Moustapha Akkad - RIP

Today the horror film lost one of its great producers in Moustapha Akkad, who passed away after being hit by a suicide bomber attack whilst staying in a hotel in Amman. His daughter also died in the blasts, alongside many other innocent people.

Early in his career - in 1976 to be precise - Akkad faced controversy when he produced a film entitled "The Message", dubbed "the story of Islam". The picture was targeted by Islamic extremists - who believed that showing the prophet Mohammed on screen was blasphemous. Obviously aware of the vast opportunity for filmmaking in the United States, Akkad setlled into Los Angeles and - alongside Irwin Yablans - he executive produced 1978's "Halloween" - which, at the time, became the highest grossing independent movie of all time. It made an overnight millionnaire of Akkad, Yablans and director John Carpenter (as well as his girlfriend, and producer, the late Debra Hill) and launched the career of its teen star Jamie Lee Curtis.

With "Halloween" comes Akkad's true legacy, as he continued to exploit his cash cow for decades to come. Although he also produced a handful of other films, including the largely unsuccessful war movie "A Lion in the Desert" (which featured Anthony Quinn, who also headlined "The Message"), Akkad's name became synoymous with the slasher series - whose sequels began in 1981 with "Halloween 2" - a decent, if less than worthy, follow up. Carpenter, Hill, Yablans and Oscar winning cinematographer Dean Cundy jumped ship after the failure of "Halloween 3", which oddly did not feature the iconic Michael Myers but remains one of the eighties spookiest and most underrated horror titles, but Akkad ploughed on and in 1988 the surprisingly enjoyable "Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers" hit the number one slot at the US box office. With 1989's disasterous "Halloween 5" setting the series back, Akkad took his time and finally geared up "Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers" for October 1995. Sadly, the film was a bomb and stands as the worst of the franchise - as well as marking the cinematic swansong for the late, great Donald Pleasance.

Nevertheless, Akkad was quick to capitalise in the interest from Jamie Lee Curtis in returning to the series (she was last seen in part 2) and in 1998 proved there was life in the beast yet with "Halloween H20", hands down the best of the sequels and directed by an old pro in Steve Miner. Curtis would return one last time for the botched "Halloween: Resurrection" in 2o01 - at which point Akkad's prized franchise ground to a commerical and artistic halt.

Rumours continue to pop up about a potential "Halloween 9", and it seems inevitable that Michael Myers will stalk again. With that, Akkad has left us with a legacy to be proud of. He took part in the fathering of one of the great films, horror or otherwise, of all time in the original "Halloween" and he helped to nurture one of modern cinema's great boogeymen.

I had the pleasure of meeting Akkad, and interviewing him, in 2003 in Pasadena, California. It is a memory that I will cherish - and the finished piece appeared in Britain's "Shivers" magazine (issue 110). During our conversation it became blatantly obvious that he was passionate about "Halloween" and grateful to the fans that have made the series such a success. For taking the time to speak to me, Mr Akkad will always have my sincerest thanks.

His legacy will not be forgotten.

Calum Waddell