Ror Revisits: Halloween
Not exactly a comic book movie I know, but it has spawned a comic series since, and we do like to dabble in horror flicks here at CMB! So how does John Carpenter's seminal slasher hold up after all these years?
The original slasher flick. Made back when John Carpenter earned and lived up to his title as The Master Of Suspense. Halloween spawned an endless stream of similar(and inferior) films, 7 sequels and remake by Rob Zombie. But for me, and many others, this is the Daddy!
We all know the story. On Halloween night a young Michael Myers brutally murders his sister and spends the following 15 years in a mental institution where he is treated by Dr Loomis(Donald Pleasense), until one Halloween Myers escapes and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield to indulge his penchant for killing promiscuous babysitters, with Loomis in pursuit. One of the babysitters is laurie Strode(Jamie Lee Curtis, sensible, clever, prudish..bound to survive!). As her friends go under Myers' knife, she must fight for survival against the seemingly unstoppable madman.
Plot wise that's your lot really. But that's all you need. Re-watching this you might be surprised by how slowly it all unfolds. After the escape we don't even see Myers "in action" until almost the end of the film. But Carpenter still ramps up the tension. The other characters glimpse Myers out of the corner of their eyes and the remotest corners of the screen are used to the best possible effect as he stalks his victims. The performances from the main cast are also of an unusually high standard for films of this type. Pleasense is outstanding as Loomis, and although he he is pretty ripe in some scenes he never resorts to ham. This role made Curtis a star and its easy to see why. She is believable and most importantly likeable. This is one slasher flick were we are NOT rooting for the bad guy. The supporting cast of kitchen knife fodder not so rootable for, but its not as if we expect any of them to survive anyway! They are dispatched in violent, but not especially gory ways..all the more effective here. The thing that really sets this apart though is Michael Myers himself. A pair of mechanic's overalls and a repainted William Shatner mask are made a lot more terrifying than they sound. He is a force of nature. There is no motive, he's just a killing machine. This is something that so many copycat movies, including Zombie's remake just don't seem to get. The less we know about the killer the better. If he has a reason for doing what he is doing then he can(theoretically) be reasoned with, understood. Even the ending avoids telling us too much. Myers does going from being hard to kill to something more supernatural as Loomis fills him with bullets only for him to walk away. But again, this makes him even more interesting. Add the now iconic music(composed by Carpenter himself) and this still retains its power.
The direct sequel is also worth watching, but its not a patch on the original. And that continues on, with some sequels being downright wretched. Stand outs though are actually Halloween H20 which sees Curtis return, and Rob Zombie's remake. Which despite humanizing Myers and spawning a useless sequel is actually pretty good as an alternate take of the character/story. Anyway, if you haven't seen this in a while I recommend you catch up again on this most appropriate of nights! Happy Halloween folks.
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