In the time between the releases of ‘Halloween: Resurrection’ in 2002 and Rob Zombie’s remake of ‘Halloween’ in 2007, the father-son duo of Moustapha and Malek Akkad of Trancas International had commissioned several writers to pitch and draft the ninth installment of the franchise that begun with John Carpenter’s now-classic horror film from 1978.
While ‘Resurrection’ hadn’t exactly been a box office failure, it didn’t manage to capture the success of the previous installment, ‘Halloween: H20’, and it isn’t exactly a fan favorite in this long running franchise. In fact, without a definitive direction in sight, they eventually turned to the fans with a poll on the official Halloween movies website with a slew of options asking the fans which direction they would like the franchise to take (a testament to how much the fans mean to the Akkad’s). Also, at this point the executives at Dimension Films had their sights set on capitalizing on the success of New Line Cinema’s ‘Freddy vs. Jason’, and suggested doing a crossover between ‘Halloween’ and ‘Hellraiser’ called ‘Helloween’. The Akkad’s were not interested in this idea, and a poll was posted to the official Halloween website asking fans if this is something that they would want. The fan reaction was divisive, as out of 84,427 votes, 46% voted Yes while 54% voted No (I was one of people to vote no – and ironically enough I learned afterwards that Clive Barker agreed to write it and that John Carpenter agreed to direct it – had I known this beforehand, I would have voted yes.) and the idea was then scrapped.
They had then moved forward with several pitches for the ninth installment until the tragic deaths of Moustapha Akkad and his 34-year-old daughter Rima Akkad Monla, who were killed in the triple hotel bombing in Amman, Jordan. Moustapha and his daughter had been attending a wedding at the time terrorist bombed the hotel on November 11th, 2005. After grieving, Malek Akkad made the decision to go with Rob Zombie’s pitch for a remake instead of doing ‘Halloween 9’, believing that it was best to leave the first eight films as his father’s legacy and to move forward with his own.
One of the unproduced scripts considered for a potential Halloween 9 prior to Moustapha’s death was from a pair of British screenwriters named Dudi Appleton and Jim Keeble. This script, called ‘Halloween 9: Retribution’, was intended as being a sequel to ‘Halloween: Resurrection’ and carrying on with the timeline from ‘Halloween: H20’.
So how was this script? Well I’m a little mixed on it. I liked some of it, and thought it probably would have been a better film than ‘Halloween: Resurrection’, but ultimately it feels sluggish and devoid of a pulse. There was nothing that felt energetic and got me excited when reading it; However, considering that what I read was only a first draft, I’m sure dialogue and characterization would have improved with future drafts had they settled on this story. Again though, there were things that I felt worked and didn’t work – I’d say there was definitely potential – just not enough.
The script, labeled “First Draft 2/20/04”, begins at Smith’s Grove on Halloween night in 1964. A colleague of Dr. Loomis named Dr. Hill visits with young Michael Myers, believing that no one is beyond retribution. A Nurse named Spence disagrees with this, knowing very well that the young boy locked in a cell is pure evil and is deserving of being locked away. Dr. Hill is left in a room with Michael, whose eyes are described as being black, as he tries to reach the child, attempting to get him to be responsive by encouraging him to draw with colored pencils. Instead, Michael looks at Dr. Hill with his black eyes and stabs his own hand with a colored pencil. This freaks Dr. Hill, and as he reacts to this, Michael grabs a hold of him with his other hand. There is a struggle as Dr. Hill screams for help, and Nurse Spence and other orderlies arrive to free Dr. Hill from Michael’s grip. Unknowing to any of them, somehow, Michael steals Dr. Hill’s horn-rimmed glasses. We then go to fifteen years later, to the night that Michael escapes from Smith’s Grove in 1978. An older Nurse Spence visits Michael, informing him that she is retiring and gloating about how Dr. Loomis is going to be bringing him before the state board to keep him locked up for the rest of his life. But then, as she turns to leave, Michael makes a noise which stops Nurse Spence in her tracks. She goes back towards him attempting to get him to speak again, but then it’s revealed that Michael had made a blade out of the glasses he stole fifteen years earlier and sliced through his straitjacket, freeing himself. He kills Nurse Spence and then wanders the hospital, even at one point going to the files on him. We then see him driving away in Loomis’s station wagon.
The story then shifts to present day 2004 where we meet the lead female protagonist, Lea, who is on a small getaway with the family of her friend, Tonya, whom she’s been estranged from for a while now. Here its established that the road to the cabin leads past the now abandoned Smith’s Grove Hospital, which comes into play later on in the script.
Meanwhile at a local university, Freddie Harris is promoting his new book which boasts about how he defeated fear and killed Michael Myers. As Freddie signs autographs, he is approached by a man who is revealed to be John Tate. John questions Freddie about Michael’s demise, not believing that it is true. Freddie, however insists that Michael is indeed deceased. Later, as Freddie leaves, he takes notice that his tires have been slashed. Just then a campus security SUV pulls up. Freddie approaches asking for help, but doesn’t get a response. It’s revealed that a campus security officer is dead in the passenger seat and Michael is behind the wheel. Michael backs the SUV up and while Freddie gets the jack out from his trunk, Michael steps out of the vehicle. Michael knocks Freddie down with a nightstick, but Freddie recovers and pulls a gun out. He insists that it can’t be Michael, and demands that the person in front of him to remove the mask. But before Freddie can fire the gun, Michael knocks Freddie down again, causing him to drop the gun. Freddie and Michael get in a short scuffle, as Michael tightens his grip on Freddie’s throat. Freddie fights back briefly, telling Michael that he is not afraid of him. Michael then forces his knife into Freddie’s chest, killing him.
Later on, John finds Freddie’s body and notices the campus security vehicle approaching and then coming to a stop. John goes to the SUV, but notices that something isn’t right. He knows that Michael is behind the wheel and as he reaches for the door handle, Michael steps on the gas and drives away.
Contradicting the first present day scene with the characters on their way to the cabin, we’re re-introduced to Lea and Tonya, as well as many of their friends and classmates – while most of these characters appear throughout the story, none of them are particularly interesting or distinct. Aside from the faceless and pointless characters that only exist within this story for the sake of body count, we’re introduced to Darrel, an edge lord loner pegged to be a potential mass shooter by his peers who continue to give him shit; we’re also introduced to Jenny, who is the daughter of the Sheriff, and then later on we’re introduced to Lea’s younger brother, Noah, who is a mute and communicates with sign language. Lea, Darrel, Jenny and Noah are the only four teenagers to give a shit about, while the rest are obnoxious and useless.
With the holiday of Halloween banned in the town of Haddonfield, and a curfew in effect, the teens concoct a plan to sneak away and have a Halloween party at Tonya’s family cabin. Lea agrees to go as long as she can bring along her little brother.
Meanwhile, John visits his mother’s grave.
The following day, as the teens gather in a van for their trip, John stands outside of the plot of land that the Myers house once stood on prior to the fire at the end of ‘Resurrection’. Here John is approached by Sheriff Shaw, who doesn’t recognize him at first. Shaw threatens to haul John’s ass to jail if he doesn’t move along, but then he recognizes him after seeing some ID and offers his condolences, as he apparently went to school with Laurie back in the day. John mentions that he believes Michael is still alive, but Sheriff Shaw is convinced that Michael is dead and politely asks John to go home.
As the teenagers make their way to the cabin, the van suddenly breaks down as they near the abandoned hospital. Tonya and her boyfriend run off into the woods to boink, despite the frigid temperature, however in the middle of their trip to pound town they discover a woman’s body buried in the leaves, which naturally kills the mood. Meanwhile, Lea wanders around the woods looking for Noah and runs into Darrel who is hanging around with a crossbow – this begs the question of how he got here without an automobile, considering the distance between Haddonfield and Smith’s Grove as established in the original John Carpenter film – and their small talk is interrupted by Tonya’s naked boyfriend who runs towards them urgently. All of the teens gather at the spot where the body was discovered, but the body is now missing, and nobody believes Tonya or her boyfriend about the body – and it’s never mentioned again. Darrel manages to fix the van, but at this point the frigid weather breaks into a pre-winter blizzard of snow and sleet and the van can’t make it in these conditions. The group of teenagers decide to take shelter in the abandoned hospital instead. One of the teens attempts to reach out to local authorities to help with their situation, but because of the storm they’re told to sit tight.
Back in Haddonfield, John is researching Michael Myers when he’s approached by Leigh Brackett, who also isn’t satisfied with the theory that Michael had died and provides John with newspaper clippings regarding the situation at the morgue that occurred the night Michael’s body was brought in. Brackett believes that Michael is alive and still killing, and is responsible for multiple unsolved murders that have been happening in the state. They both know that Michael will return home, to Haddonfield, but with the Myers house burned to the ground, the question remains of where.
As John continues his investigation, the teens wander around the abandoned hospital, and frankly these scenes are not very interesting, at least to me. Eventually the teens are stalked and killed one by one by Michael, and at first Darrel is blamed for what’s happening although both Lea and her brother don’t buy it.
John visits of the home of Dr. Hill and discovers his dead body in the living room, and then leaves the scene. He then ventures to the home of another colleague of Loomis and Hill, where he talks to the man’s widowed wife. Here she mentions how the treatment of the patients at Smith’s Grove haunted her husband up until the day he was murdered. John then figures out that Michael must be at Smith’s Grove, his secondary home. John tries to contact the police department who has jurisdiction of the area that the institution resides on, but the police believe that this is nothing more than a prank. They inform John that there are people stuck up in the area and that due to the storm they were instructed to stay put, and they advise John to do the same as the road isn’t safe to travel. John then contacts Brackett asking for his help, hoping that Brackett’s position as a former Sheriff would help convince the police to do something, but Brackett doesn’t respond at first and their phone call ends.
Now, if there’s something that I really liked about this script, it would be the treatment of Brackett. After the phone conversation between him and John ends, we get to see how Brackett is affected by that night in 1978, not only because he lost his daughter, but also because of his guilt. The conversations between Brackett and Loomis from 1978 play as voice over and highlight his sense of guilt for not taking Loomis seriously, and that his lack of action on that night lead to his greatest tragedy. He goes to his basement to get his gun and old badge, and then goes to see Sheriff Shaw. Shaw offers sympathy towards Brackett, just believing that this night is a difficult one for him due to his loss twenty-five years earlier, and suggests that Brackett just go home. Brackett, however, plays into this, as he sneakily steals the keys to Shaw’s cruiser. Brackett hops into the cruiser and takes off towards Smith’s Grove.
Back at the former hospital, as the surviving teens try to keep themselves hidden from Michael, they come across old video footage of Loomis’s sessions with young Michael, as well as a bunch of files on Michael that they rummage through. After once again being attacked by Michael, resulting in Darrel’s death, the remaining teens flee and hide elsewhere; and then, in a move taken directly out of a ‘Friday the 13th’ movie, Lea realizes that she looks like Judith and trims her hair (although I don’t call Judith having short hair), and then speaks to Michael as if she is Judith to lead him away from her brother and Jenny, and thus begins a long chase through the tunnels below Smith’s Grove.
Brackett and John meet up outside of Smith’s Grove and venture inside. They find Noah and Jenny, and Brackett stays with them as John searches for Lea in the tunnels below. Brackett does eventually come face to face with Michael and attempts to shoot him for revenge over Annie, but the gun jams and Michael walks away from him, continuing his pursuit of John and Lea. Eventually John is wounded by Michael, but him and Lea escape through a tunnel that leads them outside of the building. They tumble down a snow-covered embankment, and John is momentarily knocked unconscious. Brackett, Noah and Jenny venture outside, and just as Michael attempts to lunge at Lea, Noah musters up a scream to warn her. She avoids the killing blow, but Michael does get a grip on her arm, preventing her from getting away. Just as he brings up his knife with his free hand, he is distracted by a shout from John. John then throws his ax through the air and it connects with Michael’s chest, causing Michael to tumble further down the embankment. Michael does get back up, removing the ax from his chest, but then there is a crack beneath him, and ice gives way, causing Michael to fall into the water below, and he becomes trapped beneath the ice.
As the survivors approach the ice for a glimpse and confirmation that Michael is finally dead, Michael punches through the ice and grabs John, pulling him into the water below. Eventually John reemerges with Michael’s mask, and Lea suggests that John get rid of it because it’s evil, but John is compelled to hold onto it, and looks at it with black eyes.
Overall, I don’t want to judge this script too harshly, as it is only a first draft. I have no doubt that if they had moved forward with this, certain characters and scenes would be omitted, some characters would be blended together, dialogue and kills would be punched up, etc. I do think this would have been a good start, as a blue print, for what the movie could have been, and I do think that there is some potential with it. I think that there are moments in this script, particularly with the teenaged characters, that felt more ‘Friday the 13th’ than ‘Halloween’, and as such, this script feels a little out of place within the series. I liked the return of John Tate and Leigh Brackett, and feel that they were the strongest points of this story, and I also enjoyed how much of a presence that Loomis has within the story between being named-dropped throughout and the long-lost video footage of his early sessions with young Michael. To me, he is one of this franchises’ most significant characters, and with Smith’s Grove being the primary setting, I feel that it was fitting to include so much emphasis on him.
One thing I can take away from this script is this: at least it’s better than ‘Resurrection’.
You can read the script for ‘Halloween: Retribution’ here: