With Rob Zombie’s re-imaging of this horror classic to soon hit our theaters nationwide, I could not help but throw up a review of the film that many believe is the first real teenage horror film. The film that bought up the phrase dead teenager movie and paved the way for the likes of many horror films in the past thirty years.
With a estimated budget of only three hundred and fifty thousand dollars and a script with the working title “The Babysitter Murderers” Writer/Director John Carpenter and his then Writer/Producer partner Debra Hill set out to just make a movie that they hope would just spark some interest to help them get their careers off the ground. The production was not the smoothest and many people did not believe that the film would go anywhere. Even actor Donald Pleasence did not care much for the script and only took the part of Dr. Sam Loomis because he was getting paid good money to be there for his role. Carpenter was also very intimidated by the questions that Pleasence would ask him about his character. Little did Pleasence know that this role would help propel the actor to greater heights, and he would go down in history as one of the horror greats of all time. Actor Christopher Lee whom was a first choice for the role, said years later that turning down the role of Dr. Sam Loomis was one of the biggest mistakes of his life. No one that was involved with this film knew that they were making history and that the characters in the film would become of iconic status.
Halloween tells the story of a mentally disturbed and violent boy named Michael Meyers. On Halloween night 1963, Michael takes his violent behavior to the extreme and murders his sister. He is then forced to spend the next fifteen years in a mental institution for the criminally insane. However one night he breaks out and returns to the town of Haddonfield.
Laurie a mild mattered young girl and her friends are busy making plans for Halloween. Laurie has a part time job babysitting two young kids. Little do Laurie and her friends know that they are the target of Michael Meyers for reason to be determined later on. Now Dr. Sam Loomis must track down Michael Meyers before he kills more people and brings terror back to Haddonfield once again.
Carpenter and Hills script is superb. There is a whole archetype of characters in the film. Laurie being the shy weak girl whom rises to the occasion and becomes a hero when her life in danger. Dr. Sam Loomis the wise intelligent psychologist who knows how to deal with the evil of Michael Meyers, and then you got Michael himself the personification of all that is evil and heartless. The script has amazing character development and Carpenter and Hill wrote some pretty decent dialogue for this film as well. yet with this near perfect script the one thing they did perfect was the way in which they wrote each scare. If you ever sit down and watch how well each shot and each moment in Halloween is written and placed, you’ll see just how perfect Carpenter and Hill put together this script, as well as their production.
Carpenter’s directing of Halloween is what turned him from a young independent filmmaker into a icon of horror in Hollywood. The film not only made his career but also the career of his partner Debra Hill who went on to produce most of Carpenters films as well as some others such as World Trade Center and Adventures in Babysitting. But besides the two people who are responsible for bringing this tale to life, this film also bought about the career of a young women named Jamie Lee Curtis, the daughter of Psycho star Janet Lee.
Jamie Lee Curtis is one of the many actors in this film whom rounds out the top notch cast of this movie. Probably the only notable name in the film at the time of it’s release was that of veteran actor Donald Pleasence. Pleasence’s character of Dr. Sam Loomis as I mentioned above is one of the great central characters of this film and was the part in which made Pleasence a horror icon. The power and depth that he bought to the character is one that will be remembered for decades to come. Jamie Lee Curtis’s character of Laurie Strode is yet another character that turned Jamie Lee herself into one of the best known actresses to ever appear in a horror film. Jamie Lee of course went on to be part of three Halloween sequels as well as being cast in some of Carpenters other horror films as well. The rest of the cast would also have Halloween to thank for their careers as well, such as P.J. Soles and Charles Cyphers. My thoughts on the acting in this film is that each and every actor involved did a great job with their roles. There is not one scene in which I can say that they let me down with their performances.
For it’s time Halloween was considered the most successful Independent film ever. The movie went on to gross more than sixty million dollar worldwide in it’s initial release, and has pulled in close to twenty million dollars in rentals alone. And that number is still climbing with it’s DVD sales. I think one of the main reasons for the success of Halloween is not only based on the scares that it bought to the many people who have seen the film, but because of the great overall production value. When you look at the independent horror films of today, the majority of them all lack in production value, what Carpenter and company did right is that they took the overall production value into consideration just as much as they did with the writing and casting of the film. One thing that they did right was that they choose simple locations in which to shoot the film. The majority of the movie takes place in one neighborhood and within the homes of the characters. Second is that by mistake they were able to create a face for Michael Meyers in what I believe is one of the most memorable stories ever to be told about in a horror production. Who would of thought that taking a Star Trek Captain Kirk Halloween mask of William Shatner, They cut the eye holes bigger, spray painted it while and messed up the hair a bit and what do you know. They created an iconic horror mask that would haunt moviegoers for years. But beside the great production value and costume design, one thing that makes Halloween even scarier is the lack of gore and blood. Carpenter didn’t use much in terms of special effects in the film, but opted rather to misdirect and confuse the audience into being scared by using the less is more routine and providing great suspense with the soundtrack to the film. Which Carpenter himself scored the entire movie.
Carpenter’s Halloween is ranked as one of the best horror films of all time. Till this day, many fans of the genre still go out and rent or buy the film on DVD, which several versions have become available. Most recently Anchor Bay Entertainment has re-released the film on DVD with ton of special features including audio commentary with the cast and crew, a behind the scenes documentary about the making of the film, and many more features about the production. Michael Meyers, the Halloween movies and the franchise that spawned off this one film will forever be remembered as one of the great horror franchises of the past thirty years. In my opinion of all the great horror villains of the past thirty years, Freddy, Jason, Pinhead, Chucky. Michael Meyers is the one that scares me the most. When it comes to those characters Meyers has one thing over them all. No matter how many times he’s thought to have been killed over and over again there is one thing about him. He’s not really a monster like the other ones are, but in fact a human being. A human being whom has the heart of a monster, but the mind of a madman. He’s the world’s most terrifying serial killer, and the scary thing is that their are people in this world who are just as violent and malevolent as he is.
Halloween is not only one of the best horror films made, but it is also one of the freighting horror films ever made. It will forever go down in history as one of horror’s best. And Michael Meyers will be a character that will be remembered by many fans and non-fan of the genre to come.
– Horror Bob
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