This week, Jenni and Terri decided to spend their time with John Carpenter’s original “Halloween,” as a tribute to Rob Zombie’s just-released “Halloween II.” After last week’s serving of gratuitous gore and soft-core porn, Terri seemed to appreciate “Halloween”’s more cerebral touch. Don’t take my word for it though! Hit the jump for Jenni & Terri’s thorough dissection of one of horror’s true classics.
Terri: So Jenni, what did you think when you rewatched “Halloween”?
Jenni: I didn’t remember that Laurie smoked pot. She’s usually pegged as the typical “good girl.” I guess that’s a funny thing to think of first, but yeah.
Terri: I agree. Its kind of a sign of the times, I guess. When I saw her do that I had a similar reaction where I thought oh, I guess she’s not such a good girl after all. But it was the 70s, after all. I’d seen the Rob Zombie version before and — not to bring it up too much — it’s really interesting to see the discrepancies between the two in terms of what a “good girl” was then in terms of attitude and actions and clothing (!) versus now. I’ve got to say, I wasn’t too scared by the film in terms of the actually “scary” moments in it.
Jenni: Yeah, it’s not really that scary at home in your living room. But I remember seeing it when it was first remastered and being so scared and impressed that suddenly I could see Michael Meyers in all these different scenes I hadn’t seen him in before.
Terri: I think one of my favorite aspects of the film was its message — the idea that a Michael Meyers could be anywhere and anyone, even an innocent child. John Carpenter was saying something beyond just trying to scare you — or at least trying to make the fear something that stays with you longer. It’s something that, say, “The Gore Gore Girls” was lacking, and many other horror movies nowadays are too.
Jenni: Well, “The Gore Gore Girls” was basically just like soft-core and excessive violence for dudes, whereas “Halloween” I think has a broader appeal. Maybe not at the time, but now. I personally like Rob Zombie, but I can definitely see how trying to explain away Michael Meyrs’ blankness or lack of reason with psychobabble takes away from the terror of the original. I haven’t seen Zombie’s sequel yet.
Terri: I agree. I almost wanted a little bit more of the young Michael Meyers at the beginning, since it’s just a brief flash where you actually see he is just an average young child, but the back-story took away from the whole idea of the original “Halloween.” I love the final sequence, when it’s just shots of the houses on an average suburban street with Myers’ heavy breathing in the background.
Jenni: Yeah that’s the great part about seeing it on a DVD and not VHS, is that you get all those things. I’m sure it would be scarier in a theater because of stuff like that. Laurie is a really compelling character, because she’s not mean or badass, she’s still scared, but she does what she can, and I love how batty Loomis is. He’s just insane.
Terri: Loomis was great! I think I was corrupted by the few horror movies I have seen at the police chief’s ready acceptance that Michael was returning to his original home, but then I realized he had escaped so there was some believability there. I thought Laurie was really very interesting, especially since there is no reason given in this film as to why she was chosen. It goes along with the whole idea of “it can happen to anyone.”
Jenni: Well… that’s sort of explained in the second one.
Terri: I know later it is revealed she is his sister, but I like the ambiguity of this.
Jenni: So how does “Halloween” compare to the other horror movies you’ve seen?
Terri: It struck me as a movie that was made more to be a good film than a good scary movie, which is lacking so often in the horror genre nowadays. Its part of what I’ve found off-putting about movies like “Hostel” or all of the various “Saw” rip-offs. Their sole purpose seems to be to gross you out or make you not be able to sleep at night, and they often do it at the expense of decent filmmaking. I think “Halloween” has a broader appeal because it carries some weight behind it. It says, “behind the face of innocence, there can be this evil, and it can happen anywhere and at any time.” And that’s truly frightening. Why is this one of your favorite horror movies, Jenni?
Jenni: You know, I feel like “Halloween” has lost a bit of its magic for me, and I’m not sure why anymore. I still think it’s a classic, but it doesn’t give me the same frisson of delight (!!) as Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” It did fascinate and scare me when I first saw it, but it’s a different experience now. And I still think it’s an interesting and “important” part of the horror canon.
Terri: I’m not too familiar with how “Halloween” fits into the horror genre. Was there anything like it before, or was it unique in and of itself?
Jenni: “Halloween” came out in 1978. The original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” hit in 1974, and it’s one of the early genre movies that features a “chick who lives to the end” protagonist. They’re cut from the same genre cloth, but “Chainsaw” was gorier whereas “Halloween” is almost… classier.
Terri: Understandable! So how should we wrap this bad girl up? Final thoughts?
Jenni: Jamie Lee Curtis rocks. John Carpenter once had quite the magic touch. People need to stop remaking his movies, like “Assault on Precinct 13,” “Halloween,” etc.
Terri: Jamie Lee Curtis rocks, but she was born to look 30. I could not believe how young she was when she filmed this!
Terri: Horror movies are better when made with a semblance of forethought and effort. “Halloween” may not have withstood the test of time, but is still a classic.
Jenni: I think it does stand the test of time, really, because it remains very watchable.
Terri: I don’t think it’s as scary now as it must have been then. Either that or I’m too cynical.
Jenni: No, this is definitely more subtle.
Terri: Having my friend sing “Here I go, walking down the street” while Loomis was patrolling the area ruined all the horror for me, and spawned my “Halloween: The Musical” idea.
Jenni: I am all for a “Halloween” musical.