The seventh entry in the Halloween franchise opened in theaters on August 5, 1998, and Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later would immediately become one of the most popular and controversial sequels in horror’s most hallowed series of films.
It brought on the welcome return of Jamie Lee Curtis as an older, tougher Laurie Strode, letting the Myers side of her character out for the first time when she grabs an axe and screams, “MICHAEL”, effectively picking up where the sorely missed Donald Pleasance left off as The Shape’s longtime nemisis Dr. Loomis.
It also gave horror fans the ultimate mother-daughter scream queen moment in one remarkable scene uniting Curtis with her real life mom Janet Leigh, who starred as Marion Crane in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Psycho; while unceremoniously wiping the previous three movies (Halloween 4, 5 and 6) out of canonical existence, presenting what is basically an alternate storyline to that presented in the “thorn trilogy”.
It was the first Halloween film to open in the summer, and it was so successful that every other one since has also been released during summer.
We recently caught up with Adam Hann-Byrd, who plays Charlie Deveraux in Halloween H20, for a lengthy and candid chat about his memories from the set of H20, the legacy of Halloween, and coming face to face with Michael Myers.
Click here for Part 1, and then read on for Part 2 of our interview with Halloween H20 star Adam Hann-Byrd!
“As a kid, my father would take me to see everything,” Adam recalls of his first scary movie experiences. “He would take me to see horror movies, even when I was pretty young. At times I would sort of censor myself, and I’d go ‘Dad, am I going to be able to handle this?’
“I grew up in the ‘80s, and a lot of even those kids movies had horror elements to them, which is a genre that’s lacking today. You don’t really see many children’s horror or fantasy movies like Labyrinth or Dark Crystal or even something like The Temple of Doom, which had some very strong horror elements. So I’ve always loved horror movies.
“I was very familiar with the first Halloween and the second Halloween. Some of the sequels I hadn’t seen at the time (of filming H20). Of course I’ve gone back and watched them.
“Also, when this came about, I think Jamie Lee Curtis’ vision was very much that it was going to be the third in what she envisioned as a trilogy with (parts) 1, 2, and then H20.
“That’s something I think we were all very conscious of while we were making H20, that she really did see it as the sort of trifecta.”
Adam tells us that the fact that H20 marked the return of Curtis to the role that made her famous 20 years prior was not lost on anyone in the cast, as everyone on set felt that this was to be something more special than the average slasher sequel.
“She was very hands on,” he says of Curtis. “She’s a force. I love Jamie Lee Curtis.
“I think it’s a big deal to have Jamie coming back 20 years later to the role that really put her on the map, and the fact that she envisioned this as a cap to the first two. We were all really excited to be a part of that and part of the legacy.
“That was one of the other really big factors in wanting to do this project. ‘Holy crap, I get to work with Jamie Lee Curtis.’ That was just so exciting to me, let alone her mom too, but that came later.
“I was on set quite a bit and it was just such a blast to get to work on that project. To get to see two of the legends in action was pretty mind boggling and such a unique, special experience.”
In addition to the obvious thrill of watching Curtis and Leigh at work together, Adam said he found other fun ways to pass the time on set when he was not on screen.
“We shot part of it in Los Angeles, and the other part we shot for a bit at Universal Studios, which was really, really fun,” he said. “A lot of the stuff we did at Universal was the kitchen scene, so I had this big prosthetic head gash for a couple hours, and I used to just walk around the back lot with my neck slashed.
“Actually the studio tram ride would let off right at our stage, and they would come around every five minutes and I would come running out with my prosthetic neck slashed and stumble up and try to grab tourists. They just all thought it was part of show, but I had a blast. It was great.
“Any time I’d get in line for lunch all covered in blood, people would kind of fan out around me and give me plenty of space.
“It (the set) was also right next to the Jurassic Park ride, so that music was going on all day long, but at lunch the crew and I would go ride it. One time this guy was actually looking from the Jurassic Park ride into the back lot, so I went up and stumbled up to him with my neck all bloody. I said, ‘Excuse me Sir, I just got a really nasty paper cut. Do you know where I can find a doctor?’ He just kind of looked at me and turned pale white.
“We’d all be sitting in our trailers and that (Jurassic Park) music would just be going on all day long.
“I got ahold of a golf cart, and I’m a big fan of driving around back lots on a golf cart, especially when I was kid without a license. So we’re on the Universal lot and I’m just flooring this golf cart, and little did I realize they were doing the South Park movie right next to us on the stage next door.
“Matt Stone was sitting right his trailer steps sketching Cartman or whatever, and I come whirling around this corner and just slammed on the brakes and came within inches of killing Matt Stone. He was pissed, and rightfully so, and shocked to look up from his sketch pad and see this bloody guy that almost killed him with a golf cart.
“Thankfully, it was all good. I didn’t hit him, the South Park movie got made, and all was right with the world.”
Of all the Halloween films, H20 boasts perhaps the most impressive assortment of post-Haddonfield credits for many of the movie’s stars, from Oscar nominee Michelle Williams (Molly) to Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Jimmy), Josh Hartnett (John Tate) and Jodi Lyn O’Keefe (Sarah), and Adam remembers that they were all beyond excited to be part of the franchise.
“Everybody on that project was really great to work with,” said Adam. “It was Josh’s first movie, which is really wild. We got along very well. Michelle was great. I think now I have randomly worked with every person on Dawson’s Creek.
“Everyone was really great to work with. There was good camaraderie. I think a lot of that came from Jamie Lee Curtis sort of rallying the troops.
“I think everyone was just so excited to be a part of something so special with Jamie coming back. I think we all knew what we had, and that was really special to all of us.
“Jodi Lynn O’Keefe was great too. That was a really rough job for me having to play her boyfriend. (laughing) The horny best friend always gets the best lines.”
On the man behind the mask, Adam says of Michael Myers actor Christopher Durand, “He is the nicest guy. It’s funny, we’d be working and he’s in the full getup and he’s got this huge knife coming after you, and it’s sort of hard being scared of the guy even in costume, because you know there’s this big smiling, nice guy right behind the mask.
“In between takes, he’d pull the mask up and he’d have this big grin on his face. He was enjoying every minute of it.”
As most fans know, Halloween H20 is infamous for featuring a number of different versions of the iconic Myers mask, each working with varying degrees of success, depending on who you ask.
In one scene in particular (pictured below) – Charlie’s death scene in fact – it appears that the mask being used is actually created by computer generated imagery (CGI). We asked Adam to give us his first hand account of what was going on during the shooting of his face to face encounter with Michael.
“I had never heard of this,” Adam told us, “but H20 is somewhat controversial because there so many different Michael masks that appear in the film. In my kitchen scene when Michael shows up, there’s that one controversial shot and people can’t figure out what’s going on there.
“I had not heard of this controversy at all until I went to the convention. I was sitting there with Chris Durand and he’s been to a lot of these conventions before, so he had been asked this question many times.
“I’ll give you my interpretation of what happened to the best of my knowledge. I don’t know what happened in post, but my understanding, and I think Chris agrees with me, is that they were trying to get that shot of the reflection in his eye. To do that, they had these very bright lights very close to him to get that reflection. I think what happened was those bright lights blew out the detail in his mask.
“I don’t know where the truth lies exactly because I wasn’t there in post, but my understanding is that it actually was not a CGI shot, but it just looked off because of those bright lights that threw everything off balance. I could be completely wrong.
“They were, throughout the course of the shoot, changing the mask. They had a couple different iterations of it until finally they landed on a mask they were happy with.
“There were plenty of days I was sitting in the makeup trailer and they’d come running in with a different version of the mask. That was constant. It was changing a lot throughout the shoot.”
Hann-Byrd told us he gained a new appreciation for the legacy of the entire Halloween series when he attended the 35 Years of Terror anniversary convention in 2013 in California. We asked him about the undying, unkillable appeal of Michael Myers and these movies.
“That was my first convention,” he said, “and I was really shocked at how many people showed up to this thing and were so passionate about these films. It really meant something to these people, and to me as well. It did really strike me how all these years later it has really had a lasting impact on people. I do think about why that is.
“I think it goes back to looking at horror as a whole, how Psycho was the original slasher film, but Halloween took it one step further and became that prototype. There were just so many slasher films that came after that, and I think it’s often been imitated but people have never quite found that perfect lightning in a bottle again.
“I think part if it is Jamie Lee Curtis has an amazing presence. That idea of the last girl, I think she helped solidify that with that role.
“Also, with Michael Myers you’ve got this quintessential icon of evil who can’t be stopped. He’s got those black eyes and we don’t really understand what his motivation is. He’s coming and coming and coming, and there’s no stopping this guy, which is pretty terrifying.
“I don’t know if there’s an easy answer to why the Halloween movies have such a lasting impact and staying power, but I think it’s sort of a combination of a lot of different elements that came together in those films, and because it happened at that particular point in time, it’s just had such a huge influence on the horror genre. So it makes sense that people would be into it excited, because this is the original.
“There is a real community of not just the fans, but other actors and filmmakers, and I obviously know a lot of people from H20 but not necessarily from the other films. So we shared some stories and it was a very cool experience.”
As we have with all of our Halloween alumni interviews, we had to ask Adam if he would ever consider a return visit to Haddonfield.
“I don’t know how Charlie could come back, but absolutely, I’d be happy if I got that call” he said. “Like anything, it’s always depended on what the story is. There’s no point making another movie just to make another movie.
“You have to have the right story to do it, and you want to make it as good as it can be, but I think there are more stories in that universe, certainly.”
In the third and final installment of our interview with Adam Hann-Byrd, we’ll talk about acting lessons from Jodie Foster, moving behind the screen as a writer, and Adam’s personal favorite horror movies!