Halloween (1978)

APRIL 1, 2010

GENRE: CRAP, SLASHER
SOURCE: DVD (OWN COLLECTION - FOR NOW!)

I don't want to admit it, but I really fucking hated John Carpenter's Halloween. I know it's considered a classic, the birth of the slasher film (which isn't even accurate - Bob Clark made a nearly identical, better film in 1974 with Black Christmas - all Carpenter did was change the holiday!), a marvelous demonstration of how to use Panavision for a horror film, but none of this matters to me. The movie is just a complete waste of time.

For starters, we know who the killer is right from the start. Michael Myers kills his sister, Michael Myers escapes from the institution, and Michael Myers is the one Dr. Loomis is chasing. So why bother with the mask? Why "hide" his identity? The whole movie, I kept waiting for someone else to be revealed as the villain (my money was on Dr. Wynn, the guy that tries to keep Loomis from going to Haddonfield - now THAT would be an amazing plot twist!), but nope, it's Michael Myers, wearing a mask to hide his face for some other reason, I guess. It's no wonder that Friday the 13th decided to hide their killer for the entire movie and then reveal it to be someone we never heard of, because it's a far better surprise.

It's also a wholly plotless movie. Why is he after these girls? I could see if they were living or partying in his old house or something, but apart from a brief scene where Laurie (the obvious final girl) drops a key off at his house, he has no seeming connection to any of them. And that still doesn't explain why he would take the time to stalk Tommy on his way home from school, or fuck around with Annie's car door lock. I've read that this is what makes the film so scary, that he would go after them for no reason whatsoever, but I vehemently disagree. I think it's much better for the killer to explain his motives to the heroine before he kills her. It's more realistic.

As for Donald Pleasence's much ballyhooed performance as Dr. Loomis, well, it's probably the best thing about the movie. He's a pretty shitty doctor, constantly referring to his patient as an "it" instead of a "him" - the dude can drive and even has enough of a sense of humor to put a victim's glasses on over a sheet that he's wearing, I think he's still pretty human. And he's an even worse tracker - he spends the entire night waiting outside Michael's house, not noticing that his car is across the street. He also dissuades the police chief from warning the local news and the other cops, something that might have been helpful. You're the one convinced Michael's not even human, why would you think that 2 people are enough to stop him? Especially when one of them is YOU, a batshit bald man with an unexplained British accent? But he's more than just a little "off", carrying a gun (and a permit! You don't even need one in Illinois), fucking with some local kids, and parking in handicapped spots.

It's also a mess on a technical level. Carpenter's smoke blows through a shot at one point (has to be a movie first/last), PJ Soles noticeably trips on a dolly track, a train disappears, palm trees appear in several shots (as do CA license plates), the ground changes from wet to dry, and for some reason it takes what seems like a full hour for Annie to drive Laurie to the Doyle's house, even though he obviously lives within walking distance since they ran into each other on the way to school. I was also baffled by the fact that Michael had a mask on in the morning when it's later established that he didn't break into the hardware store to steal it until later in the afternoon (and why is the hardware store closed at that time anyway?).

I honestly think this is a case of people liking a movie just because they heard it was good from someone else. I haven't seen the remake yet, but it HAS to be an improvement over this one, right?

What say you?

P.S. Some of you might think I watched this on the wrong holiday, and to some extent you may be right. I doubt I would feel this way on any other day of the year.

P.S.S. OK apparently the above P.S. (or the "haven't seen the remake yet" line) wasn't a big enough hint, so here: THIS WAS AN APRIL FOOL'S DAY JOKE. I love the original Halloween more than anything in the world, which is abundantly clear if you read the site regularly (or even, you know, the real review). Everything in THIS review is meant to be a joke/lie. Christ.


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27 comments:

  1. ; ) Took me a minute...

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  2. Funny you should mention black christmas... if you listen to the commentary, director Bob Clark states that he was writing a sequel to Black Christmas while working with Carpenter on an unnamed project and decided to give the idea to Carpenter, who was soon offered a TV movie called "The Babysitter Murders". How much of Clark's script is Halloween is unknown but they are very similar.

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  3. Remake is sooooooo much better! Only horror flick better is Shutter.

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  4. Haha April fools.

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  5. I wondered what you would do this time around! Nice!

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  6. Okay, ya got me with the first few paragraphs. Haha!

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  7. .....yeah, and the music is terrible...it's so repetitious, I mean, how uninspired can you get??!!

    :)

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  8. This movie is such a waste of time with its "suspense" and "mood" and "tension" and "likeable characters." I've got three words for Mr. Carpenter: add more rednecks.

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  9. Ooooohhhh, you so got me. I was ready to delete HMAD from my favorites! That's TWICE now today. B-D got me earlier.

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  10. Well done! I was reading this and thinking "I can't believe he's saying these terrible things about Halloween! HALLOWEEN! Is he on drugs? Is it opposite day? Is it...oh. Right!"

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  11. Okay... At first, I was like "NOW, with everything else I have to do, I have to drive out and find this dude and ... school him."

    But we are good now.

    ;)

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  12. And Armageddon sucks, too!!!

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  13. Haha I guess not many people here have picked up from other reviews how much you love this movie... I love how you didn't even mention all the technical mistakes (which would be valid complaints if they actually detracted from how awesome the movie is).

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  14. APRIL FOOL'S!!!! YOU didn't fool me!

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  15. Wow. There's a lot about you I don't know. Lot about you I don't know. I don't know. Don't know. Know.

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  16. Yahoo! Someone brave enough to complain! Yeah, the location was just ridiculous--nothing about it felt like autumn except the crappy same 50 leaves they kept throwing in front a fan. The killer is un-killable? Why? How? The girlie babble between the girls seems like they had no dialogue and were told to wing it. "I always forget my books. Who needs biology books? I don't need books..." Rambling, rambling, rambling chit chat. I have a theory that the reason this is so big was the concept of a masked killer which every Halloween people freak out when they see people in masks because you don't know who's behind it and the second reason it's a success is there just are only a tiny handful of Halloween night movies--why is that? How in the hell can the industry ignore the night that provokes the most fear? "Trick R Treat" was a horrible plot, but damn--it really recreated the Halloween night feel really well. So, until someone has the cajones to make a horror movie that takes place on Halloween night, we'll still play that same droning soundtrack and movie over and over again each year...

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  17. Hey BC,

    I see that some people seem to have fallen for your April Fool's Day joke, but I just wanted to make sure that you detected the sarcasm in my previous comment- thus the smiley face! (It's quite hard to get sarcasm across in words I suppose). I actually love Halloween- it is my favorite horror movie (not a April Fool's joke).

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  18. Carpenter is overrated, yes. I hated what he did to "The Thing," had the potential to be the perfect adaptation of the great short story, and the only thing wrong was Carpenter fouling it up, the people splitting up after they have established who's who, the inconclusive ending when there can be no inconclusive ending. The world ends or it doesn't. But I'm crazy about Pleasance, and what you criticize seems to be the writing instead of Pleasance's performance. And I think Connecticut is the only state in which you can carry a concealed pistol without a permit.

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  19. I need to get a font in which you can actually see italics, LOL.

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  20. "Remake is sooooo much better! Only horror flick better is Shutter."

    I'd like to be clear on this: I was joking. I don't want to be taken for that kind of fool. Even anonymously.

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  21. I am a great fan of John Carpenter's movies and I think he is the man who gave some remarkable releases like vampires, the thing. Can you provide me name of some good movies directed by John Carpenter?

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  22. i agree with you...
    the movie sucks..

    Rob Zombies was better..

    yes i know it was an April Fools Joke..
    but im not kidding..haha

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  23. My uncle send me a newspaper article yesterday which stated that the German state of Hessen is going to buy an island from Greece to help the country out of bankruptcy and push Hessen as a vacational destination for Germans. That was pretty much the funniest one this year until just now... Thanks for this review!

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  24. i bought this for a split second.

    i did notice, last time i watched the movie, about the mask/hardware store break in.

    Who cares, eh? It's still my all time favorite.

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  25. The hardware store sign actually says the place is open

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  26. Damn, that was a good joke.Every horror fan I know LOVES the original Halloween

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