After creating the iconic mask worn by Michael Myers in John Carpenter’s original 1978 Halloween, the film’s production designer, editor, and occasional Shape actor Tommy Lee Wallace turned down a chance to direct its 1981 sequel, only to return to the franchise the following year to helm Halloween III: Season of the Witch, a divisive sequel upon release that celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2022 after a recent reappraisal, as Myers fans and horror lovers have come around to embrace H3 as the classic that it is. We were beyond excited to discuss the film and we were surprised to learn during our recent interview that Wallace has never seen the most recent Myers films, in which the iconic Silver Shamrock masks he first brought to the screen are once again lovingly showcased.
In a video conversation earlier this month, a follow-up from our 2015 interview, Wallace explained just how the three Silver Shamrock masks – a smiling jack-o’-lantern, skull, and witch – were chosen, telling HDN, “It fell into place beautifully. I decided we needed three masks… The rule of three seems to prevail everywhere in everything, as three is just a good number. And it was Halloween III, after all. So I said, ‘We need three masks’.
“Debra (Hill, producer) was watching every penny. Neither time nor money would allow us to sit down and design three masks from scratch, do the sculpting, go through the process, audition, blah blah blah. It’s the same story as the original Halloween. We didn’t have time for that, we had to go a different route.
“In this case, by this point, Debra had developed a relationship with Don Post, the mask maker who was in fact behind the original Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock masks. When Debra embarked on Halloween II, they started out using my masks from the original Halloween, the ones I did. But those masks were a little bit flimsy, the latex was not thick.
“So I believe Debra approached Don Post to crank out a few more, and if you look carefully at the movie, they are interspersed. Some of them look dead on exactly like the original, and some of them it’s like there’s a little something off about them, and that would probably be because of the thicker latex, as well as the guy wearing them was Dick Warlock, whose face is totally different than Nick Castle’s face, totally different from my face, and so it looked a little different.
“By that point, Debra knew Don Post and had a relationship where she could pick up the phone and say, ‘Don, can we talk?’ We went to see Don, and right away identified the skull mask as already on the shelf. It was like, wow, maybe we can use that. Someone had been working already on a witch. It was sort of on the drawing board, so there was that one that was already in the pipeline. The only one we just designed from scratch was the jack-o’-lantern. I just dictated it. It wasn’t anything complicated. It’s the two triangles and the smiley face that everybody everywhere carves into a pumpkin. So I thought it needed to be quintessential, no tricks, just that’s what that is.
“It was a real coup for Debra, because in exchange for Don being allowed to manufacture and market these masks as a kind of a scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours deal, we got all the masks and the use of the masks, and shooting at his factory for free. So it was a real production coup for Debra to pull that off, and that’s how they came about.
“The fact that they endure as they do, I’d say it’s about half pure luck and coincidence, and half – I am a designer after all, so I care about color and the combination of colors. Those three colors together, they just do it, you know. It’s unbelievable. It’s like a flag or something. The three colors work so well together, with a little bit of purple coming along for emphasis.”
Wallace also reveals that he has not seen the 2018 Halloween requel that brought the Silver Shamrock masks from Halloween III into a Michael Myers-centric movie for the first time, nor its 2021 sequel Halloween Kills, in which the three masks are featured even more prominently. And while we had not yet seen Halloween Ends at the time of this interview, that third film in the recent David Gordon Green-directed Strode Trilogy also pays homage to Season of the Witch by using the same blue-colored opening credits font used in H3.
On the masks appearing in the recent Halloween films, Tommy smiled and said, “I didn’t even know that. Honestly, except for H20, after Halloween III I haven’t watched, haven’t kept up at all with the rest of them. I felt just like John and Debra did after Halloween II. They’d had enough. Now they were lured back in. Money will talk, as it did to John and it did to Jamie (Lee Curtis), certainly… I like a good horror movie, but I’m not that much into it. It doesn’t touch me. I do have other things going on in my life.”
Wallace then went on to explain how the 1998 sequel Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later actually used much of what he had proposed as a story setup for Halloween II. “H20 interested me a lot,” he said, “because it basically followed the notion of what I was lobbying for on Halloween II, before John wrote the five-minutes-later script. I wanted a five-years-later kind of script. Okay Laurie Strode is traumatized beyond belief, barely able to function, had therapy seven days a week for three years or five years, and is finally venturing on to a college campus somewhere that is well protected, high walls, security out the wazoo, and oh shit, that could be made into a prison, as well… That’s pretty much what H20 was working with. So I was gratified to see that idea come to life.”
We also got the scoop on Wallace’s new book entitled Halloween III: Where the Hell is Michael Myers? The Definitive History of Horror’s Most Misunderstood Film and he gave us a few previews of what we will find inside when it’s released this month, and of course we talked about Tommy’s own real life memories of celebrating Halloween itself growing up in Kentucky, and much more.
You can watch our full exclusive interview with Tommy Lee Wallace on Halloween III and more below.
You can also read our 2015 interview with Tommy Lee Wallace here.
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