Slight spoiler warning, although I hope most of you dear Bloody Disgusting readers have seen the new Halloween by now.
While the movie is a monster hit, it wasn’t the easiest road to the big screen. In fact, Miramax, Trancas, Universal Pictures, and Blumhouse’s Halloween was shut down just days before production to go under a series of rewrites. After finally going behind cameras, the film would go back for a series of reshoots leading up to the October release. There were even reports that one of the test screenings went poorly. Hardcore horror fans caught wind of a lot of this and went into a fevered panic, although we attempted to downplay the severity of reshoots. It really does depend on the movie and the situation, but Blumhouse is notorious for allowing filmmakers to go back and fix up their project. This is not a bad thing. In fact, in Blumhouse’s case, this is the norm and one way they’re able to tweak a film to make it even better.
We can go back and forth on this all day, but I found a revealing quote from director David Gordon Green that gives the perfect representation as to why a test screening can be so important to a film’s impact and success. An interview at the LA Times takes us back to the TIFF World Premiere where Michael Myers was first unleashed on audiences. Outside of child actor Jibrail Nantambu stealing the show, Judy Greer‘s triumphant “gotcha” one-liner caused the theater to erupt. It was so loud that the audience couldn’t hear Jamie Lee Curtis’ “Happy Halloween, Michael” line.
“I’ll tell you an interesting thing … it’s about editing and test screenings. Test screenings are beautiful because you can know how to move things around for those types of audience responses.”
I know this is a long article to deliver a single point, but us horror fans are very protective of our genre and how the films are made. I think it’s so important that we occasionally have these conversations to understand that not all “failed” test screenings are bad and neither are all reshoots. Because of the process, Green was able to deliver one of the biggest crowd-pleasing horror moments of the year.
Funny enough, the lack of testing actually hurt the delivery of Curtis’ final zinger.
“I’d never tested that line because I thought it was like, ‘Oh, is that too much?’ And then the last change we made in our picture cutting was to add that line back in,” Green revealed. “Then the result is that you don’t hear it because we put it in the wrong place. It’s got its own charm as obviously people will watch the movie in different environments without necessarily a ruckus. It’s in there.”
You gotta love Green giving some deep insight into the filmmaking process and admitting to where it works and how it goes wrong. These are the kind of stories that make you appreciate the process and how much work goes into making a movie “just right”.
Halloween is going to make a killing again this weekend.