Revisiting John Carpenter’s Halloween
“There is no terror in the bang, only the anticipation of it.” –Alfred Hitchcock
John Carpenter’s Halloween has continued to scare and excite viewers for over thirty years now. Halloween is a movie that is often analyzed and has been on the top ten lists of scariest and best films of the twentieth century. Halloween was produced with no big name studio (Universal, MGM, Paramount, United Artists) attached to it. This movie ushered in the slasher flicks of the 1980s, even though there is virtually no gore in Halloween. John Carpenter’s Halloween is a template for digital media majors and movie goers and it is a definition of a classic film.
Donald Pleasence as Dr. Samuel Loomis
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Nancy Kyes (Loomis) as Annie Brackett
P.J. Soles as Lynda van der Klok
Charles Cyphers as Sheriff Leigh Brackett
Kyle Richards as Lindsey Wallace
Brian Andrews as Tommy Doyle
Nick Castle as Michael Myers, aka The Shape
On Halloween night in 1963, Judy Myers is babysitting her younger brother Michael. After Judy and her boyfriend are intimate, the boyfriend leaves and Michael goes upstairs and kills his sister. Michael is only six years old. Flash-forward 15 years and on a rainy night in 1978, Michael’s psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis, is on his way to take Michael to another hospital. However, Michael and a bunch of other psychiatric patients escape. Michael returns to his childhood home in Haddonfield, Illinois and on an idyllic Halloween morning, he sees Laurie Strode walk with a young boy she babysits and drop off a key at the abandon Myers house. Michael then stalks Laurie Strode and kills her friends. Doctor Loomis comes to the rescue and shoots Michael as he is attacking Laurie. After shooting him, Doctor Loomis goes to check on Michael to find that he has disappeared, leaving the viewer wondering where he is at.
Ties between Carpenter and Hitchcock
Halloween is an original work of art by John Carpenter. However, Carpenter borrowed some ideas from past director Alfred Hitchcock. For example, Hitchcock, in the movie Psycho, did not use a lot of gore to portray fear and Carpenter incorporated this same trait in Halloween. Also, Carpenter gives honor to Hitchcock when he names his characters Sam Loomis and Tommy Doyle. Sam Loomis is the name of Marion Crane’s boyfriend in Hitchcock’s film Psycho, and Tom Doyle is the name of the detective in Rear Window. Furthermore, John Carpenter said that he cast Jamie Lee Curtis because she is a great actress, but also because her mother is Janet Leigh, and Janet Leigh played Marion Crane in Psycho.
John Carpenter not only directed the movie, he also helped write the script and he wrote the music for the film. Halloween has a few recognizable tunes but the theme song is unmistakably the most recognizable of all. The moment you hear this tune, you automatically know what movie is playing even if you have never actually seen the movie. Just in case you have never heard the theme song, you can find and listen to it in the video below. Another famous tune in the movie is Laurie’s theme. If you have never heard Laurie’s theme, you can also listen to it in the video below. The music in Halloween sets a tone of eeriness, yet is beautiful and haunting at the same time.
*Video from spencrc*
*Video from MovieReelMadness*
John Carpenter’s Halloween led the way for directors Wes Craven (The Last House on the Left, A Nightmare on Elm, The Serpent and The Rainbow, Scream) and Sean S. Cunningham (Friday the 13th) to produce movies. Halloween also ushered in the slasher films of the 1980s, where a manic ran amok and horrified young people. Furthermore, The title Halloween spawned many movies to also take themes and titles from holidays. These movies are: My Bloody Valentine, Happy Birthday to Me, Friday the 13th. Halloween showed film makers that a director can make a great film that can produce millions of dollars without having any kind of backing from any major film studio.
Why should I watch this film?
Halloween not only scares the watcher but gets them to be an active participant in the viewing process. Carpenter opens up the film in a wide view but as the films gets closer and closer to the end, Carpenter narrows the cameras focus. It starts to feel like you are actually in the closet with Laurie Strode and you begin to feel the fear and you feel the need to fight off Michael Myers. Not only does this movie draw you in like none other, Halloween boasts some wonderful performances by Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence. Curtis makes the audience want to root for her as she is the sweet girl next door who seems like she could be your babysitter. Donald Pleasence makes you wonder if he is just as maniacal as Michael Myers. The film keeps you in suspense.
What are some of the Christian themes in Halloween?
Some might not think that there are Christian themes in John Carpenter’s Halloween. However, there are a couple. The character of Dr. Loomis a deus ex machina, is like a superman who comes to save the day and Dr. Loomis saves Laurie Strode from the fate of death, much like Jesus Christ saves sinners from death in the Bible. Also, the movie features one of Blue Oyster Cult’s biggest hits, “Don’t Fear the Reaper”. “Don’t Fear the Reaper” is about how we should not fear death. Death is inevitable, however, one of the teachings of Christianity is that there is life after death and death is not something to fear because Jesus Christ has defeated death once and for all. The lyrics for “Don’t Fear The Reaper” can be found here.
“There are two different stories in horror: internal and external. In external horror films, the evil comes from the outside, the other tribe, this thing in the darkness that we don’t understand. Internal is the human heart.” John Carpenter
*Video from ttt69*