Today! Because you’ve fooled them, haven’t you, Michael? But not me –
Directed by John Carpenter
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, P.J. Soles (x2), Nancy Kyes, Charles Cyphers, Kyle Richards, Brian Andrews, Nick Castle, Tony Moran
As few films on this list can be classified as horror, Halloween holds the very real distinction of being the only true slasher movie. The handful of others are usually crossing more into fantasy/demons type areas (or are films masquerading as mainstream crime/drama, but with serious horror elements), but in the Stabby Dude horror sub-category, this is all you’ll find. I think having a real love and appreciation for horror movies requires a specific type of movie fan, so a list of, say, their 400 favorite movies would naturally include tons of these. I genuinely enjoy lousy movies, from poorly executed studio films to under budgeted amateur trash, but those movies aren’t going to ever get classified as a “favorite” of mine, and the vast majority of this sort of horror falls into that area. Tommy Wiseau’s The Room (not a horror film) did come close, though.
But while I never regularly subscribed to Fangoria or anything, I did have a period growing up where I was way into the major horror franchises of the day – your Friday the 13ths, Nightmare on Elm Streets, etc. Hell, I saw all the Scream movies in theaters – even though they were considerably later – and I’ve already recounted the bizarre number of times we watched #338 Poltergeist as kids. But the only movies that I still watch even occasionally are the Halloweens, 1 & 2 primarily, 4 & 5 if I’ve stayed up way too late and the marathon has kicked in to high gear. But obviously not 3, because fuck 3.
That original Halloween was making up a lot of stuff on the fly, and would become the touchstone for the entire genre, like Star Wars and all the shitty science fiction movies to follow in the late ’70s/early ’80s (Hello, Saturn 3!). It works so well for a variety of reasons – a cool but not yet indestructible villain, Jamie Lee Curtis as the absolutely perfect horror movie damsel/hero, and the great Donald Pleasence totally committed in his manic performance as Michael’s doctor, Loomis. More than these characters, though, is the terrific, taut pacing of the film, and the off kilter, nerve-wracking atmosphere, created simply through lighting and composition, on a movie thrown together for a few hundred thousand dollars.
And yeah, I even like II, even though it’s more standard slasher fare by that point. But it’s a series that manages to hold up better than, say, Friday the 13th, as at least they basically concocted reasons why this was still happening. Sure, they’ve now started just discarding the sequels and remakes and are creating all new stories stemming from the first film (which is the laziest ploy in movie sequels, by the way – those other shitty sequels still exist! Deal with it!), but that’s really because people can invest in the psychotic Myers family drama. It’s not nameless teens getting murdered in their sleep for virtually no reason! But also, to digress, last year’s Halloween being a sequel to the original Halloween but just being named Halloween is infuriating, isn’t it? Plus, didn’t they already kind of make that movie – Laurie dealing with Michael for good and all – with Halloween H20? How is this even interesting? But okay, let’s just knit it back to the original, call it the only sequel (discarding something like nine other movies) – if that’s the case, how the hell does P.J. Soles appear in the new film? Even in a cameo capacity as a different character, it’s an insanely indefensible choice to make. I don’t know. The Rob Zombie remake was lousy, but I’d prefer that to whatever the hell the plan was with this other movie.
Say, I’ve got an idea for a new Star Wars sequel – it discards everything that happened after A New Hope, so forget all that complicated Luke/Leia as Vader’s kids nonsense. This one is more based on the loopy comic books that came out at the time. Remember? They couldn’t actually commit to anything mythology-wise, so they just made up dumb adventures, sometimes featuring giant rabbit people, sometimes with Luke and Vader having to compete in, like, intergalactic sword fighting tournaments? It’s kind of like that. We’re going to toss the Episode numbers, too – that was something created after the original was out, anyway. So I’m pitching Star Wars II! Luke and Leia obviously aren’t related, and the love triangle with Han occupies most of the time when they aren’t cavorting with the Ewoks (yeah, there’s still Ewoks!).
Last time I was out in L.A., me and my pal Dave drove around looking for famous filming locations, and found THE hedge – leading us to this great series of pictures:
I’ve tangented way too much here to waste time on much else – sorry folks! John Carpenter joins the Two-Timers Directing wing, after his surprise helming of #389 Memoirs of an Invisible Man, making him the 16th inductee to the club. Sorry, Carpenter fans – this is where his run on this list ends. Yeah, Escape From New York is cool, but he also directed Ghosts of Mars, so shush! The only new acting Two-Timer is Soles, who’s had a spotty career in the decades from her late ’70s/early ’80s heyday (But at least she turns up in the new Halloween! Okay, no more about that.), which includes appearing in #287 Stripes. Spotlight!