by Mike Schoonveld:
Stef Hutchinson, who wrote, produced and directed the 25 Years of Terror documentary is also the mastermind behind the very clever and well thought out Halloween comics. In the following interview, we talk about Stef attending conventions, the future of the comic series and what his absolute favorite Halloween film is as we look back at 35 Years of HALLOWEEN.
Mike Schoonveld: Stef, thank you so much for joining me as we look back at 35 Years of HALLOWEEN.
Stef Hutchinson: And thank you for asking me to be here!
MS: What inspired you to do comics to one of the most successful horror franchises?
SH: I’ve always got my fiction from either films or comic books. Both of them have been equally important to me as a viewer and a reader as long as I can remember, and I’ve always wanted to work in both of these mediums.
There had been Halloween comic books before mine, but they were set in the “Thorn” continuity. The Thorn continuity was a very big plot and story, whereas the original film wasn’t. The original Halloween was based around atmosphere and mood, and I thought it would be really interesting – and challenging – to attempt that style of storytelling in a different medium.
They’d started heading that way with Halloween: H20, which had dropped the previous three films from continuity in order to simplify the series, so we followed that path, although we went to a much darker place.
MS: Your comics brought new life to the series, starting with One Good Scare. What was the motivation/inspiration behind it?
SH: Oddly enough, the main inspiration was Halloween: Resurrection, which I actively loathed. It was the first time the series had really descended into self-parody, but without the humor.
When I first saw the original, back when I was a wee boy, I was genuinely traumatized. I wasn’t ready for it, and it left me terrified of the dark and haunted by constant nightmares. To go from that wonderful memory of terror, to the sight of Busta Rhymes electrocuting Myers in the nuts – well, it was the nearest thing I’ve experienced to cinematic molestation. It was just wrong in so many ways.
So the approach with One Good Scare was something of a restoration – a serious attempt to back to the terrifying approach of the original film, and Halloween II to some extent, and basically forget that Halloween: Resurrection ever happened.
MS: Sam Loomis has made several appearances in your comics, even one dedicated solely to him entitles, Sam. Why is his character so integral to the Myers story?
SH: I’ve always had a lot of love for the character. In many ways, he’s The Shape’s ultimate victim; the path of his life is formed as a response to the The Shape’s actions. It’s a game in many ways, and Loomis, be it by guilt, fear or duty, is bound to it. He’s a very tragic character, and I can’t help but be drawn to that.
While I’m not really fond of the middle trilogy of the Halloween films, I do enjoy watching Loomis in them. Donald Pleasence adds such depth to what could have been a simple, throwaway character.
The thing that really stands out with Loomis is that he should be the voice of reason. He’s a doctor – a man of science. However, something about The Shape has caused him to abandon all of his knowledge and replace it with a much more metaphysical stance. The Shape is beyond everything he has learned and it terrifies him. Loomis is important in establishing how The Shape crosses boundaries – science and magic, of life and death.
MS: Fans of your work have been waiting patiently for any new developments in the series. What can you tell us, if anything, about new comics in the near future?
SH: At this point, I don’t know what to say. They’ve been in limbo for so long, and there are many issues to resolve, that I can’t really give a worthwhile or credible answer to this. What I can say is that the whole line is planned out. About seven arcs in total, so we weren’t firing blind – there was a very specific path, and if you look carefully through the books that did come out, you can see it taking shape. We also had plans for a Sam Loomis solo series prior to the events of 1963, before he first met Michael Myers.
MS: Readers have also been wondering what happened to the third issue of The First Death of Laurie Strode. Anything you can say to the fans about that issue and whether it will see the light of day? Maybe even as a download?
SH: This is much more likely. It’s very possible we’ll have a way of getting it out in the near future. The script was completed five years ago, as was the majority of the artwork. It’s just a question of getting the funds together to finish the last few pages of artwork, and then do the coloring and the printing, etc. I’d like it to get out there because it’s a book I’m really proud of. I’m also a long-term comic reader myself and there’s nothing worse than an unfinished mini-series!
MS: Your 25 Years of Terror documentary was a big success and offered new insights into the films, the characters, set locations and Michael. Any plans for a 35th anniversary documentary?
SH: If there are, I’m not involved. I was never really happy with how 25 Years of Terror turned out, to be honest. It got meddled with, sadly, and it’s a fraction of what it could have been. In some ways it’s cool because we kinda set the template, but looking at the phenomenal work Dan Farrands, Andrew Kasch and Thommy Hutson have done with Never Sleep Again, its clear how much room for improvement there is.
MS: You’re also attending the biggest Halloween convention yet this November! That’s awesome! Have you ever done a convention before? What is the most enjoyable part of doing them?
SH: I’ve attended the two prior Halloween conventions, but the first one doesn’t really count because I was running around filming the event with my friends. Conventions aren’t really my thing – I like to remain hidden away as I’m a borderline hermit. That said, I like chatting with people who have read the books. The stories are a genuine pleasure for me to write, and being able to discuss them with readers is awesome.
MS: Have you ever been asked to write or direct a Halloween film? Would you jump at the opportunity if it came along?
SH: I have not been asked, no, and I doubt I will be. That being said, I’d be all over that opportunity. I wouldn’t so much jump as I would leap buildings in a single bound. I have a lot of ideas where the franchise could be taken, and they’re quite different from what I’ve done with the comics. No sense in doing the same thing twice!
MS: Why has Michael Myers remained one of the strongest villains in the horror genre?
SH: That’s a tough one, because I’m not sure if he is, really. I don’t think we have any one character in the genre that rises above the rest. What I do believe is that the sheer void of the character – the nothingness – has allowed for many different interpretations. I think it’s the flexibility that has allowed the character – or at the very least, the concept, to endure. We’re at a stage now, where the door is open for endless new interpretations. I find that the character is at his strongest when he’s blur, a mystery. When things get too specific, he becomes less ethereal, and for me, less effective.
MS: You’re absolutely right. It becomes self-parody and not effective. What Halloween film is your absolute favorite?
SH: The original, hands down. It’s not just a good film for the genre – it’s a cinematic masterpiece that demonstrates an effortless understanding of the medium. Nothing comes close.
MS: Stef, thank you so much for joining me and DarkMedia as we look back at 35 Years of HALLOWEEN.
SH: My pleasure!
DarkMedia contributor Mike Schoonveld covers mainly movies, and there’s nothing that gets his blood going like a good horror film, old and new. When he’s not writing or watching horror, you can find him catching re-runs of television shows like I Love Lucy, The Simpsons, and Reba, among many. Last year, Mike was able to flex his writing muscles by submitting a screenplay to the Shriekfest Film and Screenplay festival where he was a finalist for “Best Feature Screenplay.” While he didn’t win, that hasn’t stopped him from pushing forward to establish a screenwriting career in horror. You can follow Mike on Twitter at @horrorguy30, Stage32.com and you can check out his blog at horrorguy30.blogspot.com.
Mike is currently working on two scripts: Slicer: The Sauk County Massacre (formerly titled Hell Weekend) and The Haunting of Willow Falls Manor.