Monday, October 03, 2011

Halloween (1978) #2

I would have to say that the one film that makes this month memorable is"Halloween".  Not the re-make of course, but the original from John Carpenter, and Debra Hill.  It stars Jamie Lee Curtis, and Donald Pleasence, and it was originally called "The Babysitter Murders".  The movie was done on a low budget, and looks fantastic for it's budget range.  I'm always amazed at the camera work in the film, and how great the cinematography looks.  Dean Cundy is the man behind the cinematography and the look of the film.  Along with the art direction the film really feels like it was shot in October even though it was not.  The film was shot with a Panaglide, and Carpenter makes good use of it here.  The camera floats through each scene, and it gives us the audience this lurking sense of dread.  Where will Michael Myers (the killer) come from next?  Carpenter always has you guessing.

I'm a strong believer of atmosphere in a movie, and Halloween is such a movie.  The films plot is simplistic, but memorable and unlike other films the villain here is somewhat a mythical character come to life.  Michael Myers is the boogeyman .  I think Halloween was one of the first films to do so.   Carpenter admits that the film is about evil, and about sex.  It is sex that starts the whole film and there is a re-current theme in the film about promiscuity, but essential the film is about evil, and how it never dies.  To make more of the film then what it is seems to be would be a waste of time.  Halloween is a good simple horror film with some good acting, and slick production values.  Carpenters musical score for the film enhances the film and makes the audience get involved in the action.  I remember seeing it in the theater and people were shouting at the screen for the character to run or hide.  To get the audience that involved takes some skill, and shows Carpenter to be a great manipulator of suspense.

In essence the film is a good solid horror film with a bit of a nod to those old B-movie films.  The casting of Donald Pleasence was key here.  Pleasence plays the psychiatrist that is hunting Michael Myers after he escapes from the insane asylum.  Pleasence brings to his part a man who knows who Michael Myers really is.  Pleasence character (Dr. Loomis) is one who has seen true evil, and he is on a crusade to stop it. 

Simple put I like Halloween for its feel and its simplistic plot line.  It has been repeatedly been done since then, but it was Halloween that was the first to do so.  It's production value adds to the film.  Carpenter is a true craftsman, and we see how well he does it here.  The shots at night are picture perfect and erie.  The setting which is a small town called Haddonfield can be any town in the USA, and that too is the movies strength.  That murder and mayhem can happen anywhere in a small town is what adds to the myth of Michael Myers.  In the beginning its almost Norman Rockwell territory.  When Myers comes to visit Rockwell's image of a small town is turned into a nightmare.  Maybe that's what fascinated me, and makes the movie so memorable for me.  The killer is a man in a mask who is expressionless, yet frighteningly filled with anger.  Nick Castle who plays the "shape" as he is listed in credits does a convincing performance of an unstoppable killer.

The film is well paced, and moves along quickly.  It's a good solid horror flick, and that's as simple as I can put it.  In the end evil losses, and will return.  We are left with questions, and a haunting suspicion that Michael Myers maybe around the next corner coming this time for us.  Halloween is a film that involves its audience, and it makes the movie a thrilling experience to watch.  That's why it's second on my list and a film that still thrills me today.

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