I'm binging all of the Halloween movies before the new one comes out and for the podcast. Get ready to read a lot of the same MPAA warnings over-and-over. They're all going to be meta. First of all, Michael Myers is a serial killer who tends to decorate houses with people nailed to walls with kitchen knives. It's really gross. There's a lot of blood and more than a reasonable amount of sex and nudity within. There's teenage drinking. I love the idea that you were cool with everything else and then got wildly offended by teenage drinking, but who am I to judge? R.
DIRECTOR: John Carpenter
How? That's my big question. How? As in "How did I miss entire scenes of this movie?" I love the first Halloween movie. It might be my favorite slasher film. It's so good and I'm going to preach about this for a while. But I just started watching my 35th Anniversary edition of the blu-ray and I swear there was a scene that I've never seen before. I Googled it and I'm in the wrong. Apparently, there weren't any scenes added to this blu-ray, so I'm proud to say that I've watched this just the right amount of times. I still remembered the major moments, but I was completely surprised by some of the content. How great is that? The scene I'm talking about is when Dr. Loomis and the nurse pull up to the mental hospital and there are patients just wandering the grounds in the rain. Then Michael jumps on the roof of the car and starts attacking the nurse? That scene was awesome! How did I not remember this?
I tried convincing my wife that Halloween is a great franchise. I think I was basing that on having seen the first movie a whole bunch of times and seeing H20 a whole bunch of times. Then I also loved the Rob Zombie remakes and really was hoping that she would jump on board. This was early in our marriage and she really wanted to pretend that she liked what I liked. It's okay. I give her a ton of points for trying these movies. I know that these movies aren't for everyone. Horror movies, I suppose, really aren't for everyone. But Halloween's genius lies in its simplicity and tension. I'm trying to think about what makes the first Halloween movie work so well when other slasher movies, including most of the sequels, don't. There is always a complication with the other movies. One of my other favorite slasher movies is the first Friday the 13th because it is also extremely simple. But Friday the 13th adds the complication of having a mystery behind the killer and that it is set at Camp Crystal Lake. Haddonfield is meant to be Main Street, USA. I'm pretty sure that Freddy actually says in one of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies that every town has an Elm Street. Mind you, the Nightmare mythology becomes extraordinarily tangled (like the sequels to Halloween) that we never really get to appreciate that the scary element of Halloween is that it just a piece of Americana. Michael Myers stalked the suburbs and killed without reason.
Now this brings something up that is really interesting. One of the best elements that is added to the Halloween mythos is that Laurie Strode is Michael's sister. It made Laurie special, especially knowing that she doesn't die until way later in the franchise in one of the more disrespected entries into the series. I reviewed Halloween IIa while ago for this blog and didn't particularly love it. But I watched parts 1 and 2 back-to-back and they work better as a set. Part II is the movie that reveals that Laurie is related to Michael. Watching the first movie, it's odd to think that this development wasn't part of the mythology the entire time. This brings me to an odd thought. Halloween is like Predator, the first one. We know very little about Michael Myers beyond what we absolutely need to know. We view the origin of Michael killing his sister as a little boy in a clown suit. We know that Dr. Loomis treated him for fifteen years. We know that he's evil because Loomis won't shut up about it. But that's it. There's a bunch of questions that this movie asks but has no intention of answering. It's really odd because Michael takes some damage in this movie. I'm thinking about how villains become stronger in sequels, but Michael straight up gets wrecked in this film without any explanation of how he survives. If you shut your brain off, you could say that the human body is extraordinarily resilient and we don't know the extent of injury that Michael Myers receives. But I like this so much. I normally like when the villain has limits. Again, I've established my hypocrisy throughout this blog because sometimes it matters to me, sometimes it doesn't. But there are little hints to the greater mythology of Michael Myers. The headstone in the bed is this big red flag that just adds layers to the revelation in part II.
I don't like the sex stuff. There, I said it. There was an unwritten rule that slasher / horror movies had to have drugs, drinking, and sex in them. Scream addresses this outright. These movies act like backwards morality plays. Those who indulge in vice and sexuality are punished for their crimes by being victims of the serial killer. The thing is, why is this a thing? The movies clearly are exploitative of the sex stuff. Is this an attempt to avoid parental wrath? Laurie is wholesome and innocent and survives (sorry, but she's going to be in either the foreground or the background of a lot of these movies). Do we need multiple franchises that exploit sex to sell tickets? The thing about Halloween is that the sex is incidental. I'm still saying that I like Halloween as the best slasher movie, but the sex is fundamental to the narrative of Friday the 13th. (It doesn't need to be in Friday the 13th either, but at least there's an odd narrative justification for it.) This is the opening of the film, but Michael kills his topless sister after she slept with her boyfriend. From Michael's perspective, there shouldn't be anything sexual going on there. Is her sin the motivation for his murder? That doesn't really gel with what Loomis says about Michael. Michael is almost a force of nature according to Loomis. He kills without regard and without conscience. He doesn't even really seem to enjoy it. Loomis stresses that Michael is the manifestation of evil and that is why he kills, but what does that have to do with sex. I remember parts 4-6 being absolutely terrible films, but I'm kind of interested to see what they tell me about Michael's motivations. They have to explore that, right? I'm sure there's going to be talk about cults and opening doors to Hell and whatnot. I kind of remember something like that. But I kind of want to know. Regardless, it gives Donald Pleasance a lot to work with. I love Loomis so much. I know that he somehow returns for some of the later movies. But he is such a ridiculous and over-the-top character. I don't know why having a Michael-Hunter makes the movie so good, but it really does.
Halloween will always be one of my favorite scary movies. Probably, by today's standards, it would be considered pretty slow. But slow is so great. I don't want or need a high body count in this movie. Rather, I like that I get to know the characters by the end of this film. I know that this makes me sound like a sociopath, but connecting to those characters makes them interesting. Yeah, they tend to throw their personalities in the trash the second temptation rears its ugly head, but the movie is overall pretty satisfying. I can't wait to discover some new scenes in a few years, anyway.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.