This is a good film to end the month of October. Maybe I should even make it a tradition to watch it every year on this date. It could make up for all the years I've ignored the film and left it gathering dust on my shelf.
John Carpenter has made a lot of good films, but in my opinion he made three films of such brilliance that they deserve to be remembered forever. They were the first three films of his career: "Dark Star" (1974), "Assault on Precinct 13" (1976) and "Halloween" (1978). These films build a trilogy of low-budget minimalist masterpieces. I even included "Assault on Precinct 13" in my list of 30 films to watch before you die.
I should have watched this film before watching the new Halloween film on Monday. That would have prepared me better. I made a mistake in my review. I said that it continued from the first Halloween film, so it's effectively "Halloween 2b". That's incorrect. Michael Myers escaped at the end of this film, so he couldn't be arrested. He was badly injured (and presumed dead) at the end of "Halloween 2", which also takes place in 1978, so that's when he must have been arrested and sent to a psychiatric ward. That makes the new film "Halloween 3b".
It's amazing how saving money could make the film so powerful. John Carpenter composed a very simple melody himself because he didn't have enough money to hire a professional musician. The simple tapping on a piano, occasionally accompanied by an electric organ, is what "Halloween" has become most remembered for. The new film copies this melody in part, but it would have been better if it had used the original melody throughout.
Here are a few words about the film's plot for the 0.1% of my readers who have never seen this film. I hope the percentage will drop to 0.0% after they've read this review.
The opening scenes take place on 31st October 1963 in Haddonfield, Illinois. Six-year-old Michael Myers kills his teenage sister Judith who was trying to make out with her boyfriend when she should have been babysitting. He's arrested and sent to a psychiatric hospital. 15 years later he escapes, the day before Halloween, and he returns to his family home which has been standing empty ever since.
Dr. Sam Loomis, Michael's doctor at the hospital, understands him well enough to know he'll return to his home. He travels to Haddonfield and warns the sheriff, who doesn't believe him.
Michael sees Laurie Strode, presumably aged 17, come to the house and leave a key under the mat. Her father is a real estate agent who wants to sell the house. After this he stalks Laurie and her friends. The following day, 31st October 1978, he kills Laurie's friends while they're babysitting, leaving Laurie till last.
One thing that makes this film interesting is the hint of sexual tension. Michael kills his sister and the babysitters after seeing them naked. This isn't expounded on in the film, it's left up to the viewer's imagination. It's a common sexual dilemma for religious men. They think that sexual thoughts are evil, so when a woman sexually arouses them she has to be punished. This attitude has become socially acceptable in many parts of the world. In Iran it's required that women cover their heads because hair is sexually provocative to the frustrated men around them. If a woman uncovers her head she's punished by being whipped, or worse.
Ever since "Halloween" it's been a standard trope of slasher films that the killer has one special victim in sight that he wants to kill, but he leaves her until last. It's Sidney Prescott in "Scream" and Julie James in "I know what you did last summer". If the film has sequels the special victim survives from film to film while the dead bodies pile up around her. In the Halloween films the special victim is Laurie Strode, played by Jamie Lee Curtis. (One of the weaknesses of the sequels was that she was missing from the cast). Why did Michael Myers pick her? There are two possible reasons. The first is that she was just unlucky that he saw her first after entering his old home. The second reason, the one I prefer, is that she was the most unsexual of all the girls he saw walking past his home. He spontaneously decided to kill the sluts who aroused him, but Laurie was to be the virginal sacrifice as his crowning achievement.
Success Rate: + 213.4
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