“I met him, fifteen years ago; I was told there was nothing left; no reason, no conscience, no understanding; and even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes... the devil's eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... evil.”
- Dr. Sam Loomis
The year was 1985 and I was spending the weekend with my great grandparents. Nor sure why we’d been dumped on them and not sent to my father’s while mom did whatever she was doing that weekend but there we were. Reaching back as far as I can in my memory I think mom and my pseudo step dad were having a date weekend and since this was before my father’s long streak of sobriety my great grandparents were probably the best choice to watch us.
I’m not complaining about it. I loved my great grandparents a lot. They were fun to spend time with and whenever we were there they’d let us just be kids. None of the normal drama of my childhood was carried over to their home. Their home was a sanctuary and I always felt safe… also grandpa had a stack of porno mags a foot high so win for young Josh.
Where the hell was I?
Oh yeah, Halloween.
It was on that weekend in October of 1985 that I first saw one of the greatest movies ever made. Not just one of the greatest horror movies but one of the greatest movies period. You don’t agree with me? Well come at me bro and we can do this Fight Club style but I get to be Meatloaf with his man teats!
Halloween scared the ever loving piss out of me… and I loved every second of it. Seriously I think watching Halloween might be the first movie that hit the endorphin switch in my brain, the one that equates pain with pleasure but instead of pain for me it was fear. I’m saying I get off on being afraid but I’m not, NOT saying it either.
Halloween might be the first smart horror movie. It set the bar for all that came before and while some horror flicks may have eventually done it better Halloween and John Carpenter did it first.
*Side Note: Before you horror fan boys and fan girls jump down my throat I am well aware Black Christmas came first and set the initial slasher movie tropes. But the truth is that while Black Christmas is a cult hit and a really good horror movie Halloween was a juggernaut.*
Michael Meyers is up there with Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Leatherface as the godfathers of the modern horror genre. He is an unstoppable and indecipherable killing machine. There is no reasoning with him and if he decides it’s your time to go you might as well sit there and take it. Michael is awesome but he is not why I love this movie, I don’t even think he’s a particularly great horror movie villain.
Yeah, you read that right, I’m not a fan of Mr. Meyers.
The real star of the Halloween series is Doctor Samuel Loomis. Played by one of the greatest actors of the twentieth century, Donald Pleasence, the character is the modern archetype of the obsessed doctor. He will do anything and everything, up to and including dying, in order to stop Michael. Loomis is the scariest thing about Halloween, his obsession and never ending drive is highly unnerving. I truly believe he would have sot every child on the streets of Haddonfield that night if it guaranteed he’d be able to stop Michael.
Loomis is the badass in Halloween not Michael.
Halloween is a 1978 American independent slasher horror film directed and scored by John Carpenter, co-written with producer Debra Hill, and starring Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis in her film debut. The film was the first installment in what has become the Halloween franchise. The plot is set in the fictional Midwestern town of Haddonfield, Illinois. On Halloween night in 1963, a six-year-old Michael Myers murders his older sister by stabbing her with a kitchen knife. Fifteen years later, he escapes from a psychiatric hospital, returns home, and stalks teenager Laurie Strode and her friends. Michael's psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis suspects Michael's intentions, and follows him to Haddonfield to try to prevent him from killing.
Halloween was produced on a budget of $325,000 and grossed $47 million at the box office in the United States, and $70 million worldwide, equivalent to $250 million as of 2014, becoming one of the most profitable independent films. Many critics credit the film as the first in a long line of slasher films inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960). Halloween had many imitators and originated several clichés found in low-budget horror films of the 1980s and 1990s. Unlike many of its imitators, Halloween contains little graphic violence and gore. In 2006, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
Some critics have suggested that Halloween may encourage sadism and misogyny by identifying audiences with its villain. Other critics have suggested the film is a social critique of the immorality of youth and teenagers in 1970s America, with many of Myers's victims being sexually promiscuous substance abusers, while the lone heroine is depicted as innocent and pure, hence her survival. Nevertheless, Carpenter dismisses such analyses. Several of Halloween 's techniques and plot elements, although not founded in this film, have nonetheless become standard slasher movie tropes.
On the night of October 31, 1963, in Haddonfield, Illinois, 6-year-old Michael Myers (Will Sandin) kills his older sister Judith Myers (Sandy Johnson) by stabbing her with a chef's knife. Fifteen years later, on October 30, 1978, Michael escapes Warren County Smith's Grove Sanitarium, where he had been committed since the murder, stealing the car that was to take him to a court hearing, the intention of which was for him to never be released.
The following day, Halloween, 21-year-old Michael, now dressed in a blue jumpsuit and a white mask, returns to his hometown of Haddonfield and begins stalking high school student Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). Laurie informs her friends, Annie Brackett (Nancy Kyes) and Lynda van der Klok (P. J. Soles), that she believes someone is following her but they dismiss her concerns. Later at her house, Laurie becomes startled to see Michael outside in the yard staring into her room. Elsewhere, Michael's psychiatrist, Dr. Samuel Loomis (Donald Pleasence), having anticipated Michael's return home, goes to the local cemetery only to discover that Judith Myers' headstone is missing. Later, Loomis approaches Annie's father, Sheriff Leigh Brackett (Charles Cyphers), and the two quietly look for Michael.
That night, Laurie babysits Tommy Doyle (Brian Andrews), while Annie babysits Lindsay Wallace (Kyle Richards) across the street from the Doyle house. When Annie gets a call from her boyfriend Paul asking her to pick him up, she drops Lindsay off at the Doyle house. Annie gets in her car to pick up Paul but Michael, who was hiding in the backseat of her car, strangles her before slitting her throat, killing her. At the Doyle house, while he plays hide-and-seek with Lindsay, Tommy spots Michael carrying Annie's corpse and tries to tell Laurie, who doesn't believe in any "boogeyman" that Tommy says he saw. Later that evening, Lynda and her boyfriend Bob enter the Wallace house and have sex in the upstairs bedroom. While downstairs to get a beer for Lynda, Bob is attacked by Michael, who kills him by pinning him to the wall with his knife. Michael then appears in the bedroom doorway, pretending to be Bob in a ghost costume. Gaining no response from him, Lynda becomes annoyed and calls Laurie, just as Michael kills her by strangling her with the telephone cord.
Feeling unsettled, Laurie puts Tommy and Lindsay to bed and goes to the Wallace house, where she discovers the corpses of Annie, Bob, and Lynda. She is suddenly attacked by Michael and falls backwards down the staircase. Fleeing the house, she screams for help, but to no avail. Running back to the Doyle house, she realizes she lost the keys and the door is locked, as she sees Michael approaching in the distance. Laurie panics and screams for Tommy to wake up and open the door quickly. Luckily, Tommy opens the door in time and lets Laurie inside. Laurie instructs Tommy and Lindsay to hide and then realizes the phone line is dead and that Michael has gotten into the house through a window. As she sits down in horror next to the couch, Michael appears and tries to stab her, but she stabs him in the side of his neck with a knitting needle.
Laurie goes upstairs telling Tommy and Lindsay she killed the "boogeyman", but Michael reappears in pursuit of her. Telling the kids to hide and lock themselves in the bathroom, Laurie opens a window to feign escape and hides in a bedroom closet. Michael punches a hole in the closet door to get to her. However, Laurie frantically undoes a clothes hanger to stick Michael in the eye, and stabs Michael with his own knife. Michael collapses and Laurie exits the closet, then tells the children to go find help. Dr. Loomis sees Tommy and Lindsay running away from the house and suspects Michael could be inside. Back inside, Michael gets up and tries to strangle Laurie, but Dr. Loomis arrives in time to save her. Loomis shoots Michael in the chest at point-blank range, who then falls from the second-story patio onto the lawn below. Laurie asks Loomis if that was the "boogeyman", to which Loomis confirms. However, when Loomis looks over the balcony, he finds Michael's body is missing.
Interesting fact about Halloween, there is almost no blood. I’m serious, I’ve had arguments about this with people and we’ve sat down to watch it together. There’s only blood in one scene, at the beginning when Judith Meyers is murdered, in Halloween. John Carpenter made what is considered one of the best horror movies of all time and never spilled more than a few drops of cinematic blood.
I’ve watched episodes of Law & Order gorier than Halloween. Now that’s a movie I want to see, Jerry Orbach and Jesse Martin fighting Michael Meyers in New York. I need to copyright that idea… wait I don’t want Mustapha Akkad or Dick Wolf suing me.
Like all of the successful horror movies Halloween spawned a franchise, albeit a strange and convoluted one. Halloween 2 was a direct sequel to the first movie and picks up the story immediately after the first ended. I like Halloween 2 but I tend to be in the minority. It’s a pure slasher movie with none of the subtle horror of the first one but still a fun popcorn flick.
Halloween 3 has nothing to do with Michael Meyers. The movie was an attempt to turn the Halloween series into a string of anthology films with a Halloween theme. I’m not going to go into part three but I will say it’s an excellent movie. If you’ve never seen it then search it out and watch it. If you like unique horror you’ll enjoy this one.
Unless you’re a filthy communist.
Halloween 4 and Halloween 5 pull the same trick as parts one and two. They are essentially one movie broken into two pieces. That being said one of them is a solid horror movie and the other is a tired and confused piece of shit.
Halloween 4 is a fun movie. There’s nothing new in it and in many ways it’s a rip off of Friday The 13th but it’s a movie I can watch over and over without getting bored. Michael is scary, the story is tight, and Loomis is at the top of his game. The horror and gore are amped and there’s plenty of fan service. It’s a fun and preposterous movie that I highly recommend, although I saw it on AMC a few years ago and I thought, “This is an American Classic?” standards seem to be slipping.
Halloween 5 is a horrible fucking movie and it shouldn’t be. They had all of the same tools they had with part 4, I think they literally went from making one to the other, and they managed to fuck it up. Not because the story is substantially dumber. Not because the gore has been toned down. Not because the acting is really any worse, Loomis is great as always. The reason his movie sucks hairy badger balls is because it’s FUCKING BORING!
That was cathartic.
Halloween 6 is a mess. Donald Pleasence died before the movie was finished and massive editorial changes lead to different ending than was originally written and filmed. All of that said I love this movie. It’s the movie version of Dominos Pizza. Cheap, sloppy, the toppings all slide off in the box, the driver is always late, and I love every bite.
Right now you’re expecting me to begin discussing the previously alluded to convoluted part of the franchise. Of course I am talking about Halloween H2O and Halloween Resurrection both of which are direct sequels to parts one and two thereby invalidating parts 4-6. These two movies saw the return of Jamie Lee Curtis to the Laurie Stroud role in H2O and the beginning of Resurrection where she was killed off at her own insistence.
I refuse to talk about them.
Nope not gonna do it, I can’t stand these movies.
Okay that’s it for Halloween… oh shit I forgot about Rob Zombie.
Okay, short and sweet. Rob Zombie re-imagined the original Halloween in 2007 and followed it up with his own unique sequel. Rob is a good film maker and I actually like the re-imagining of the first movie. It was a slightly twisted take on the tale and while not as good as Carpenters it was a fun watch. Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 is an unmitigated disaster. It pains me to say that considering my love for the source material and respect for the man who created but that’s what it is, a hot mess of stupid.
And with that we close the door on Halloween.
Next time we reach the number one movie on my list. I think it’s fair to say I’ve saved the best and scariest for last. As the little boy who lives in Danny’s mouth says… REDRUM.
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