Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat was the little horror film that could. Telling the story of Sam, the unofficial mascot of Halloween who punished anyone who dared to diss the holiday, Trick ‘r Treat was originally scheduled for a theatrical release in 2007. But after much confusion, the film was given a straight-to-DVD release in 2009. Four years later, the film has attracted a cult following, all of whom are dying to find out what’s next for Sam. The good news? There’s finally a sequel in the works.
After tonight’s screening of the film, which closed out Beyond Fest 2013 at L.A.’s Egyptian Theater, Dougherty announced that Trick ‘r Treat 2 will be coming your way soon enough. With Legendary Pictures behind the film, Trick ‘r Treat 2 hopes to make its way to theaters, unlike its predecessor. We caught up with Dougherty, who will be writing and directing the sequel, to talk about Sam’s return:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did the idea for the sequel come about? What made you want to do this?
MICHAEL DOUGHERTY: It’s funny because when I first dreamt up the idea of making the first film, I thought, “How neat would it be if we made them a series?” I’m a firm believer that October should be filled with Halloween movies, or horror movies. That’s something I remember from childhood. Horror movies and Halloween, they go hand-in-hand. And so the idea was, “Well we could probably do a Trick ‘r Treat movie every year or every other year, and that it would sort of just be a new batch of stories and characters. And the common link between all of them would be Sam.” Initially that was the plan, and then things changed as the first film had a very delayed, strange journey. I put those dreams on hold for a little while, so it feels good to go back to that initial plan.
Was there a moment you realized you could bring that dream back to life?
I don’t think there was on particular moment. I had definitely been hearing the fans asking about a sequel ever since the first film came out on DVD. Even back then, there were the first cries for “Give us another one.” And I think that chorus only got louder as the film started to grow and develop its audience, to the point where it’s insane. If I log in to check out the film’s Facebook page, or if there’s an article about it, the top comment is always “Give us part two.” Just dozens of people. I think that momentum just started to build to the point where it was deafening. And I think Legendary finally heard it too. Legendary’s always been a big supproter of the film. They’ve been tracking fans rise in popularity, and I think this was the year we finally reached that peak, and they realized the sequel was necessary.
How far along are you in the creative process?
We don’t even have a script yet.
OK, so in your head, have you always had part two? What can you tell us –other than Sam’s return — in terms of plot/story?
There’s nothing I can reveal yet. It’s still really early in the process, but I can definitely say that we’ll be exploring Sam more and maybe getting into some back story of who and what he actually is.
When you imagined these films coming out every year, every other year, were they always in the same anthology format as the first film?
Yeah. I love the anthology format. It’s something that I think is strangely under-appreciated in the industry. It really puzzles me, because it was a format that reigned supreme for decades. From the 60s into the 70s and the 80s, the 80s being sort of the golden era for the anthology, they were everywhere. There was a point where you had seven different anthology TV shows on the air at the same time, and then multiple anthology films in the theater. And then for whatever reason in the 90s, they just went away. It’s almost like some guy smoking a cigar in the 90s flipped a switch and no more anthologies. And ever since then, the status quo in Hollywood has had the mistaken belief that you can’t make anthologies. If you try to pitch an anthology TV show or film, it doesn’t matter if it’s a studio executive or an agent, they’ll just tell you, “Nobody wants anthologies,” or “Anthologies don’t work.” And I find that really frustrating, and I think that’s a really limited vision, because anyone who knows and understand horror knows that it’s a cyclical genre. What’s old becomes hot again in a matter of years.
I read where you talked about having to convince studios that vampires would be popular with audiences?
A really interesting anecdote with the first film is that the script was written in 2000, 2001, and the first time we took it out, the collective feedback we got from the studios was: “This is so old-fashioned. It’s anthology, and it has vampires, werewolves, and zombies. Those are old-fashioned. Nobody wants to see those anymore.” Literally, that’s what we were told. Fast forward to just over 10 years later, that’s all we have: werewolves, zombies and vampires. We tried to tell people back then, “You guys are all over Japanese horror and Scream knockoffs right now, but you have to think about what comes next, and what’s next to get resurrected are the classic monsters.” So yeah, I love the anthology format. I think it’s something that deserves more attention, and I still think it can make people a lot of money. It’s just hard to get people to work with.
In terms of what you want to do with the sequel, are you looking at more classic monsters?
I think we’ll shake it up a little bit. There are different archetypes I’d like to explore, different types of monsters. We covered werewolves, vampires, and zombies, but there’s a whole slew of different creatures out there that we haven’t tackled, and I think Sam would probably be pretty good buddies with. So I think it’s time to let them have their time in the sun.
And this one will get a theatrical release?
I mean, fingers crossed it will have a theatrical release considering the adventure that the first one took, but I guess if it didn’t have a theatrical release, the first film also proved that you don’t need a theatrical release in order to be successful. Not anymore. This film became the hit that it became because of video on demand and because of Amazon and Netflix and all those new technologies that people have embraced. It was because of that that this film found its audience.
Do you have an ideal release date in mind? Or year?
I try not to get caught up on thinking about release dates, because I think that’s a mistake Hollywood tends to make is all they’re doing is working toward a release date, and sure that can work sometimes, but I think it also forces you to rush things and sacrifice quality just to have a movie out. Obviously we want to release it sometime in October in a future year. [Laughs] We’re not going to release it in December.
If you were given the opportunity to do a third or fourth film, is that still something that you would want to do?
I think it’d be great to make it a trilogy, at least. So fingers crossed. For me, I think every film should explore a different aspect of Halloween. I felt like the first film was the very traditional, suburban Halloween that we all have some memory of. But as I’ve grown up over the years, I’ve lived everywhere from Columbus, Ohio to New York to L.A., and I find that the holiday is very different depending on where you live. Or even time periods. I don’t see why we should be limited to just present day stories. Halloween is an amazing holiday because it evolves depending on where you live and the time period.
Any hints on a potential location for a sequel?
No, no. We’ve got to keep some things quiet.
What do you want to say to your fans?
I just want to say thank you to the fans. This is a sequel which is definitely being made because of fan demand, and because of word of mouth, which has been building for years. It’s not a sequel that’s just being rushed out because the movie had a big opening weekend. This is a sequel that people actually want, which I think is a rarity. I’m just eternally grateful for the fans for the constant, constant support.