On Halloween night of 1963, six-year-old Michael Myers stabbed his sister Judith to death. Why? It’s never explained. It’s left as a gruesome mystery. Fifteen years later, Myers escapes the mental hospital where he had been interned, and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield… to kill again…
Amelia: First things first, Jamie Lee Curtis as the teenage lead is weird. Not that she isn’t great in this movie, but because I don’t think she’s ever been a teenager. Watching her sit in a class with binders and books and teenage friends feels off. Especially when she starts talking and her husky voice comes out deeper than the teacher that’s currently prattling off an English lesson. She was twenty while filming and playing what? A seventeen, possibly eighteen year old in the film. That’s not a huge difference but it just seems like it! I know this is a bizarre way to start this look at the classic Halloween, but I can’t be the only one who’s ever thought this!
Billy: Haddonfield! That’s what always comes back to me when I think about Halloween. My explanation for that is that I watched the Rob Zombie remake first with friends in high school. Does that make me a terrible person? Maybe, but going back to the original, it makes me realize how different what I first saw was from John Carpenter’s version of the film. Rob Zombie seemed obsessed with the origins of Michael Myers, going so far as to craft a whole first act intent on showing us development from childhood trauma to escaping the asylum as an adult. The original gives one scene where Michael is already a violent killer. I would even argue that even the opening scene is too much. I don’t even want to know Myers. He is The Shape, a force of nature, ever-present and fully formed.
Amelia: Was I scared while watching Halloween? No. Not at all. Once again I think my lack of fright concerning this movie is down to my desensitization to horror in general. I can postulate that if this had been the first scary movie I ever saw, it would have been tense as hell. Having Michael Myers be silent and uncaring of who his victims are without any way to discern why he’s doing it? Creepy beyond belief. Plus the fact that he goes to them. They haven’t gone to his house for dickish teenage shenanigans, he’s gone to them. He’s infiltrated their safe spots. Compared to other horror, that’s a nice shake-up to the tropes.
After years of avid horror fandom though, Halloween doesn’t quite do it for me. Where it is now, the teenage sex is the only thing that frightens me. It’s so cringe-worthy, guys. That dude just gyrates a little over that blonde girl and she says it was totally great. As if any sex had with a teenage boy has ever been great. Nice try Carpenter, but I’m calling bullshit.
Billy: Michael Myers does nothing through so much of this movie. And I love that. So much of watching this is simply waiting for something to happen. Michael Myers is an inevitability. It’s why he doesn’t need any motivation. The ways he kills people are so unfeeling and cold and Carpenter captures that in his behaviour. The small tilt of the head at one of his victims impaled on the wall, almost like he’s coldly interested in the process of death and killing, rather than coming from any personal motivation. This is why he’s scary. I watched The Strangers when it came to theatres as well, and I think it’s a similar version of a psychopath that appeals to me. No reason. Just to kill.
I do have some complaints. The anti-sex message of the film is off putting, but apparently unintended from the filmmakers who really just wanted to give the teens something to do that would distract them from the killing machine. Whether that’s true or not I don’t know, but I think I believe it. The characters are refreshingly unsexualized, with the film never really playing the T&A game except in small doses. I mean, Jamie Lee Curtis always looks like she’s 40 to me, so that’s fine.
Amelia: Oh my God, thank you! Validation for the Jamie Lee Curtis theory of never being a teenager! The movement is picking up steam!
Amelia: Five and a half Mike Myers out of ten
My verdicts are going to be drawn from my personal spooks during the movie more than if it were empirically a good movie, but with Halloween I’m blending them together. Even though I wasn’t frightened during it doesn’t mean it’s not a great film. John Carpenter did wonderfully tense things with shadows and the repetition of the main theme. Though I’m still not sure how I feel about all the shots that are just Michael Myers’ shoulder. I guess that’s scary.
Billy: Seven Mike Myers out of ten
Those extra points come squarely from the music. I can seriously groove on this theme all day. John Carpenter does absolutely amazing music, and this is one of the best tracks out there. It sets the stage for an off-putting version of a film that puts evil right at the heart of suburbia. That’s what’s creepy. Never mind cabins in the woods or sleep-away camps. Having an emotionless, inhuman killer lurking on a sunny street two doors down is what’s truly frightening.