Death Has Come To Your Little Town, Sheriff: Halloween (1978)

From that ever iconic musical score to the commentary on repressed sexuality, right down the the awkward placement of jack-o-lanterens a revisitation of Halloween was a long time coming for myself. I have not seen this film since I was quite young and I only recalled it being incredibly scary, particularly the heavy use of POV shots to help intensify the actions and chases undertook by the films iconic killer Michael Myers.  Now that I have a far deeper understanding of cinema than the one I did as a child, I can better understand exactly why this film is hailed as one of the horror cinema classics.  From a psychological example the films combination of great editing, pulse heightening music and just the right amount of stagnant pausing camerawork to intensify discomfort in the viewer.  Not to mention that it is an incredibly cinematic film, particularly in its early use of solar flares, something that has become all to common and nearly unbearable in contemporary movies.  I had not realized how low of a budget Halloween was recorded on initially, because when watching it John Carpenter manages to make a film that seems far more intense and grander than many of the films from the same period that had far grander budgets.  It always amazes me when I find out that films that not only I love, but many other people seem to enjoy, suffer from almost falling to the wayside in the politics of film production, this was certainly the case for Halloween which as conversations show was, ultimately, funded purely on the realization that Carpenter was quite passionate about making the work.  Long sentences aside, one can quickly pick up on Carpenter's passion in the work as it is a seemingly flawless film, everything happens so perfectly and the suspense rises and falls with such magnitude that one would be hard pressed to find a reason not to love this film.  It is Halloween for Christ's sake it is a classic of horror and cinema in general.

Halloween begins with a point of view shot of the murdering of a woman named Judith Myers (Sandy Johnson) on Halloween night of 1963, only to quickly reveal that murder was undertaken by a young boy, Judith's brother Michael, the younger version played by Will Sandin.  The narrative then flashes forward to a few days before Halloween in which one Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Peasance) along with the assistance of a nurse returns to an insane asylum where the older Michael Myers (Tony Moran) is staying to bring him to a local penitentiary as part of his sentence changing.  Unfortunatley, while stopping off at the asylum it is evident that not all is right when one sees many of the patients roaming the fields, in a matter of moments it is revealed that Michael Myers has also broken free and manages to steal Dr. Loomis's car and drive away.  It is then revealed that he is returning to his hometown to continue his murderous rampage.  At this point we are introduced to the narrative's heroine Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) a chaste young woman who has decided to spend her Halloween babysitting local kids, instead of boozing and sexing it up with her less than respectable friends.  After a request by her father to drop a key off at the old Myers house a newly returned Michael begins to follow Laurie, assuming she has some attachment to the location.  In a creepy game of cat and mouse Michael incessantly follows Laurie about town and eventually around the house where she is babysitting, killing off her friends one by one, interestingly enough while they are all engage in sexual activities.  By the films closing scenes it is left to Laurie to fend off Michael, an act that is incredibly intense because Laurie assumes victory on more than one occasion only to realize that the pyschotic killer is seemingly immortal.  With the eventual help of Dr. Loomis they are able to exile Michael from the house, however, upon going to find his body outside it is revealed that he is gone yet again, setting up nicely for god knows how many sequels have followed.

Despite the many dismissive statements on the part of John Carpenter the sexual nature of the violent acts within Halloween cannot, and should not, be overlooked.  From the very onset of the film, Michael kills his sister after she has engaged in sexual activities with her boyfriend, suggesting some level of repressed sexuality that inevitably acts out in violence.  Sure if this were the only case of this occurring in the film then perhaps it could be seen as a misreading, but one only needs to continue analyzing the murders in the film, his killing of the nurse after exposing her breasts adds a layer of sexuality, and while he stripped the man for his work outfit, it, nonetheless, suggests a sexual action.  Furthermore, the victims he is able to kill throughout the narrative are inevitably engaged, had been moments earlier, in sexual acts.  Perhaps this triggers a particular form of violence within the killer that makes him punish those engaged in that which he has particularly negative connotations.  It then is no coincidence that he is incapable of punishing, via death, Laurie, because the film suggests her virginity and as such he has no ground for murder thus explaining her ultimate survival.  Furthermore, it always adds a lovely layer of phallic imagery to Michael's possession of  knife, as well as a means of observation in Laurie's refusal to possess the knife for more than a few fleeting moments.  With this sexual commentary in tact, perhaps the most interesting scene arises when Laurie attacks Michael Myers with a coat hanger, an attack that is ultimately botched...I will let you delve into the possible metaphors with that act.  So while I am at no liability to say with certainty, it is hard to believe that Carpenter did not fully realize the suggestions latent in his film.

Key Scene:  There is a segment where Michael Myers is following Tommy (Brian Andrews) in a car and the camera simply pans back and forth from the backseat of the car...it is perfected cinematography if ever a moment existed.

I bought the bluray on a whim a couple months back and have just now cracked into it and was more than amazed by its quality, the film pops nicely on the screen and makes some of the films lingering shots on Michael that much scarier.

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