HALLOWEEN :: HORROR :: 008

6bearhalloweenJohn Carpenter’s 1978 classic film, Halloween, will no doubt go down in history as one of the best horror films ever made.  Dubbed by many as, “the scariest movie of all-time!”… Halloween begins with 6 year old Michael Myers (not to be confused with Austin Powers) as he murders his breast-baring, lingerie-wearing sister as she sits in front of her vanity.  The child is then put in an asylum for 15 years, to then escape and continue the babysitter killings that he started on October 31st, 1963.

Halloween is not the “perfect” horror film that everyone professes.  Jenny and I watched this on Halloween night and I must say… nostalgia runs rampant with this title and most likely feels to people (who grew up in the late 70’s and 80’s) the same way that the movie Beastmaster appeals to the child in me… stupendously fantastic.

There are many things that Hitchcock-influenced Mr. Carpenter does right with this picture, starting foremost with his brilliant use of foreground.  The eerie feeling of someone… or some “thing” [interesting in one scene, the children are watching “The Thing” (1951) on t.v.!  Carpenter, two films later, would take this story by John W. Campbell Jr. and direct The Thing with Kurt Russell in 1982] looming over us is a frightening sensation that everyone has encountered and can easily relate to.  Carpenter superbly establishes an ominous tone to nearly every composition of the film and combines it well with his signature music score (as he does with most of his films).  He, at the film’s beginning, makes terrific use of the newly-invented Steadicam and gives us a first-person perspective of 6 year old Mike as he picks up a clown mask and murders his sister.

The actual murder scenes are where I have a big problem with the film.  In order to avoid spoiling the movie for you, I will just say that there isn’t a realistic image of death in the entire picture.  The victims are fragile beings, death comes swiftly and not without a dose of campy shriek and shrills.  But Michael is robotic and unrelenting… and completely lacking of any self defense means besides the brute strength that he somehow acquired over his 15 years of institutionalized stay.  I blame the hospital staff for idiotically feeding him spinach, Wheaties (and possibly, steriods) each and every day.   You just don’t do that in my book!

I felt that the theme music was unoriginal as I immediately connected it to Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells that were used as the theme to the 1973 horror film masterpiece, The Exorcist.  And although Carpenter did a wonderful job with scene composition, the quality of dialogue within it was quite banal and unnatural (that is, I hope they didn’t speak that “bourgeois” in 1978′).  And although the film had an ever-present ominous texture, the babysitter’s interactions (Lynda’s, played by P.J. Soles, couch-to-bedroom sex scene not withstanding) was quite dry and arduous.  It paved the way for upcoming creature creations such as Freddy Kreuger (A Nightmare on Elm Street) and Jason Vourhees (Friday the 13th) and can, and should be commended on its many strong-suites such as: the wonderfully foreboding atmosphere, the suspenseful tension, and the pleasing debut of Jamie Leigh Curtis – who proves to be one of the great “Queens of scream.”

I know there are many people that would rate this film an 8, 9 or 10.  The quest is to prove (through your comment below) just why it would deserve such high marks.  Preceding films such as: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Exorcist and The Omen have a quality that certainly made them stand out.  Halloween is no different, however, the question of “will it rattle you?” is rather iffy …and “will it terrify you”… this, I say, is doubtful.  Using my own personal Scare-Meter [my girlfriend Jenny], I got the readings of 2 or 3 (out of 10).  Seeing The Exorcist and Paranormal Activity, Jenny teared up from fright!  Just goes to show ya.   Rather low reading on the Jenny-O-Meter for “One of the scariest movies of all-time.”

Give us your thoughts!

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One Response to “HALLOWEEN :: HORROR :: 008”

  1. Helicon Says:

    I think the comparison to The Exorcist’s “scare factor” is a little unfair. The Exorcist deals with a subject matter that was a little delicate back then (I suppose the same could be said about The Omen), and had never really been covered in films. The idea of The Exocist was to shock, and if you find shock, you usually find scare.

    The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre didn’t do it for me. Granted, I didn’t see it in it’s day, I was too young, but catching it years later, I felt a little let down by it’s reputation.

    You have to accept that a film will lose it’s impact over time. Halloween was over 30 years ago – what film can stand up as it did at release that far down the line? Also, this is a genre well known for below par acting, so so scripts, and a big lack of realism and believeability when it comes to characters. Many of the hor films I loved as a kid have lost their magic as I have grown older – I put this down to how graphic films are now, and how what was once taboo subjects have become everyday conversation pieces.

    This is certainly far better than the remake, and if it’s my nostalgic view of the film that makes me mark it at least an 8, then so be it.

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