31 Days of Halloween Day 31 – Halloween (1978)

31 Days of Halloween – Day 31

“Black cats and goblins and broomsticks and ghosts,
Covens of witches with all of their hosts
You may think they scare me, you’re probably right
Black cats and goblins On Halloween night”

Halloween (directed by John Carpenter, 1978) Typically, October 31st is the day we reserve on the calendar jack-o-lanterns, candy and costumes, and fun. Little ghosts and goblins roam the streets, going door-to-door for sweets. But in Haddonfield, Halloween took on a whole new meaning. Instead of tricks-or-treats, terror and fear fill people’s hearts. You see, October 31st is the night he came home. On Halloween night, 1963, a young boy named Michael Myers was left under the care of his older sister, Judith. Dressed as a clown, Michael climbed the stairs up to his sister’s room, pulled his mask over his face, and stabbed his sister to death. Fast forward fifteen years to Smiths Grove mental institute, where Michael has been a patient since the murder of his sister. Myers manages to escape, and returns to Haddonfield. Dr. Sam Loomis, Michael’s psychiatrist, heads to the town to try and intercept the now-adult psychopath. Loomis knows that what lies behind Michael’s dead eyes is pure evil, and realizes that the residents of Haddonfield could be in danger. After stealing an expressionless mask from the local five-and-dime store, Michael is now at large and disguised. Laurie Strode is a typical teenager, and along with her friends Annie and Lynda, become the targets of The Shape (the name given to Michael by the writers). Laurie heads out to her babysitting job, unaware that she, or the other girls are being stalked by the faceless killer. She soon discovers that her life is in danger, and must fight to survive her attacker. Dr. Loomis pieces together Michael’s intentions, but will it be too late? Can he save Laurie and stop The Shape from claiming one more victim on Halloween? This film is a study on how to get more from less. From the shoestring budget, to the minimal use of gore, to the simple story, John Carpenter’s Halloween is a home-run. The suspense and atmosphere are second to none, aided by a soundtrack that is as much part of the film as any other character. The violence is subtle, but realistic and believable. The Shape is the perfect villain. He does not stand out, he is emotionless, and becomes part of the shadows. He speaks no dialogue, remains masked, and does not command any sympathy from the audience what so ever. This makes us more sympathetic to Laurie, as she flees from the monster. It is not until Halloween II that we learn the whole back story of Michael’s family tie to Myers. The story of Halloween leaves a lot open for interpretation. We are unsure of Michael’s motives, or why he targeted these particular babysitters. The character of Dr. Loomis is important because his dialogue paints a picture of Myers as a calculated killer, and helps make Michael loom even larger. Jamie Lee Curtis is perfect as the girl-next door, all-American teenager. Halloween was her big screen debut, and she nails it as Laurie. The accomplished Donald Pleasence made great use of limited screen time, but became a horror icon as Dr, Sam Loomis. John Carpenter has brought to life numerous classic horror and sci-fi films, and Halloween fits right into that category. Numerous sequels have been made, but the only one that matters is Halloween II, which continues the story immediately after Halloween ends. If you are going to watch one film on Halloween, don’t you think it should a movie named after the occasion? There are scarier films, but there is something special about this one. To me, it encompasses everything a horror movie should be. I love Halloween because of Halloween, and vice versa.

I have really had a fun time over the last month writing about the films I consider must see Halloween viewing. I made it my mission to watch every film, whether I have watched it a couple times, or twenty five times. There were things I noticed about each film I never noticed before, and realized that there are moments that still make me cringe or give me a shiver down my spine. This is why I love these movies. I hope you can cherish them as much as I do. Thank you for reading. It has been a pleasure.

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Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
  • Day 10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Day 11 – Near Dark
  • Day 12 – The Lost Boys
  • Day 13 – Child’s Play
  • Day 14 – Sleepy Hollow
  • Day 15 – House of 1,000 Corpses
  • Day 16 – The Devil’s Rejects
  • Day 17 – Night of the Living Dead
  • Day 18 – Dawn of the Dead (’78)
  • Day 19 – Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
  • Day 20 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  • Day 21 – The Cabin In The Woods
  • Day 22 – A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
  • Day 23 – The Exorcist III
  • Day 24 – The Evil Dead (1981)
  • Day 25 – The Blair Witch Project
  • Day 26 – The Shining
  • Day 27 – Trick r Treat
  • Day 28 – An American Werewolf in London
  • Day 29 – The Changeling
  • Day 30 – The Exorcist
  • Day 31 – Halloween (1978)

T.

Top Five Favourite Halloween Movie Deaths

The Halloween film franchise has always been my favorite. Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th are close seconds, but there is something more appealing to me about Michael Myers. “The Shape” has the expressionless white mask, and seems to be a more “hands on” murderer. A knife or a simple choking always seem to be his go to methods. The series has gone down hill in quality and originality, but the original Halloween and Halloween II are classics as far as I’m concerned. I even enjoy Rob Zombie’s 2007 Re-imagining, with a much larger and imposing Shape (played by Tyler Mane). A few of the sequels are decent, but lack the charm and atmosphere of the 1978 John Carpenter classic. The second sequel Halloween III: Season of the Witch is an entertaining watch, and actually quite original, but has nothing to do with the Michael Myers storyline, so I have not included any deaths from it in this list. These five deaths are not the most brutal, or most gory of the series. These are simply my favorite for reasons I will give with each one. Please enjoy!

5. Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)   Oops! – Ok, so this is technically not one of Michael Myers’ kills, but he is indirectly responsible. Basically, Michael returns to Haddonfield after 10 years to finish off his only remaining heir. The town’s rednecks are getting shit faced at the local tavern and learn through a television newscast that Michael is at large. Well, now it’s time to take the law into their drunken hands. The posse storms out of the bar and goes to make a citizen’s arrest. It goes badly. Poor Ted Hollister is creeping around some bushes and becomes the victim of mistaken identity. Please, if you are drunk and decide to go out and mob an escaped lunatic, make sure you ask questions first, and shoot second.

4. Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007)   Batters Up! – A young Michael Myers could have made the Major Leagues with a swing like this! Poor Steve Haley was famished after having sex with Michael’s sister Judith. So when you are hungry, you make a sandwich in the kitchen. Unfortunately at the Myers’ house, even snacks are danger. His thirst results in a crushing baseball bat blow to the top of the head. This one makes me cringe each time I see it. Lesson? Michael Myers is not a fan of you banging his sister. Or stealing his lunch meat.

3. Halloween (1978)   Oh Brother… – This is the opening scene of Halloween, and really sets the tone for the entire film. The scene is ninety-five percent shot as it was from a young Michael Myers’ perspective.  Judith is supposed to be watching Michael on Halloween night. As it turns out, she is entertaining her boyfriend in her upstairs bedroom. We follow Michael’s perspective as he observes his sister’s promiscuity. After he waits until Judith’s suitor leaves,  he goes into the kitchen to retrieve a large knife. He makes his way upstairs, pulls his mask down and stabs his sister multiple times. All this done while dressed in his clown costume. His parents return home to find their son standing on the sidewalk holding the knife that butchered Judith. I am not sure if Carpenter intended this as an homage to the famous point-of-view shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, but the result is as effective. A very simple and personal introductory murder for the young psychopath Michael.

2. Halloween (1978)   Annie’s Death – The original John Carpenter’s Halloween was great for numerous reasons. The music score was perfect, the acting was believable, the tension and suspense was beautifully done, but I feel the best reason was the simplistic nature of the film. The film was believable because it was not over the top and gory. The killing was minimal and done in a personal manner, which made Michael Myers have a human element. Annie’s death is a great example of a smart, simple, and suspenseful film work. While you are watching, you know Michael is there, stalking Annie, but you don’t know when. Michael is a smart, patient predator that waits until he knows Annie is absolutely alone and vulnerable. The detail is pinpoint, right down to the steam on the inside of the car windows that is generated by Michael’s breathing. The shot of young Tommy witnessing Michael carrying Annie’s lifeless body across the front yard is a nice touch.

1. Halloween II (1981)   A Real Lady Killer… – Michael seems to have a real problem with people’s promiscuity. Nurse Karen decides to take her break with ambulance driver Bud…naked…in the hospitals hot tub room. This should have been Bud’s lucky day, but it wasn’t meant to be. Things are getting hot and heavy in the tub, too hot for Karen actually. She send Bud out to turn the thermostat down (which Michael has cranked right up). Bud is easily dispatched while Karen waits for him to return. Michael enters, Karen thinks it is bud standing behind her and she begins seducing “Bud” by sucking on his fingers. “Do you want to go for breakfast after?” she asks. She doesn’t know that Michael is only hungry for death. Michael drowns/burns Karen by repeatedly shoving her face into the boiling hot tub water. This is my favorite death because it was the first attempted seduction of Michael Myers, and because it is the first time I remember being exposed to a half nude woman when I was a child. Those types of milestones are exciting and not easily forgotten. (I have included the PG edited version video. Sorry fellas.)

T.