As far as I can tell, Rob Zombie is killing the Halloween franchise, and it seems like he’s doing it on purpose. He seemed to be trying to do it at the end of his 2007 remake, when he had Laurie Strode shoot Michael Myers in the face, a fairly final-feeling ending for the masked slasher. And now that he’s been brought back to the series for H2 he seems to be trying to do it through sheer force of will. From everything we have seen and been told so far, Zombie has wrestled the Halloween franchise away from where it had been for about 10 films or so and dragged it into the trailer park where he usually operates. Now, with H2, he seems to have fully slathered his hillbilly cooties on Myers et al. Looking at the footage from this film it seems obvious that any filmmaker attempting H3 would either have to operate within Zombie’s paradigm or completely reboot the franchise AGAIN (note that the franchise already rebooted during the regular numbered days, when the really weird middle entries, featuring all kinds of Druids and stuff, just got ignored, as did the supposed off-screen death of Laurie).
Is that a bad thing?
The question has to be answered through the prism through which you view franchises. Do you see a franchise as a long series of films that essentially maintain a status quo, or do you see them as a series of Exquisite Corpse stories, where one filmmaker hands things off to the next guy, and we get to see where the next guy takes it from there? Halloween has, in many ways, always felt like a status quo series, even when The Thorn and all that jazz was brought in. Friday the 13th, on the other hand, has always been an Exquisite Corpse series to some extent (although nobody could figure out how to pick up from Jason Takes Manhattan, so they just ignored it).
The producers of Halloween certainly don’t care; Dimension told Zombie back on the first Halloween that all they wanted was the title and a dude named Michael Myers. They didn’t even care if the mask showed up (which means its eventual disappearance in this film shouldn’t be surprising). John Carpenter, who created the franchise, most certainly doesn’t give a shit as long as his residuals keep showing up. So it’s just up to us, the fans.
It’s interesting how we can get so much more attached to a series than the creators or rights holders. I’m not even a huge Halloween fan and I find it kind of offensive that Zombie has no use for the traditional music; that score is just as much part of how I define Halloween as Myers and the Shape mask. I think in many ways this is at the heart of how we react to a franchise that takes a sudden left turn; there’s a feeling of anger at a filmmaker who appears to be saying that he knows better than the fans what would make a great movie.
Of course Halloween is a tough example to use here. The third film was an attempt to turn the franchise into an anthology, after all, so this series has a history of being all over the place. And it’s a series that devolved into a number of truly terrible films, movies that I think have almost no redeeming value besides the hulking figure at their center.
But the question remains! What is the debt a filmmaker owes to a franchise? Should he come in and respect what has come before and try to build on that, or should he be coming in and bringing his own vision (this is also where Halloween makes a tough example. Zombie is obviously bringing his own vision. Sadly, his vision is bad)? Is it more important to remain faithful to the tone and themes of the series to date or is it more important to make your own mark, and to do something that’s interesting, even if it goes against the grain of the rest of the franchise?
And what about killing a franchise? Is it allowable to bring a franchise down a dead end alley if you think you’re telling the best possible story? Or should a filmmaker always approach a franchise with the idea that someone else will have to be taking over the reins next?