Classics Revisited: Halloween

Let me begin by apologizing for my radio silence. I don’t have a good excuse… just a lot of little things got in the way of my posting… one of those thing, which, I am sure you’re not at all surprised by was Batman: Arkham Knight. In order to make up for this I’ll be putting up three posts today. So, if you’re going by posts per week (instead of posts per day) I’m on track… right? Now that I’ve included a justification that will allow me to sleep at night, let me give you a quick rundown of what to expect. This first post (as the title suggests) will deal with a specific movie. The second post will be a short Random Thought, about horror movie gags (with a couple of Youtube videos as examples). Then, I’ll end with my usual weekly roundup (which, will actually cover the last two weeks, since I apparently forgot to do one for last week). Alright… let’s get started!

A few weeks ago I watched what could be considered the root from which all modern slasher-films sprout, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (to be fair, a strong case could be made for Psycho… though, I think of that movie more as a proto slasher-film… maybe I’ll watch that next week). I then moved on to the first B-movie slasher-film, Friday the 13th. Therefore, it only seemed appropriate to continue along the path and close out the holy trinity by watching Halloween. In many ways, this should be considered the first mainstream slasher-film. That might be why, and this is probably going to shock and upset some of you, I never particularly liked this film. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Halloween is a bad movie (I really rather not risk retaliation for such a blasphemous statement), but, let’s face it, something has to come in last… hell, we all have our least favorite Beatle (I’m looking at you Paul)… so… I guess what I’m saying is that Halloween is my Paul McCartney of core slasher-films: I appreciate it’s place in history and can even enjoy it when observing it in its place among these other films, but I’m never going to choose to watch this film on its own (… Wings… ). So, know that I’ve run that analogy completely into the ground, let me take a second to explain myself. The mainstream nature of the film is exactly why I’m not a huge fan. First, my tastes, when it comes to horror movies (okay, when it comes to most things) tend to drift towards the bizarre, the strange, the subcultural. This explains my love for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Hooper (the writer and director) wasn’t trying to make a crowd-pleaser, he was trying to make something no one had ever seen before, something that would test the conventions of the mainstream movie-going populace, something that would shock and disturb… this is a movie that I want to see. Halloween, for all of its structural brilliance (and it is structurally tight… much more so than the other two sides of the slasher-film trinity) is quite bland. The other reason the mainstream nature of Halloween bugs me is that this movie, because of its very nature, is to blame for the glut of horrible slasher-films of the 80s and 90s.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy the movie… you can’t argue against the pacing and structure of this movie… it’s just that I would much rather watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Friday the 13thhands down. This does not mean that my watching of Halloween was a wasted experience… quite the opposite, in fact… I enjoyed this viewing much more than any of my previous viewings. Maybe because I’ve been watching so many (bad) horror movies as of late, maybe because I was consciously watching it for its historic value, maybe because I watched it in such close vicinity to the other core slasher-movies… whatever the reason, it was a wonderful experience.

Instead of going through the plot (you must all know it by now… right?), or writing up a complete analysis of the film (this has been done to death), I think I’ll just provide you with some of the random thoughts I had during this sitting:

  • What these three movies (Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Friday the 13th) all have in common is that they lack a supernatural element (at least for the first installment of each franchise). The killer is human… though, perhaps slightly more resilient than most humans. In the end, that’s probably why these films resonate so strongly with the populace. There is a sense of realism to this… most of us know that we’re not going to get possessed by a demon, sucked into the television by a poltergeist, or attacked by a monster… but there feels like there’s always a possibility of being the victim of a maniac (thank you “the media”). Also, this is why I do not consider A Nightmare on Elm Street a slasher-film… although it hits nearly every tenant of the subgenre, the antagonist is clearly supernatural.
  • It is very strange to me that Michael Myers is only twenty-three (it gives his age in the closing credits). He’s just a kid… don’t get me wrong, he’s a monster of a man… but he’s the same age as many of my students… weird…
  • One interesting and unique element of the film is that there is no sense of mystery about the killer or his origins. We are introduced to Michael Myers in the opening scene. We know who he is and why he killers (simply because he’s a psychopath) from the jump.
  • There is a surprising lack of blood or gore in the movie… though, you wouldn’t think so if you’re not paying attention. In fact, if you took the nudity out, I’m guessing the movie would get a PG-13 rating today.

Well, that’s all I have.


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