Exclusive: Michael Dougherty talks Trick ‘r Treat and comic book movies


Trick ‘r Treat is one of those films that never got a theatrical release. It’s okay though, because it was able to become a cult horror classic anyway. Now that Halloween is coming up, Legendary Pictures is hosting a Trick ‘r Treat screening and panel event with director Michael Dougherty and cast members on October 28th at the Egyptian Theatre. You can catch the screening for free via live streaming on the Legendary’s Facebook page.

We get to chat with the director about the screening and the movie itself and horror vs. comic book movies.

John “Spartan” Nguyen (Nerd Reactor): So you’re probably pretty excited for Trick ‘r Treat theater screening.

Michael Dougherty: It feels great.

Nerd Reactor: Is this the first time doing a panel for this?

Michael Dougherty: No, we screened at Comic-Con in, I think, 2009, for like 4,000 people, which is crazy. The cool thing about the screenings that we have had in the past is that there’s usually a Q&A afterwards, and if possible, I try to bring some member of the cast and crew along with me, so I’m not completely petrified by myself. But this one, I think, will be really special because we’re getting a few members of the cast and crew together as well as streaming it live over Facebook on Legendary’s Facebook page, so people can watch the movie for free online on Facebook, and then watch the Q&A afterwards too.

Nerd Reactor: I hope Sam is one of them.

Michael Dougherty: Well, he doesn’t do a lot of talking, so that could be tricky.

Nerd Reactor: Oh yeah, just have him show up and scare the audience.

Michael Dougherty: I mean, it would take some heavy dark magic to get him to show up, but we’ll see what we can do.

Nerd Reactor: Do you have any plans on a sequel?

Michael Dougherty: No, not at the moment. We’re still sort of letting this movie find its audience. The film has been a sort of long, strange journey that only now, does it feel like the film is finding a mainstream audience whereas it had only been embraced horror and genre fans. But now all the main-streamers or nerd fans are watching or listening to it, making it their holiday tradition too. So still enjoying the first film, and just screening on the 28th we’ll release it to more people because it will be free on Facebook for a night. We think it would be great to get a lot of people to tune in for that. Beyond that, I’m not even thinking about it yet.

Nerd Reactor: You have worked on X-Men 2. So how was the experience working on something like that compared to a horror project like Trick ‘r Treat?

Michael Dougherty: Well, you know, with X-Men, I was kind of adopting other people’s characters in someone else’s universe. Those were Marvel characters that they’d used for decades. It was an honor, and it was great. I learned a lot and contributed a lot, at the same time, I just sort felt like a foster parent for someone else’s characters.

Nerd Reactor: So you’d rather have something completely original, compared to adapt something else?

Michael Dougherty: I like both, I like adapting. The characters you grew up with, there’s absolutely an amazing appeal to that. But I do like balancing it with original stuff and I think that if Hollywood did the same, we’d be in a much more interesting place with films now because, right now it’s all obsessions over remakes, remakes, remakes. I think there’s an inherent laziness in the industry, and fear in the industry. Creating something original takes a lot more work. It takes a lot more energy and focus and dedication, and it’s just harder, even if you are on a budget of $12 million. But in a lot of ways it was harder than X-Men because it was uncharted territory. But it’s more rewarding when you come up with a character. I mean, Sam, I can look at Sam and go, “That’s mine. It wasn’t Stan Lee’s. Or Bob Kane’s. That’s my guy.” When you come up with something original there’s nothing like it.

Nerd Reactor: Oh yeah, so does Sam have action figures available?

Michael Dougherty: Oh, a lot! I think there’s now six different action figures for the character. There’s a 15” Sam that’s the size of a Cabbage Patch Kid that Sideshow created back when the film first came out. That one goes for $500 on Ebay now.

Nerd Reactor: I hope you’re not selling yours on Ebay? [laughs]

Michael Dougherty: I’m not. I’m keeping my stockpile, but NECA has a figure going for I think $50. But then there’s some new ones coming out; like there’s an animatronic, walking, talking one, there’s a plush figure, and there’s a vinyl figure. There’s a lot of merchandise for fans to go hunt down.

Nerd Reactor:  If Halloween was one of your favorite holidays?

Michael Dougherty: Oh, I hate Halloween. No, I’m kidding. For me, Halloween is the only holiday I really care about in truth. I mean, you know, it’s the one holiday where people get really fun and creative the whole month, and there’s horror movies. In L.A.– I don’t know if other cities are doing it, I think they are but– every night there’s a different horror movie playing at some movie theater here. It’s almost stressful because there’s so much cool shit to do that I can’t get to it all.

Nerd Reactor: Oh yeah. Especially the haunted houses.

Michael Dougherty: The haunted houses– oh, Universal, Disneyland, Knott’s Scary Farm, there’s too much and I always get a little bit sad that I can’t visit every single thing.

Nerd Reactor: Have you tried the interactive Halloween mazes like Delusion and Purge?

Michael Dougherty: Oh! I’m going to The Purge tomorrow. That’s the Blumhouse one.

Nerd Reactor: Yes.

Michael Dougherty: Delusion, I haven’t been to yet, but I’ve heard good things, and I want to check it out. But all that stuff, all of a sudden, it’s like, I need to take the month of October off to be able to hit everything.

Nerd Reactor: Horror vs. Comic Book genre?

Michael Dougherty: Horror. Hands down. For all the same reasons we just talked about. When you do a comic book movie, you are borrowing someone else’s characters. You know? You’re building upon decades of stories and decades of a very fervent fan base. So it’s guaranteed a certain amount of attention, but there are also a lot more rules. Superman has to be this, Wolverine has to be that and look like this. You can bend them a little bit, but you can’t break them. So it’s rewarding. It’s a different kind of reward, but when it’s your universe that you built from scratch, and your characters, and your mythology, there’s just a reward that you just don’t get only playing in franchises, only playing in remakes.

Nerd Reactor: What if you could create your own superhero movie?

Michael Dougherty: Well, I think that’s a different kind of challenge. That would be interesting. I think there have been attempts. I thought the TV series Heroes was a really great original take on the superhero genre, but at the same time, even the superhero genre feels kind of constrained. When you decide to do a superhero movie, whether it’s someone else’s franchise or your own, it’s still somewhat limiting.

Nerd Reactor: Yeah, there’s a formula to it, “regular person discovers powers and become superhero.”

Michael Dougherty: Right. But let’s be honest. Essentially, every superhero movie is the same movie. Every. Single. One. It’s a disenfranchised outsider, underdog who has a breakthrough, puts on a costume, goes out to keep the bad guy from destroying the city. It’s the same movie with a little bit different actors and different costumes. So we’ve essentially been watching the same movie on a loop for the last ten years. So for me, personally, I kind want to do some different things.

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John 'Spartan' Nguyen
John 'Spartan' Nguyen 9883 posts

Assassin, scoundrel, head honcho.