How Rob Zombie Got Roped Into Making Halloween II

Rob Zombie's "Halloween II" is arguably the musician-turned-movie director's best film to date. A singular entry among the already varied 12 existing movies in the "Halloween" franchise (soon to become 13 with the release of "Halloween Ends" this fall), "Halloween II" distills nearly everything great about Zombie's work in the horror genre into one movie: haunting surrealism, uncompromising brutality, grime-soaked characters, crass humor, and raw emotion.

Ironically, such a unique gift of a movie wouldn't have happened were it not for a set of circumstances that led to Zombie returning to make the sequel. His return was never a foregone conclusion, with Zombie seemingly saying all he wanted to say about Michael Myers with his distinctive 2007 remake of the 1978 John Carpenter classic. Yet the passage of time and a lucky encounter with a Weinstein Company executive were instrumental in Zombie returning to the streets of Haddonfield.

'Michael Myers is f***ing dead!': Zombie tries to leave Halloween behind

After completing "Halloween," Rob Zombie was ready to move on to other projects and leave any and all seasonal masked spree killers behind. In an interview given to Paul Fischer in 2009 on the eve of the release of "Halloween II," Zombie explained that he "was so burnt out after making 'Halloween.' 'Halloween' was a very difficult shoot. It was not particularly enjoyable. And the thought of doing anything 'Halloween' again just seemed like, no way."

Zombie held firm to his decision not to continue the franchise, at least at first. He made a point of stating his position during the press tour, where when interviewers would ask "are you going to do 'Halloween II'?," he would reply with a firm "no." Zombie also mentioned how he wasn't really pursued by the producers for the sequel, explaining:

"Weinstein Company didn't even ask me about it, because I was so clear that I didn't want to be part of it. And then – you know, actually I had heard they were making the movie with somebody else, so I didn't even think about it."

'Only a river of blood can bring us back together': Zombie returns to Haddonfield

However, Rob Zombie became less content with leaving "Halloween" behind as the years following completion of the first film went by. As he explained: "I was curious, because all the actors are my friends, and I was curious how things were going." Upon a chance encounter with an unnamed Weinstein Company executive, Zombie asked how filming was going, and the exec said: "We haven't even started yet. We don't even have a script. We don't even have an idea what to do."

Zombie considered coming back for the sequel:

"The idea of coming back to it seemed really interesting to me at that time. Because I had missed all the actors, and I really ... liked what we had started, and I really, at that point, wanted to continue it on."

With that, Zombie signed on to make "Halloween II." Incidentally, before David Gordon Green came along to make 2018's "Halloween" and its sequels, Zombie was the only director to helm two consecutive installments of the franchise, establishing a new precedent Green then followed (the only other director to come back for multiple Myers helpings, Rick Rosenthal of the original "Halloween II," returned 21 years and five entries later for "Halloween: Resurrection"). As Zombie himself observed, "it's very rare that the same director returns, with the same cast."

'Halloween is coming': Zombie makes a sequel into his masterpiece

Rob Zombie's approach to his "Halloween II" began with a similar path taken by John Carpenter and Debra Hill in their script for 1981's "Halloween II." However, his personal touch came with his insistence to "completely follow [the story] logically ... the events of the first film are pretty traumatic, are pretty big. What would be the outcome of the first film, and the lives of all the characters — and really follow it through, as a real dark, human drama."

Zombie's "Halloween II" sees the survivors of the fateful October night in Haddonfield from the first film psychologically shattered in their own ways, up to and including the killer himself, Michael Myers (Tyler Mane). The movie is pretty remarkable for a slasher sequel given its commitment to its characters and their trauma. Many slasher sequels find survivors demonstrating the aftereffects of their attacks, but few feature them having upsetting, raw, and dark therapy sessions like Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) does.

Zombie didn't confine his new approach to the sequel to just the tone and character, either. Thinking his first "Halloween" looked "a little too safe" and "a little bit claustrophobic," Zombie decided to go for "a different approach, just from the film stock to the lighting," in addition to wanting to open up the scope of the movie, a choice that can be seen in the film's varied number of locations and series of wide shots with an ominous, unsettling composition.

With all this, Zombie turned his "Halloween II" into a film he considered more his own, a movie he dubbed "the logical follow-up to 'Devil's Rejects.'" How you feel about Zombie's "Halloween II" likely has a lot to do with which version of the film you watch, as there are major differences between the theatrical and unrated director's cuts. Yet both versions are undeniably the work of Zombie, and both remain so unique within the "Halloween" franchise and slasher films in general that it's super lucky Zombie was roped back into the world of Michael Myers.