these amazing people who have had a hand in this story franchise.
Has John Carpenter been involved in any capacity thus far?
John is very involved, and he’s been a big supporter of it since I first approached him about it and has been very generous with his time and other efforts and stuff like that. I can’t say too much at this point but I will say that John’s very much involved.
Awesome. Another thing I was curious about, is A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET has the NEVER SLEEP AGAIN doc, and FRIDAY THE 13TH is working on the CRYSTAL LAKE MEMORIES doc, do you have any interest in making a definitive documentary on the HALLOWEEN franchise to go along with your book, or are you drawing the line with the book?
That’s a great question. What actually kind of led the charge in a way for those documentaries WAS a HALLOWEEN documentary, the 25 YEARS OF TERROR one that came out a few years ago but the deal with that obviously it’s a lot different in structure because it’s mostly convention footage and the was the heart and the genesis of that project. You could only get so deep with the materials they had and so on and so forth. I think it is time for a full length documentary, that’s something we’re definitely throwing around, as a possibility here. The CRYSTAL LAKE MEMORIES documentary was obviously born from that book, by Peter Bracke, which is a fantastic book, it should be on every horror fan’s shelf.
Yeah definitely, it’s amazing.
..and everyone involved on that production is top notch, I’m really happy about that, because the other one, HIS NAME WAS JASON was similar to 25 YEARS OF TERROR in that they only had so much to work with and so on and so forth, so it’s nice that they’re finally doing something definitive with that… and MAN, the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET documentary is second to none right now…that’s really fantastic. So, to answer your question, it is something we’ve discussed and is something I’d love to do and tackle, it is still very much a possibility.
Being a fan of the series yourself, and also being close to the franchise, where would YOU prefer they go with the next HALLOWEEN installment?
(Laughs). It’s obviously still in development, the next film, and the direction of the franchise is still up in the air in terms of what the next step is going to be, but I will say that it’s being VERY VERY carefully considered, it’s not something that’s being handled flippantly or anything like that. Everyone involved realizes how important this next step is, I mean the last two films were incredibly successful, and I mentioned earlier the “rebirth” of the franchise because after HALLOWEEN 3, the series kind of tanked, and after part 6 it sent it south a little bit in terms of reception and box office. HALLOWEEN H20 was the nice “rise” of the franchise and after HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION took kind of a weird turn, it was Rob’s HALLOWEEN that brought it back. So now we’re at the point where the last two films really performed strongly at the box office, and made almost 200 million dollars between the two of them. It’s a pivotal moment for what happens next, and we’re very much taking that into consideration. Now, taking off my Trancas hat, and speaking as a fan, I can see this going any number of directions. I’ve longed said it would be fun to see what happened before the original HALLOWEEN, because you have a lot of territory there with Michael as a teenager, when he was institutionalized. The novelization, the Curtis Richards book explored a little bit of that, his time is Smith’s Grove. I would also like to know more about Dr. Loomis, when he was younger. As much of a core to the story as he is, we never really get to explore him. You get a glimpse in part four, when he’s in the truck with Reverend Sayer, and they’re having the “you’re hunting it, aint ya?” conversation and you see Loomis smile and just the way he interacts and lets down his guard a little it, I wanted more of that. I’d love to see further exploration of Loomis, especially as a younger man…and then, if it had to pick up after Rob’s second film (H2), which I can’t imagine would be possible because everyone is dead, I would love to see more of Brad Dourif as Sheriff Brackett. I wouldn’t mind seeing him take Laurie under his wing, if we were to consider the theatrical version the definitive of the two, where she allegedly does live. I could see him taking her under his wing, and they could go off and try to get their lives back together, and have Michael find them and then who knows. I could see it picking up any number of places.
One thing that’s really impressive to me, and also a lot of other people, is how often you have online Q&A’s with the fans of the series. Is it important to you to have that connection with them?
Absolutely, I’m so glad you said that man. I grew up as a fan of the series too, and I’ve gone through the years where the website wouldn’t be updated for months at a time, and when I stepped in, I want to say it had been several years maybe since the website had anything really done on it…and that’s really frustrating as a fan, especially with a series that has so much material out there, there’s always new interviews, and other stuff, so there was a sense of removal between the fans and the source of the series. When I stepped into my role here, one of the very first things I wanted to tackle, and I was coming into this as a fan, I really wanted to make sure there was transparency there, that there were open lines of communication. We wanted to make sure we were not only acknowledging the fans and showing our gratitude for their support, but also taking their input in. It is important to me that we listen to every voice out there, and that everybody has the chance to ask whatever question they want, and I’m an open book about this stuff. If something’s off limits, I’ll say it, “ya know, I can’t really talk about that yet” or something, but for the most part, I’m thrilled. In fact I’m doing another one of those tomorrow night, I do one once a month.
Will the book or the HALLOWEEN franchise in general have any form of presence at anyupcoming conventions, like Days of the Dead, or Monsterpalooza?
I’ve been doing a few of them, but it’s been kind of sneaky in a way. Like I’ll be scheduled to be there, but not a huge presence…just yet. I really wanted to feel it out a little. I did Horror Hound in Indianapolis, they wanted me there because Jamie Lee (Curtis) was going to be there, back in November. So I was there, and we were in a room with a bunch of other HALLOWEEN people and it was great to meet everyone, that was really the first show that I had done in that capacity. It was incredible, so I am doing Horror Hound in Ohio next month and in April I’m doing Days of the Dead in Los Angeles, but there I’m going to be at the Fangoria booth I think. There are several more that I’m doing this year, we really wanted the franchise to have a presence out there and have a chance to get that face to face with the fans. The online thing is great, but nothing beats taking the time and hanging out with the fans, and talking shop..it’s the best.
Are there any other films or franchises that you’d be interested in writing about in the future?
As far as franchises, there isn’t anything else like that which I’d want to tackle. HALLOWEEN is it for me as far as these big monolith cornerstone series of films. I honestly don’t think I’d have the heart to pour into any other franchise like I do with this one. That being said, I write for three different magazines: Fangoria, Horror Hound and Famous Monsters of Filmland. Each one of them serves a different part of the community of fans, so it’s neat to have all three, there’s a diversity in what I can approach. Every article I write, is written on something I’m passionate about, I don’t take assignments, and I don’t do reviews. I just write and do retrospectives and features on things that are very close to my heart. I really want to continue doing that and the biggest reason why I pick any of these films as subject matter is because it’s something I want to read about myself and wouldn’t likely have found much information on it elsewhere. That leaves millions of other films for me to explore, there’s so much out there…so yeah there are going to be more books. I’m in talks with another publisher to do more titles genre-related.
Right on, well I definitely appreciate you taking the time to chat, we’re looking forward to the book.
Absolutely man, thank you for your interest. Thanks so much for your time Jerry.
For updates on Halloween: The Complete Authorized History and any other projects that Justin has in the works, check out the following links:
And be sure to catch Justin’s monthly Q&A on Wednesday, Feb. 20th at 7PM PST. For more info, check out Justin’s TWITTER PAGE.