While John Carpenter gets most of the credit (or blame) for Halloween III, the film wasn’t actually directed by him but by his good friend Tommy Lee Wallace. The two of them first met while they were in film school together at UCLA in the early 1970s, and they were also in a rock band together called the Coup DeVilles (which also featured Nick Castle, the future director of 1984’s The Last Starfighter). Wallace assisted Carpenter in several of his early films, including Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), Halloween (1978), The Fog (1980) and Escape From New York (1981). He even played one of the pirate ghosts from The Fog and Michael Myers for a couple of scenes in Halloween.
Tommy Lee Wallace
Tommy Lee Wallace’s ultimate goal was to become a director just like his buddy John, and his first opportunity to direct came when Halloween II went into pre-production in 1981. Wallace wrote the original script for the film, which was reportedly much more like 1998’s Halloween H20 (with Laurie Strode, the Jamie Lee Curtis character, encountering Michael Myers again several years later at a private school). However, this script was ditched in favor of a new one by Carpenter, which moved the action to a hospital setting on the same night as the original Halloween. Unfortunately, Wallace felt Carpenter’s new story was far too disgusting and sick, so he turned it down; he was soon replaced with Rick Rosenthal, a new director who was fresh out of film school. (Wallace then went to work on 1982’s Amityville II: The Possession, which is actually far grislier and more offensive than Halloween II could ever be.)*
But when John Carpenter decided to start with a clean slate on Halloween III, he offered the director’s chair to Wallace yet again. (Apparently, Wallace’s refusal to participate in the Halloween II gorefest wasn’t taken personally. My guess is that Carpenter didn’t blame Wallace for leaving the project because his own heart was never really into it, either.) Upon learning that the new film would be something completely different that wouldn’t bow to the slasher film market like Halloween II did, Wallace jumped at the opportunity. He and Carpenter then asked for a script from Nigel Kneale, which they later re-wrote a couple of times to make it more accessible for American audiences.
Though Wallace would never become a “famous” director, he’s made a few memorable flicks. Perhaps his most well-known project is the made-for-TV Stephen King’s It (1990), which stars Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown. But based on what I’ve seen in his interviews, it seems that Halloween III is the film of which Wallace is the fondest. (It’s also the one film on his resume for which he receives the most attention.) He laments the fact that it was named and marketed in the manner that it was, but he seems truly proud of the film in any case, and he greatly appreciates the fan base it’s accumulated over the past 30+ years.
Imagine a world where Conal Cochran and Pennywise are on the same team…
* Amityville II: The Possession is one of the single most offensive horror films I’ve ever seen. It’s a prequel to the original movie, and it’s supposedly based on the real life DeFeo murders that actually took place in the infamous Amityville house in 1973. However, it takes all kinds of disgusting liberties with the victims’ lives (e.g., claiming that the teenage children committed incest with each other). These things never happened, so that’s just revolting to me. Say what you will about slasher movies, but at least Halloween II doesn’t make shit up about real life people who were actually murdered.
“Twenty-five more days ‘till Halloween,
Twenty-five more days ‘till Halloween,