Thursday, June 24, 2010

"Halloween"(1978)d/John Carpenter

Truth be told,for the longest time,this was my favorite horror movie.After seeing it opening night at the Gateway Twin Cinema back in 1978 with my father,I have seen it almost four hundred times to date.Arguably creating the motivation for the modern slasher movie wave that followed,Carpenter draws his inspiration here from Hitchcock and Bob Clark,among others,and crafts a beautifully composed,brilliantly simple film,packed with tension and jump scares,and whose terror stems not from body counts or elaborate gore effects,but from implied violence/visuals,first person killer's eye view camera work reminiscent of "Black Christmas"(1974),and a gripping,unforgettable score penned by Carpenter himself.Word of mouth quickly earned tonight's entry a heavy reputation,and before long,the little independent film made for three hundred and twenty thousand dollars went on to gross nearly fifty million at the box office.Regardless of where it happens to fall on your list,surely it deserves rank among the greatest horror movies of all time.Jamie Lee Curtis,a nineteen year old relative unknown at the time,would secure her place as the top scream queen of the next decade with her talent and tonsils both receiving ample screen time here.The cast,made up mainly of Carpenter regulars and unknowns was led by the late,great character actor Donald Pleasance(who shares a birthday with your humble N,by the way),who signed on for twenty thousand dollars,in place of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee,who both declined the role,with Lee later admitting that doing so was his biggest career mistake(!).What follows is the legend of the indestructible evil from behind the two dollar William Shatner mask,and the legacy that grew out of it...
Evil personified or trick or treat candy sugar-induced violence,you decide.
The sleepy little suburb of Haddonfield,Illinois is forever marred by the brutal stabbing of Judith Myers on Halloween night,1963,by her six year old brother,Michael(Will Sandin),who spends the next fifteen years in Smith's Grove Warren County Sanitarium under the watchful eye of Dr. Sam Loomis(Pleasance),who recognizes the catatonic boy for what he really is,the living embodiment of pure evil.Just before the fifteenth anniversary of the murder,Loomis is called upon to transfer his patient,so that he can be tried as an adult,but in the midst of a violent thunderstorm,Michael escapes into the dark night,stealing the very vehicle intended for his transfer.The doctor knows exactly where the silent killer is headed,and follows the bloodtrail(a mechanic with his head twisted around)and morbid clues(Judith's tombstone has been stolen) to Myers' hometown,enlisting the local sheriff, Leigh Brackett(Charles Cyphers) who's investigating a hardware store break in where knives,rope,and a mask have been stolen,to assist in the manhunt,though plainly,this isn't a man they're after...
Laurie Strode(Curtis),a bit of a wallflower compared to her sex-starved girlfriends Annie(Nancy Loomis)and Lynda(PJ Soles),promises her father she'll drop of the keys to the Myers house on her walk to school,immediately overcome by the feeling she's being watched by...somebody.While daydreaming during class,she notices a station wagon parked outside the school with a state seal on the door.When she looks towards it again,it has gone.After school,as the girls walk home planning their Halloween festivities around Laurie and Annie's babysitting gigs at the Doyle and Wallace residences that night,they're interrupted by the same station wagon playing tricks with them before screeching off.Later on the walk,Laurie notices someone up ahead hiding behind the bushes,but by the time the girls investigate,the figure is gone.
"Before we pull up to the main gate,Marion,wanna do some thorazine and hit the back seat?"
At the Myers house,the doctor and sheriff find the mangled remains of a partially-eaten dog,but little else,as Michael has been watching Laurie as she babysits Tommy Doyle,and later Lindsey Wallace,who gets pawned off on her while Annie drives to pick up Paul,her boyfriend who's been grounded from car priviledges for egging and soaping.Her red Monte Carlo will never leave the Wallace garage though,as she's strangled by Michael from the back seat,before he cuts her throat.When Lynda and Bob show up,they find an empty house,and after finding out Annie's alleged whereabouts from Laurie,they go upstairs and fuck in the Wallace's bedroom.When Bob goes downstairs for beers,Michael bounds out of a pantry door,pinning the boy to a wall with a one-handed chokehold,then lifting him off the ground,and pinning him to the wall with a knife.When the bedroom door opens,Lynda is surprised to see a silent figure covered with a bedsheet and Bob's glasses,but when she calls Laurie to check in,the shape strangles her to death with the phone cord.Laurie,concerned by the gasping and abrupt end to her phone call,puts both children to bed and decides to walk across the street and find out what's going on for herself.To her horror,she discovers the scare-traps Michael has set up for her in the upstairs bedroom involving the bodies of her friends and his sister's headstone.She narrowly escapes back to the Doyles,and after believing she's killed her masked attacker,sends the kids screaming out into the street for help,drawing the attention of Dr. Loomis who's been wandering around looking for signs of his patient's presence.As he rushes up the Doyle steps,he finds Laurie struggling with Michael,pulling his mask off in the melee,which he sheepishly pulls back over his face,as the doctor empties his revolver into him,the force of the bullets sending the killer off an upstairs balcony onto the lawn below.Laurie tearfully asks the doctor what the boogeyman is,to which Loomis replies,"As a matter of fact,it was."He looks out the balcony window to where Michael's body lay,but it's gone,as he knew it would be.Reading the doctor's expression,Laurie sobs uncontrollably.
I probably would have used something different to choke Lynda(PJ Soles).Ahem.
As another film with loads written about it already,I'll entertain you with bits of Wop-based Halloween trivia instead,as nauseatingly fan boy as that is,this time around.Halloween was the first vhs tape(of thousands)I ever bought,for fifty bucks,back in 1981.Being brought up in an Italian catholic household,I spurred on the wrath of my uncle,who was my sponsor,when I took Michael(after Myers,of course)as my confirmation name,which I use as my middle initial to this day.When I turned sixteen,my parents got me a jack o'lantern shaped cake for my birthday,as I had reached my two hundredth viewing of the film shortly beforehand.Fittingly,for one Halloween(the holiday,not the movie,in this case) party,I did the whole to-the-letter Michael Myers right down to the coveralls and Don Post mask from the original mold,and stayed in character the entire evening(if you wanted to talk to me,you had to wait for me to take the mask off haha),even when doing shots,beers,and bong hits(I also went down to dinner one night with the damned thing on,while under the influence of a certain three lettered hallucinogen,and ate with my parents who barely noticed).At one point I could recite the whole movie,down to the credits,as they rolled,and probably still could if I gave enough of a shit(Fear not,I don't.).I still have loads of memorabilia,scripts,foreign release posters,novelizations,etc.,and though I've gotten over my adolescent obsessions(mostly) with said film,it retains a spot in my Top list forevermore,regardless.It spawned a slew of unwarranted and mostly forgettable sequels,and...a dogshit remake by a blowjob hack,which I'll finally be shredding here sometime next week.The original,of course,merits the highest possible rating,and remains necessary viewing for all.
I'm your boogeyman,I'm your boogeyman,turn arouuuuuuund...


stonerphonic said...

yea BW, def have Carpenter's Halloween listed in my top 10 of all time fave horror movies. i have not & will not view any damn remake/ revisioning/ or ruining of the original's spirit by a certain rob zombie. as a movie remake director, rob sure as makes a great bloody musician...

i can't do remakes anymore, not after what they did to Texas Chainsaw Massacre. even jessica biel's tits couldn't save it. and it fully ruined a perfect bloody original movie mythos in the process.

i like keeping my orignal experiences with 70-80's movies untouched now. i know i'm not missing a single thing by avoiding anything michael bay, rob zombie, or whoever else out there wants to try take away from the soul of a generation of people's 1st true experience with horror movies by putting out the puerile vomit currently hiding behind the guise of so-called 'revisionings'.


beedubelhue said...

We're unanimous on that,Stoner.


Connect with Facebook