Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween ★★★★

     Halloween is one of the most intriguing holidays in the history of the world. It embodies many things, including fear and celebration. It also takes place during the most beautiful time of the year; when the earth expresses so many delicate colors and when there is a slight sense of nostalgia in the air. John Carpenter's "Halloween" is a 1978 horror film that takes the essence of this holiday and bottles it up for the viewer to open time and time again.

    This film begins in fictional Haddonfield, Illinois, in 1963. The camera directs us through the subjective viewpoint of a little boy on Halloween night. This innocent young boy is Michael Myers, who we soon find out is not as innocent as we think. After committing a sinister act in which he murders his sister, young Michael wonders out into the front yard only to be discovered by his parents with a bloody butcher's knife and a look of complete bewilderment. We then fast forward fifteen years to Halloween 1978. Myers has escaped imprisonment from a mental institution and has stolen an official's station wagon for transportation. He travels back to the only place he has ever known, Haddonfield, where he proceeds to stalk some local teenage girls.

    The acting in "Halloween" exceeds what you would generally expect from a horror film. The man behind the mask of Myers, a character that is also famously known as "The Shape," is Nick Castle. Although Myers has no dialogue, Castle had to delicately control this monster through his motions and movements. He had to make sure he didn't seem too mechanical while not moving too swift or human-like. Donald Pleasence steps into the role of Dr. Sam Loomis; Loomis is the health official in charge of keeping Myers out of the public eye--and once Myers escapes from confinement--he frantically tries to track him down.

    Pleasence takes this role in stride and genuinely comes off as a scared and nervous individual. He knows the evil which could potentially wreck havoc on the small little town of Haddonfield, and he explains so to the local Sheriff in one particularly brilliant scene that Michael is "no man," but "pure evil." Laurie Strode is the innocent babysitter who becomes the focal point of Myers' murderous intentions. After he first gets a glimpse of her, "The Shape" continues to stalk Laurie and her friends into the evening. Laurie Strode is played by Jamie Lee Curtis in her first professional acting role. (This, of course, famously launched her acting career.) Curtis is true to this role as the innocent bookworm who cares more about her studies than mingling with boys or substance abuse.

    With this film, John Carpenter has molded a timeless classic in the horror genre. Many films since have duplicated numerous aspects from this picture and have tried to mimic them with unsuccessful results. Carpenter is brilliantly patient with his camera movements and occasionally surprises the audience with a startling movement or musical score. Coincidentally, Carpenter also wrote the music for this film, which fuels the paranoia and fear that surrounds the audience. Debra Hill also deserves a substantial amount of credit for her role in the production of the film and the writing of the screenplay. The cast and crew for this film were extremely young at the time, and it definitely shapes this picture to a certain extent. It gives off a sense of their youth--and in the case of Curtis--innocence. My only issue with this film would be the timing of filming. It was filmed in the spring, and it truly disappoints me that they did not film in autumn. I understand the excitement and politics behind an October release; however, the beauty that could have been will always linger with me.

    "Halloween" is a gripping film that will leave your pulses throbbing for the entire ninety minutes. It continues to be celebrated and rightfully so. Carpenter claims that to film a drama or comedy is a very tense process and serious in mood. On the other hand, filming a horror movie lightens up the mood; it allows the actors and director to be more comfortable and laid back. I would assume that "fear" is the emotion that allows all of this to happen. "Halloween" exhibits all of these aspects and will rest in the memories of us all as the ultimate horror gem.

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