________Lost Souls_______
Classic Frights

Each issue we take a look at a classic movie from horror cinema.  In this issue it's John Carpenter's original stalk and slash masterpiece ...

1978 Dir: John Carpenter. With: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, Nancy Loomis, P.J.Soles.

Before this classic was let loose in cinemas in the late 70s, director John Carpenter had already brought us the weird sci-fi flick Dark Star complete with its playful (but unintentionally deadly) beach ball alien, and the brilliant Assault on Precinct 13, a thriller about a gang who descend on a police station while the cops hold out inside.

No one could have guessed that for his next picture, Carpenter would turn to the horror genre and while doing so invent a whole new "genre" in the "slasher flick"!

For Halloween is recognised as the one that started the stalk and slash trend in horror movies - with maybe the possible exception, that is, of Black Christmas, and of course you need to name check Psycho too, which was obviously a big influence on these types of movies.

Before Halloween came along many horror films were set in haunted houses, gothic castles or some darkly atmospheric environment away from suburbia. But this movie brought the horror to suburbia. It trod amongst the neat rows of nice houses with their immaculately kept lawns and lurked amongst the hedgerows. What the film was saying was that the horror now lived amongst those manicured hedgerows and tree-lined streets of suburbia, and it could leap out and get you in your own neighbourhood (not just in the creepy castles of Transylvania!)

The neighbourhood in Halloween looks like the sort of place where you could raise kids safely, and they could play freely in the streets, in perfect serenity.

From the very moment that Carpenter's own minimalist electronic music plays over the title sequence the mood is set.

The film begins with a prologue set in 1963, a one-take shot, from the POV of the young Michael Myers, who picks up a knife, makes his way upstairs, slips on a clown mask, and goes into his teenage sister's room (where she's getting it from her boyfriend) and stabs her to death.

October 30th, 1978, Myers, now an adult, escapes from a mental hospital and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, and on Halloween night, stalks friends, Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), Annie (Nancy Loomis), and Linda (P.J Soles), as they are babysitting.

Myers' psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence), is searching for him and thinks that he may return to his old home.

The atmosphere throughout is menacing and that music (acting as Myer's signature tune - as much as My Way was to Sinatra!) is forever keeping you on the edge of your seat, waiting for something to jump out from those hedgerows, or get you in that darkened room.

This film brought the bogeyman right into the heart of suburbia and left him there! I mean, after this movie the bogeyman was everywhere, stalking teenagers in the movies, and usually in a mask of some kind. This was definitely a benchmark (carved deep into the bench by Myers' sharp knife - no doubt!)

From Friday the 13th through to Scream, and even the Nightmare on Elm Street films, the influence of Carpenter's original is there to be seen, in all its gory (sorry - couldn't resist that!)

The movie Scream would later send up Halloween wholesale, in fact, even using clips from it to illustrate the parody in one scene.

Laurie Strode, is the one who does battle with Myers towards the end, and of course as became the norm in these types of film, he just won't stay down! He keeps rising again for one last fight. And finally vanishing altogether at the end!

Some of the performances in the movie may now all these years later seem a little hammy, especially that of Donald Pleasance, and some of the lines of dialogue such as, 'I looked into those eyes - the devil's eyes,' seem a bit too over the top nowadays. But this film is still a classic slash-fest!

Sequels, anybody? There were plenty of those, Halloween II, Halloween III Season of the Witch (not actually featuring Myers and a totally different story altogether!), Halloween 4 The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween 5, Halloween 6 The Curse of Michael Myers, and Halloween H20.

And no doubt we haven't heard the last of the masked man! For just like the endings of these films, Myers will keep rising up again and again to do battle with whoever dares to take him on.

Halloween Facts

Halloween was originally going to be titled, The Babysitter Murders.

Donald Pleasence's character, Sam Loomis, bears the same name as a character in Psycho.

The mask worn by Michael Myers is none other than the face of William Shatner (Captain Kirk - of Star Trek fame!)

According to screenwriter/producer Debra Hill, the character of Laurie Strode was named after John Carpenter's first girlfriend.

Halloween's musical score is credited to, The Bowling Green Philharmonic. There is no Philharmonic in Bowling Green, the "orchestra" is actually John Carpenter and assorted musical friends.

Jamie Lee Curtis is the daughter of Janet Leigh, who was the shower victim, Marion Crane, in Psycho.

Halloween III Season of the Witch, was not a sequel and has nothing to do with the previous two Halloween films and didn't even feature Michael Myers.

The kids who Laurie is babysitting are watching 1951s The Thing From Another World on TV, the remake of which, Carpenter would later go on to direct in 1982 under the shortened title of, The Thing.

The movie was made for a mere $320,000, since then it has grossed in excess of $50 million, which made the highest-grossing independent movie in horror film history.

Since the movie was shot in spring, the crew bought paper leaves from a decorator, and painted them in autumn colours, then scattered them around the locations. To save money, after each scene was filmed, the leaves were collected and reused!

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