Once upon a time, during a long ago (but certainly not forgotten) era, a horror film's radio trailer would feature the chilling voice-over of a male commentator, whom, after presenting a teaser synopsis for the slasher film's plot (over intimations of both sound and speech from the movie of course), would conclude the radio spot with the following words: 'Coming soon to a theater near you.' And, 'Rated R. Under 17 not admitted without a parent.'
Those classic horror film radio trailers used to scare the weebie-jeebies out of me! But boy, did I love them wholeheartedly.
(Pondering ... in remembrance)
Where John Carpenter's independent cult opus "Halloween" is concerned, the radio trailer had been no less terrifying. In fact, it made my blood run ice cold. . .
Though Halloween, one of my most beloved horror films in cinematic history, debuted (theatrically) in 1978, it would not be until October of 1980 that my family and I would spend our "Movie Date Night" at what had been a gorgeous movie theater in Gurnee, IL., buying hot dogs, Raisinettes, popcorn, and drinks from its state-of-the-art concession areas, and bracing ourselves for the terror which we were about to watch on one of the theater's humongous screens. Even from that time, I had cover and poster love: Book covers, album covers, and yes, movie posters. It was the artwork. Cover and poster art has always fascinated me. And upon seeing the poster art for Halloween, I fell smitten. For it had been one of the most unique movie posters that I'd ever seen at that time ... And I never forgot it. The artwork, featuring a man's hand wrapped around the handle of a butcher's knife, its pointed tip shown to be in alignment with the face of a Jack O' Lantern, was some of the most creative - not to mention original - movie poster art that my eyes had ever beheld at that time. To this day, it STILL reverberates. I can remember my reaction to it so well, what just standing in that beautiful lobby and staring at the poster for Halloween as it hung in its frame on the movie house wall. Too good. Too good.
'The Night He Came Home!' ...
If there is one horror film antagonist who has left a permanent emboss of the word "terror" on my psyche, it's Michael Myers. From the moment Halloween opened on the screen, fear came along to take up its abode within my entire being. The score, titled "Halloween Theme", which is also the (Main Title), was so eerily distinctive that the entire theater audience fell into silence - every patron hanging on to every piercing chord of it ... Perhaps me, especially, considering my own gift of music. The incredible John Carpenter not only directed and co-wrote (with Debra Hill) the screenplay for Halloween, but he also composed the entire soundtrack. . .himself. Carp is a badass for sure!
Moving on. . .
Set in the fictive town of Haddonfield, IL., this legendary cult film opens to a crowd of children out trick-or-treating on Halloween night. And these candy revelers include a six-year-old boy named Michael, whose choice of costume is a clown suit with a mask. All is well; a seemingly fun-filled All Hollows' Eve night ... Until Michael returns home from his evening of candy collecting, walks, almost mechanically, into his family's kitchen, selects a butcher's knife from the cutlery set, waits until his older sister's boyfriend (who's just finished having sexual relations with her) leaves, then walks, mechanically, upstairs to that same sister's bedroom - catching her unawares. When she turns around (still naked after her sexual escapade) to address him as her younger brother, Michael begins to take his turn penetrating her. . .with the sharp point of the knife. And he doesn't stop his blade puncturing until his sister collapses. He then walks back downstairs and goes out in the front yard to wait. Their parents soon return home to find Michael just standing outside - his face still covered by his mask - with the bloodied knife in his young hand. One of his parents lifts the mask, and we get our first glimpse at the six-year-old face of Michael Myers. The year was 1963.
That was just the opening.
It would be fifteen years later (in 1978) before the now 21-year-old Michael, escaped from the Smith's Grove Sanitarium, could return to Haddonfield for the purpose of laying claim on his former childhood home: Sitting unsold since the time he murdered his sister, ended up at Smith's Grove as the result of it, and succumbed to the abandonment of his parents. When Michael Myers returned to Haddonfield, all Hell broke loose ... Literally.
A phenomenally directed cinematic ouvre, Halloween stars Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, the teenaged protagonist who becomes the hunted of Michael Myers; Donald Pleasence, who portrays Michael's psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Loomis; Brian Andrews, who was cast to play Tommy Doyle; and Nancy Loomis as Annie Brackett, one of Laurie's two best friends, respectively.
Shot on a $325,000.00 budget, Halloween would go on to earn over $71 million worldwide ... For a reason.
A true cult legend is this Carpenter masterpiece. It is sheer filmmaking ingenuity, a landmark of cinema, and more than worthy of each one of its five stars.
_Halloween's_ a classic movie. No doubt about it. One of the seminal films of the slasher genre, and a more-than-worthy inclusion to any Halloween season horror movie marathon. But I think people give it a reputation in terms of quality that it doesn't fully deserve. The opening ten minutes, and the closing ten minutes, are both **brilliant**. But everything in between? It's kind of... Somehow, both boring and annoying. The kills are good if that's your sort of thing, but everything in the meat of _Halloween_ is old hat. Now of course it wasn't at the time, but when I've spent my formative years watching other movies doing it better (and acting it better), it doesn't really matter who did it first.
_Final rating:★★★ - I liked it. Would personally recommend you give it a go._
The Boogeyman cometh
A soulless killer, Michael Myers, escapes from the asylum and returns to the Illinois town where he murdered his sister 15 years earlier to wreak havoc on Halloween night. Donald Pleasence is on hand as Myers’ seriously concerned doctor.
John Carpenter’s “Halloween” (1978) is hailed as the progenitor and blueprint for the slasher craze of the 80s with staples like the unstoppable masked killer, fake scares, the final girl and the undead dead. Of course, “Halloween” was influenced by earlier slashers or quasi-slashers, like “Psycho” (1960), “Dementia 13” (1963), “A Bay of Blood” (1971) “Torso (1973), “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974) and “Black Christmas” (1974). “Friday the 13th” (1980) and its sequels took the “Halloween” template and added other elements, like the summer camp setting and a devolving supernatural killer.
Whilst I prefer the “Friday” films, “Halloween” has more class than many slashers that followed, like the unimaginatively blunt “The Slumber Party Massacre” (1982). It also keeps the proceedings deadly serious unlike ones that added humor and campiness, such as “Friday the 13th Part 3” (1982). The film establishes some quality atmosphere with the raining sanitarium escape and the Halloween night sequences. The creepy ambiance is helped by the moody score composed and performed by Carpenter.
Although the story takes place in a fictional Illinois town, the film was shot in the Los Angeles area (South Pasadena and Hollywood, etc.), which is okay since the neighborhood scenes could be Anytown, USA. What’s NOT okay is how the trees clearly reveal that it’s not late October.
Other problems include a tedious lack of drive and some weak dialogue, like the girls’ conversation walking home from school, which doesn’t ring true. Speaking of the girls, they’re decent, but not nearly as good as the “Friday” films. Nancy Kyes (Loomis) is arguably the best as Annie, followed by Jamie Lee Curtis as the main protagonist (whose mother, Janet, starred in “Psycho”). Flighty, but likable PJ Soles is also on hand. Another dubious part is the doctor hiding in the bushes by the abandoned Myers’ abode speaking portentously.
I appreciate “Halloween” because it’s classy, atmospheric and it’s a superb pick for the fall season; it also holds an eminent place in horror history. But, in light of the above flaws, it’s a tad overrated by gushing fans.