Metal god-turned-filmmaker Rob Zombie has been tapped to revive the successful “Halloween” franchise, some 28 years after accomplished horror director John Carpenter’s influential slasher flick first introduced the world to Michael Myers, an escaped mental patient who massacred his family on Halloween night.
Dimension Films issued a press release over the weekend, confirming weeks of online rumors that Zombie would be directing the film. Zombie will also serve as one of its producers, and act as the movie’s music supervisor. “Halloween” will mark Zombie’s third stint behind the lens, following his 2003 directorial debut “House of 1000 Corpses” and that film’s sequel, 2005′s “The Devil’s Rejects,” which centered around grease-painted sociopath Captain Spaulding and the murderous Firefly clan (see “Rob Zombie’s Second Movie Drags Horror Into The Daylight” ).
According to Zombie, his vision of the next “Halloween” film features an entirely new take on the legend of Myers, and should oblige fans of Carpenter’s classic legacy while opening a new chapter in the Myers saga. He assured that this next film, slated for an October 2007 release, would not be a copycat of any prior “Halloween” flicks. Malek Akkad, who produced 1998′s “Halloween H20: 20 Years Later,” and Andy Gould, who worked with Zombie on “House of 1000 Corpses” and “The Devil’s Rejects,” will be co-producing the project with Zombie.
“I have been a huge, huge fan of John Carpenter’s original film since its  release,” Zombie said. “So when Bob Weinstein,” co-chairman of the Weinstein Company, which owns the Dimension Films label, “approached me about this, I jumped at the chance to join forces with Dimension Films on this amazing project.”
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The ninth installment in the “Halloween” franchise will be “a bit of a prequel and a remake, combined,” Zombie said. The film will be set before the events of 1981′s “Halloween 2: Halloween Resurrection,” and will focus on Myers’ origins and development into a serial killer — his youthful years before his commitment to a mental institution.
The news might come as a shock to some fans who read a message posted on Zombie’s MySpace page last week, where the rocker shot down rumors that he’d been in discussions with Dimension to breathe new life into the pale-masked Myers.
“I don’t know how this story all got started but I am not making ‘Halloween 9′,” he wrote in a post dated June 3. The next morning, he clarified the situation in a separate post, writing, “I am not making ‘Halloween 9.’ That series is done, complete, over. But what I am doing is starting totally from scratch. Call it a remake, an update, a re-imagining or whatever, but one thing that [is] for sure is this is a whole new start — a new beginning with no connection to the other series. That is exactly why the project appeals to me. I can take it and run with it.”
Before accepting the job, Zombie told Variety he’d reached out to Carpenter, seeking his blessing.
“The original ‘Halloween’ is hallowed ground to me, and I talked to him about it and he was very supportive of what I wanted to do,” Zombie said. “He said, ‘Go for it, Rob. Make it your own.’ And that’s exactly what I intend to do. Over 25 years and a lot of movies, a very scary character became something of a Halloween cliché, with Michael Myers dolls that play the Halloween music when you press their stomachs. By the end of the sequel cycle, there was little connection to the original. I take that film very seriously, and I want to make it terrifying again.”
Zombie, who will be heading out on the road for a full U.S. tour this fall with New England rockers Godsmack, continues working on “The Haunted World of El Superbeasto,” an adult-oriented animated feature based on Zombie’s comic book about a has-been Mexican wrestler; that film is also scheduled for a 2007 release. Oscar-nominated actor Paul Giamatti (“Sideways,” “American Splendor”) has signed on to voice the film’s villain, while comedian Tom Papa is set to play El Superbeasto. Zombie’s wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, will play the title character’s sister.
See “Throne Of Blood: Rob Zombie Rules As New Horror Royalty” for Zombie’s thoughts on remaking fright-film classics.
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