Are you guys sick of me talking about John Carpenter yet? Too bad, losers! Yes, here we go, another John Carpenter film. Not just any Carpenter film, but probably his most well-known. I think I’ve mentioned before that when I was a kid, there wasn’t really one defining moment of watching a scary movie that traumatized me. I kind of wish there was, but I know a lot of people reference this film as one that always scared people when they were kids. It also makes up another triumvirate of films that had a long-lasting impact on horror film, joined by Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. It was that time of the year to watch this film, which was two weeks ago, but I am lazy so it took me awhile to write this review.
What kind of hair is this?! What the fuck is wrong with you?!
As a child, Michael Myers kills his sister while dressed as a clown on Halloween. As an adult, he escapes from the insane asylum and goes on a road trip to get back to his hometown of Haddonfield, IL, and the only one who knows enough about him is Dr. Samuel Loomis, played by Donald Pleasence. Once Michael gets back into town, it seems as though he has focused his creepy stalking on Jamie Lee Curtis for some reason, probably because of her old lady hair. There is some running, chasing, hiding, killing, and stalking throughout the film, which eventually ends with Dr. Loomis shooting him seven times with a six-shooter (I know, right?) and Michael falling out of the window. When the cops arrive, the body is no longer laying where it landed, and nobody knows what happened to Michael.
Michael! What are you doing! You know that you’re Halloween costume isn’t in this closet! Just your bathrobe!
Not really that complicated of a film, but why does it scare people so much? First off, let’s talk about the fact that it’s Halloween. The one night of the year where people are allowed to wear disguises to hide who they really are. I’m sure everyone has had an experience on Halloween where you see someone wearing a mask and wonder if they are some weirdo or not, so this film proposes the idea of whether or not there really is a psycho underneath a mask. That would be Michael! Another reason why it seems to strike a chord with people is how many scenes there are where Jamie Lee Curtis thinks she sees someone, or gets a feeling that someone is watching her, but when she looks back, no one is there. The movie goes by rather slowly, and the deaths aren’t that brutal, I think it’s just the tension throughout the film that makes it successful, which is really why it stands out in the genre, especially against Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street.
You found it! Good job Michael!
I used to really like Friday the 13th, for no real reason other than how awesome Jason Voorhees looks. The more I look back on it, the more I realize how dumb it is. A completely mindless killer, with no real reasons as to why he came back, other than to avenge the fact that he died due to neglect from camp counselors. Freddy Krueger gains his power from the psychological fears he inflicts on a small town, and that fear manifests itself with him coming to life. So with those two films you have someone who presents a purely physical threat, and if you can run away from Jason or don’t do drugs and have sex, you don’t have to worry about him, and then you have the psychological fear with Freddy, that the more you fear him the stronger he becomes. Halloween is so effective, at least this film, before they tried to explain Michael Myers, because there wasn’t much rhyme or reason as to what he was doing, or why, or what could stop him. When he is wearing a mask, he is also typically referred to as “The Shape”, rather than Michael, which really defines the fear. It doesn’t matter who he is, or why he is, but being stalked by a “Shape” who can’t be stopped is what terrifies people. And John Carpenter, once again, uses music and a slow pace to really create a tense mood throughout the film that other directors have a hard time competing with.
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