1978. One of the most frightening things that sank into my juvenile brain was the phrase, "You can't kill the boogeyman." 8-year-old Tomm'�s prophetic words have echoed Michael Myers through seven sequels and now its first remake. Rob Zombie, who made the very fine The Devil's Rejects
(with one of my favorite actors, Bill Moseley) is resurrecting Halloween
In celebration of Zombie's effort I'm listing my memories of the original here:
I was an insecure victim of puberty, frightened of catching a beating from numerous parties but driven to test myself with horror films I wasn't allowed to see. Halloween
was a taboo, R-rated film and 1978 was prior to multiplexes and cable in every house. It was difficult for 12-year-olds to see but that didn't stop me from having an intense experience with the movie long before seeing it. The entire film was described to me in minute detail, the description easily taking twice the duration of the movie, a dozen different times before I dared look at a frame of it.
One of the major elements of splatter is tying sexual excitement to terror. Much of those three odd hours describing the 90-minute movie were spent on either the sexual titillation or the brutal scares. Images of Jamie's best friend spilling something on her clothes and undressing down to panties were powerful bits of sexuality for a 12-year-old. I spent a lot of time considering her and various other women spilling things and undressing and at school occasionally other kids would claim they had seen a hot girl spill something on herself and then have to undress. I would believe them until they included too many details from the movie. A babysitter bent over stuck trying to crawl out a window. Wow. The casual mention in dialogue of a threeway with Lindsey, "first I rip your clothes off, then you rip my clothes of, then we rip Lindsey�s clothes off!" "Totally!" The flashing of PJ Soles' breasts, unknowingly stimulating Michael Myers, cleverly disguised in her dead boyfriend's glasses.
These things excited me and confirmed that sex was indeed dangerous, that the boogeyman murders women in panties and would probably murder me for being excited by them.
Jamie Lee Curtis, now mother to hotties, playing the cute, nerdy cheerleader no boy will touch because she's "too smart." Much time was spent "paying homage" to her and to her character's sluttier girlfriends. A rumor started going around my neighborhood that Curtis had been born a hermaphrodite. It did not lower my esteem for her, if anything it made me think that as a nerdy, awkward 12-year-old I might have better odds of convincing her to date me if I ever made it out of my town in the Midwest.
Speaking of her slutty friends, Lynda played by P.J. Soles, who starred in the Ramones cinematic masterwork, Rock and Roll High School. Always perky and cute, always made a movie worth seeing.
Donald Pleasance, a joy, and particularly his (and our) climactic point of view of nothing where dead Michael Myers should be.
Some of the handheld photography particularly the flares in the car, are very beautiful. I tried to recreate this cheap look on a much higher budget in Wrong Turn
, and flare-y handheld shots are all over my new movie, Alphabet Killer
The awesome music stings over the stabs and particularly the theme, burned into the minds of a generation. The simplicity, 4 notes on a piano, allowed thousands of children to add horror to any domestic moment by tapping them out on otherwise unused family pianos.
Children tormenting other children, the childish sadism of teasing. I just did a scene of it in Alphabet Killer
, re-watching Halloween
I realized the first place I saw sadistic tormenting on screen was Halloween. I'd been victim to it numerous times in my personal life.
Unsupervised kids in masks running laughing through the night, so common then; now in an era of real rapists, murderers and child molesters, an ancient memory.
The William Shatner mask, and later, lawsuit.
John Carpenter's reference to Howard Hawks, The Thing
, which, four years later, he made into one of my favorite movies of all time: one that I dream of remaking. (Note to self: include footage of John Carpenter's The Thing
in my next movie that makes 150 times it's budget in box office.)
The brilliance of getting into a car and noticing the windows are fogged up just before you're garroted to death. How many times have I looked for mist on the windows and re-checked the locks since then? Priceless.
Hail John Carpenter for having so much influence on this 12-year-old mind and I imagine many more thousand 12-year-olds back in '78.
And hail Rob Zombie. I expect he will have the same impact on the class of '07.
Rob Schmidt is the director of the upcoming thriller The Alphabet Killer, starring Eliza Dushku, Fox's Wrong Turn and the "Masters of Horror" entry "Right to Die."