Skip to main content

             Today is the day, and this is the movie for it! The sire and still best of all the slasher films, John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN broke the mold of the psycho-killer movie and remade it in its own image. Think of all the current tropes of the slasher film (Killer in a blank mask, butcher knife, teenagers in danger, etc.) and you will find their genesis in this movie. Intelligently directed, perfectly cast, and brilliantly constructed, John Carpenter’s micro-budgeted Horror opus was a standard-setter in 1978 and continues to influence Horror films of every type. From the opening strains of Carpenter’s “Halloween Theme” of the opening credits, to the eerie, muted breathing of Michael Myers over the montage at the end, HALLOWEEN was a thoroughly new, exciting, and harrowing experience.

            The big ‘get’ in the casting of this small film was Donald Pleasence. Most famous at the time for his role as the great Bond villain Blofeld in “You Only Live Twice”, Pleasence plays Dr. Sam Loomis, the psychiatrist who treated Michael Myers in the mental institution. Pleasence’s portrayal of Loomis as he desperately tries to stop Michael gives the film an urgency and weight that a lesser actor could never have provided. Another great piece of casting was the feature debut of Jamie Lee Curtis as our heroine Laurie Strode. The offspring of Hollywood royalty (daughter of Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis), Jamie Lee Curtis was anxious to prove herself in the film business. Her turn as the innocent in danger not only launched her career, it set the template for damsels in distress in Horror for generations.

    Every great Horror movie has to have its monster, and HALLOWEEN has a doozy.  Michael Myers is more than just a maniac in a mask with a knife. Michael Myers is the embodiment of death itself. Ever present, relentless, and shrouded, he is the classic boogeyman - a force of nature that you can not reason with. Like death itself, you might see him coming but it’s useless to run away. Like death, he is lurking where you won’t expect him,- ready to strike. Because Michael Myers is more than he appears, HALLOWEEN is more than just a slasher film. In much the same way Laurie Strode looses her innocence on that fateful night, so too did the United States in the waning years of the ‘70s. The end of the Vietnam War, and the brutality and senselessness of that conflict had been brought home in a very real way. Michael Myers, like war, takes away the young without remorse, pity, or reason. We want Laurie to get away not just because we like her, but because she could be any one of our kids. It was a resonant subtext for our country at that time.

    As usually the case, the vastly inferior knockoffs of HALLOWEEN missed the point of what made the originator great.  Tossing all subtext and thoughtfulness, they focused only on the maniac with a mask and the nubile youngsters he stalks.  In the end, though, that only makes HALLOWEEN stand out even more. John Carpenter once famously expressed that as they were making HALLOWEEN, his best-case scenario was that it would make its money back and become a cult classic. Little did he know that he had a cultural phenomenon on his hands. A cultural phenomenon and a masterpiece of Horror cinema.

HALLOWEEN fun facts - The part of Dr. Loomis was first offered to Christopher Lee. Later, when Christopher Lee finally met John Carpenter in person, he told him that turning down HALLOWEEN was the biggest mistake of his career.

The original title of HALLOWEEN was “The Babysitter Murders”.  Since the story called for the events to unfold on Halloween night, they decided to change the title to the holiday‘s name.  The main objection to “Halloween” was that they figured there must be dozens of films with that title.  Upon research, the filmmakers were shocked to discover that there were no previous films titled “Halloween’, and went ahead with the change.

Dr. Loomis - “He’s gone from here! The evil is gone!”

Laurie Strode - “It was the boogeyman?”
Dr. Loomis - “As a matter of fact, it was.”

Dr. Loomis - “I met him, fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left. No reason, no conscience, no understanding; even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face and, the blackest eyes... the Devil’s eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply evil.”

Originally posted to cmcolin on Wed Oct 31, 2012 at 10:04 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

Poll

Tonight is the night!

100%39 votes

| 39 votes | Vote | Results

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site