Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Discount Bin Movie Club #7: Halloween

Nope I'm not talking about the Rob Zombie remake. I'm talking about the original John Carpenter horror classic HALLOWEEN, that even though it wasn't the first 'slasher' film, did give the genre legs.

The film starred movie veteran Donald Pleasance as the definitive Dr. Sam Loomis and Jamie Lee Curtis in her feature film debut as babysitter/killer target Laurie Strode and Nick Castle as The Shape, better known as Micheal Myers.

Like all good horror stories, the plot is simple and direct. Michael Myers killed his sister when he was a little boy in 1963. In 1978, he escapes from the booby hatch, and, thanks to a brief glimpse of her through the window of his old house, becomes obsessed with nerdy babysitter Laurie Strode.

Then the killings begin and it's up to Michael's shrink Dr. Loomis to stop him before he wipes out the whole town with a little .38 caliber therapy.

Now modern gore-hound deride the film because

1. It is relatively bloodless. takes a while for the killings to begin

3. The audience never learns much beyond the bare minimum of the backstory of killer Michael Myers.

Well, I think those are the film's strengths.

1. Gore is overrated as an element in horror. There was a time when it was shocking and new, but that time has passed. Hell, the CSI franchise dish out more gore than the average Dario Argento picture. The makers of Halloween opted to go for fear over disgust.

2. It does take a while from the initial burst of violence with Michael's juvenile killing of his sister, to get to the murders of the babysitters and their friends, but that was a good choice by the filmmakers. It allowed them to let the characters have a little personality. Sure none of them are Hamlet but it's enough for the audience to identify with them enough to feel horrified at their deaths.

3. It is necessary to make Micheal Myers an enigma. Everything about him is kept vague, because the audience needs to see him as more than just a nut with a knife, but as an unstoppable force of evil.

The film even sets up questions about Michael and blatantly refuses to answer them. These deliberate loose ends make the film more unsettling because there's nothing scarier than the unknown.

All in all, the film Halloween is a mandatory addition to any horror fans DVD collection. And Anchor Bay's latest 'remastered' edition looks even sharper and clearer than it probably did when it was released in theaters. This edition (there are dozens) also comes with a 'making of' featurette made in the year 2000 and it's loaded with trivia and amusing stories about the making of the movie.

"You Moronic gore-hounds wouldn't know good horror if it stabbed you in the chest and nailed you to a wall!" -Michael Myers.

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