Published November 11, 2005
AMMAN, Jordan – Moustapha Akkad, the Syrian-born filmmaker and producer of the "Halloween" horror movie franchise, died Friday from wounds sustained in the triple hotel bombings in Jordan. He was 75. His daughter, Rima Akkad Monla, 34, also was killed.
Akkad, who lived in Los Angeles, was in Jordan with his daughter to attend a wedding. He died in the Jordanian hospital where he was being treated.
The two were at the wedding celebration at the Radisson SAS Wednesday night when suicide bombers struck it, the Grand Hyatt and the Days Inn in downtown Amman, killing at least 59 people including the three attackers. Rima Akkad Monla, who lives in Beirut, Lebanon, was killed immediately.
Born in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo in July 1930, the eldest of eight siblings, Akkad gained fame as a director and producer in the Arab world and West. After finishing his secondary studies in Syria, he left for America in 1950 to study film making, according to his sister.
He was best known for producing all eight "Halloween" films, starting with the 1979 "Halloween" directed by John Carpenter and starring then-unknown Jamie Lee Curtis. That movie — and the ones that followed — sparked the teen-slasher-horror genre that led to franchises including "Friday the 13th" and "Nightmare on Elm Street."
Akkad also produced and directed "The Message" (1976), a film about Islam's prophet, Mohammed, and "Lion of the Desert" (1981), which tells the story of a Muslim rebel who fought against the Italy's World War II conquest of Libya. Both starred Anthony Quinn.
"The Message" was declared sacrilegious by a group of black American Muslims, who took hostages in three Washington, D.C. locations when the movie opened in the United States in March 1977, demanding it not be shown in America.
Akkad said he was baffled by the reaction to the movie, which he said cost $17 million to make. It also was nominated for an Academy Award for best original score.
"I did the film because it is a personal thing for me. ... Being a Muslim myself who lived in the West, I felt that it was my obligation, my duty to tell the truth about Islam.
"It (Islam) is a religion that has a 700 million following, yet it's so little known about, which surprised me. I thought I should tell the story that will bring this (history) to the West," he added.
Akkad said he turned to the horror genre because it was hard to raise money for religious-themed movies, according to a 1998 New York Times report.
A woman who answered the telephone at Akkad's Los Angeles home early Friday said she was too upset to talk. A telephone message left at the Los Angeles-area home of Akkad's ex-wife, Patricia, was not immediately returned. She left for Lebanon late Thursday.
The couple's daughter, Rima, grew up in Los Angeles an avid polo player who graduated from the University of Southern California in 1995 with a degree in international relations.
She pursued a master's degree in Middle East studies at the American University in Beirut, where she met her husband Ziad Monla, 35. Her husband's family owns the Monla Hospital in Tripoli, Lebanon. The couple, married for six years, has two sons, ages 2 and 4.
"Rima is a totally American girl," Patricia Akkad, 64, said Thursday in a phone interview from Los Angeles. "Here's an American who was over there and innocently killed for no reason."
She said her daughter loved living in Beirut.
"We all know the problems in the Middle East, and you never think it's going to touch you," she said.
Akkad's sister called for an end to terrorist attacks on civilians.
"I feel sad and the world feels sorrow with us. This kind of incident rarely happens, but it has happened with Moustapha Akkad," Leila Akkad told AP in a telephone interview. "These attacks are chaotic and do not differentiate an enemy from a friend. A solution must be found to this problem."
With the death of his daughter, Rima, Akkad is survived by three sons, Tarek, Malek and Zeido.
Funeral services for Rima Akkad Monla were scheduled for Friday in Tripoli. Services for Akkad were scheduled Sunday in his hometown of Aleppo, his sister.