Friday, October 26, 2012

My Favorite Era: Halloween (1978)

Not really sure how much more I can say about this one as pretty much everything that can be mentioned has been covered so this may be a briefer piece than I would normally throw out.  Then again, that never stopped me from trying so let's take a closer look at one of the best slasher films of all time to say nothing of one of John Carpenter's best films as well as one of his best collaborations with producer Debra Hill.  Odd that I've waited this long to do a full review of one of his movies since he;s one of my favorite directors but there you go.
  • Sort of odd to realize that I am the same age as this movie.  And by odd, I mean soul-shatteringly depressing.
  • Even now, the main theme is still one of the creepiest compositions I've ever heard.  John Carpenter is just as good a composer as he is a director.  The rest of the score is equally solid.
  • Speaking of the man's directorial skills, that one opening tracking shot is simply awesome.  It just works and is still amazingly suspenseful.
  • I have to say here how much I love Donald Pleasence as Dr. Loomis.  The man was always a brilliant actor who could play hysteria like few others and here he does a bang-up job of playing an obsessed, determined, probably slightly unhinged man.  It also helps that he gets all the best lines.
  • The scene where Michael Myers escapes is another well done bit of business.
  • As with the remake of The Blob I wrote about the other day, the town and main characters are set up nicely and the characters are, most importantly, likable.  Of course Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is sweet given that she'll end up being the hero of the piece but Annie (Nancy Loomis) and Lynda (P.J. Soles) are quite likable, though a bit on the smart-assed/horny side.
  • On a more personal note, part of the thrill of this film for me is that most of it was filmed in Pasadena, CA and South Pasadena, CA which by sheer coincidence is where I live.  The thrill I felt when I watched this and recognized my high school as well as the street I've walked down hundreds of times was quite strong.
  • I've always been impressed by how well Carpenter was able to make Southern California look like rural Illinois.
  • I love how Carpenter keeps Myers more or less hidden to where you don't get a really great look at him for the most part (aside from a few profile shots and lower torso angles until the second half) but always a presence, even in the daylight.
  • I appreciate how the kill scenes are geared more towards suspense than anything else.  Annie death, the great double kill of Lynda and her boyfriend, all three are set up and executed for the maximum level of suspense.  Contrast this with Friday the 13th two years later which focused more on gore (though there was a little suspense here and there).
  • I do get a morbid kick out of how Annie's babysitting charge Lindsay goes through most of her scenes staring blankly at a horror film on TV.
  • I also enjoy the irony of Carpenter having The Thing From Another World playing in the background considering what movie he made four years later.
  • The entire last twenty minutes or so with Laurie vs. Michael is one of the best extended suspense sequences in horror history.  Jamie Lee Curtis is fantastic as usual and she plays being scared out of her mind quite well.
  • One last bit of fun before we end this, the film was one of the earliest VHS releases, put out by Media (initially Meda as Charles Band named the label after his wife).
It's been said before and I'll say it again but Halloween is a landmark in horror cinema and film in general.,  Well directed, well acted and still effective, it spawned legions of fans and cinematic knock-offs to say nothing of its own sequels and remakes.  It's still one of the great horror films.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.