When we heard that Dick Warlock would be at the Williamsburg Film Festival for a special screening of Halloween II, doing a live commentary, we quickly realized that we simply could not miss this event happening just two and a half hours away, so we hit the road to watch one of our favorite movies with Michael Myers himself!
This was an incredibly rare opportunity, as this was not at a horror convention, thus the very intimate (15 people) audience was made up of mostly older fans of classic Golden Age Hollywood westerns, some of whom had never seen the 1981 sequel Halloween II, starring Dick Warlock as “The Shape”, aka Michael Myers.
The screening was preceded by an awesome Q&A session, during which audience members asked about everything from the Myers mask to Warlock’s work as Richard Dreyfuss’s stunt double on Jaws to pissing off Mel Brooks and almost getting fired from Spaceballs, and much more.
In recalling some of the craziest close calls over the decades, it really hit home what a legend this man is, having taken literally hundreds of screen hits for Hitchcock (Family Plot) and John Wayne (The Green Berets) all the way up to Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, and Disney, with an entertaining tale or two from each of them.
It was great seeing the 75-year-old renowned stuntman hold court, entertaining the small but lively crowd with numerous stories from his prolific career, both as a stuntman and coordinator and as an actor, including his “unmasked” work in the Halloween II sequel as The Assassin in Halloween III: Season of the Witch.
He had us all in awe has he rattled off tale after tale of the near-death experiences he encountered on the job, listing his more serious injuries with a proud nonchalance that informs both his love and respect for his own profession, one that is perhaps going away too soon thanks to the growing use of CGI instead of actual real life stunt work.
When asked what happened to his Myers mask, he told how it, along with other props like the infamous Elrod Knife, were sold to a friend who displays them at his haunted houses each year, though Warlock says he still owns one of each of the three original screen-used Silver Shamrock masks from Halloween III, to which he laughingly added, “But nobody’s interested in those.”
As the stunt coordinator for Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, Warlock talked about how he held onto the only Jason Voorhees hockey mask to be used in not only the fifth entry in the series, but also Parts 3 and 4, and how he eventually sold that mask a few years ago for a huge sum, which he joked that he was able to buy a motorcycle and a house on the beach with.
When someone asked about working with Jamie Lee Curtis, Warlock laughed and answered, “Did I meet Jamie Lee Curtis? I fell in love, but I was married! I don’t know if we could have had something going, but I know she was real friendly to me the last time I saw her, but she’s married and got kids, and I was married of course and now I’m married again, so I just watch her Activia commercials.”
Warlock also revealed that his final climactic scene as Michael Myers on fire following the explosion at Haddonfield Memorial Hospital was the most difficult burn effect he ever had to do in his career.
“Because it was all inside,” he said, “the heat just really generated and it got real hot in there. You can see it, I was trying to do that walk thing real slow, and then I start moving quicker in the next scene right before the safety guys came in and put me out. That was in that bulky suit that I was in in both Halloween II and Firestarter. Now they have this gel, so now you look more normal. If you remember in the Halloween thing, if you look at my fists, it looks like I’ve got big baseball gloves on or something, but you had to wear that kind of stuff.”
After answering questions about where and for how long it was filmed, the Q&A soon drifted away from Halloween II and more into Warlock’s long and varied filmography, talking in detail about serious shoulder injuries suffered on Rollerball and The Relic, and recovering using Chuck Norris’s “Total Gym”, for which he thanks God that he can even move his arm again.
He also touched on an explosion designed to blow out the back window of a car he was in that badly damaged his ears and contributed to a loss of hearing.
Clearly enjoying an opportunity to discuss more than just his time in Haddonfield and the horror genre, the visibly fit Warlock was far more animated than he ever was as Myers, laughing and lovably asking if we were ready to watch the movie after each story, to which we answered each time that we wanted to hear more, the movie could wait.
When Halloween II did start rolling, following the extended Q&A session, I found myself on the front row as the infamous theme music began, sitting between my wife and “The Shape”, Dick Warlock, a surreal and memorable moment in my life to say the least.
Throughout the film, Warlock was able to actually pause the projector whenever he felt like talking about a scene, offering many behind-the-scenes gems and quizzing us about a certain future comedian who has a tiny role (hello Dana Carvey), or reminding us of the challenges of not only serving as an actor but simultaneously as the film’s stunt coordinator.
Remember Myers look-alike Ben Tramer nervously shuffling is feet as he crossed the street? It was because the stunt man Warlock hired had to literally count his steps so he would be at the right place at exactly the right time when Warlock would come speeding up driving that police car, cut later with the car hitting a fake dummy of Tramer that then catches on fire after colliding with a parked van.
He said his favorite scene as The Shape is the hot tub death scene of Pamela Susan Shoop’s character, and he talked about how it was filmed in what was actually freezing cold water, with dry ice creating the “steam”, and cuts after each dunk into the seemingly scalding hot tub in order to apply additional makeup effects.
Ultimately, this entire evening was a Halloween fan’s dream come true, a rare chance to have an actual meaningful and personal interaction with someone who has brought so much awe-inspiring joy (and terror) into the hearts of so many moviegoers, and it was a much overdue celebration of a horror icon and a true Hollywood legend.
You can listen to an audio recording of the Q&A session with Dick Warlock that took place prior the Halloween II screening, moderated by Rob Floyd at the Williamsburg Film Festival on March 6, 2015, in the player below!
We also have an interview with Dick Warlock scheduled for later this month, so be sure to look out for it exclusively at HalloweenDailyNews.com!