Though the Halloween series has split off into many different timelines over the decade, there remain only three entries in this eleven-film franchise that hold no direct connection to the 1978 original: 1982’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch, and the two divisive releases from director Rob Zombie.
So perhaps it’s only fitting that Malcolm McDowell, star of 2007’s Halloween and 2009’s Halloween II, never saw the classic first film, and still hasn’t to this day. McDowell assumed the role of Dr. Samuel Loomis, a part previously made famous by the late Donald Pleasence, but when he was asked at the recent Scare-A-Con in New York whether he took any influence from his predecessor’s performance in the John Carpenter-helmed original, the actor offered a surprising answer.
“No, I never saw it, still haven’t,” he said. “I have never seen the original Halloween….I did ask Rob whether I should see it and he went, ‘No. You can see it afterwards.’ Now, I did know Donald Pleasence enough to have a drink with him in a pub, and I always was very entertained by him. He was a lovely man and a wonderful actor; I’ve seen him in many other things. He was a great stage actor, and actor full stop, and he was a very cultured man….So I was thrilled to be asked to carry on in his footsteps, but I wasn’t at all influenced by him since I didn’t see it. I can imagine what he did, because there was nobody that played that sort of menacing character as well as he did. I mean, it was just inherent. He played Blofeld in one of the Bond films. God almighty!”
Regardless of whether you think McDowell could’ve stood to take a few pointers from Pleasence, the approach makes a fair amount of sense. By not seeing what a Dr. Loomis performance was ‘supposed’ to look like, McDowell was essentially free to offer a version of the character that was wholly his own, rather than a mere impression of what came before. And in a pair of movies that very much set out to do Halloween differently, the fact that the new Loomis was no throwback certainly seems in line with the intent.
After Zombie and McDowell’s two-film run in the series, David Gordon Green’s new Halloween served as a return to a more traditional approach to the property, with Jamie Lee Curtis reprising her role as the original Laurie Strode in a story that continued on from the 1978 original. And while the Zombie era for the series remains polarizing to this day, at least the director is still proud of his distinctive reimagining of this long-running horror franchise.