Halloween Is Coming
That’s right, Deadies!
The most wonderful time of the year is fast approaching, and I ain’t talkin’ Christmas!
For horror fans, even though the holiday isn’t official until October 31st, the celebration begins when the leaves begin to turn and we wake to the crisp, refreshing air of autumn. For many of us, Halloween is a year-round affair.
Writing horror fiction, my daily life is all skulls and monsters all the time, especially since DEADSVILLE AFTER DARK went live. And I’m okay with that! In fact, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Halloween used to terrify me as a kid. As a young child, I was a wimp. A scaredy-cat. In department stores, one of my three big sisters would lure me out of the toy aisle and into the Halloween costume section, where the other two would jump out and leap around in masks, sending me screaming for my mama as they burst into laughter.
My sisters had other tricks up their sleeves, too. A spider placed under my shirt, (I was wearing it at the time) fake ghosts haunting our house, etc. It was around this time that, having endured their terrifying pranks for years, I was no longer scared. I started liking horror. I got freaked out plenty – that first viewing of The Exorcist comes to mind – but an intoxicating thrill now accompanied the scares, like a dark ride at the carnival.
Soon, horror elements began finding their way into the writing I was dabbling with. I had discovered Stephen King, whose collection of short stories, Night Shift, cemented my desire to write horror fiction.
I love horror books, and I love a good horror movie as well.
Enter a gentleman named John Carpenter. Despite my pleading, my mother would not allow my youngest sister (still five years older than me) to take me to see Halloween. She’d caught on to the fact that I was sneaking in viewings of films like The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby on HBO while she was out partying on the weekends with friends (she was a single mom, and this was the 70’s, folks!) so I had to bide my time until Carpenter’s film made the rounds on HBO. From a parental standpoint, I honestly couldn’t see the difference between seeing the film in a theater or at home. However, not being known as the mom who lets her twelve year-old go to R-rated horror films was probably a good thing.
Until its debut on HBO, I had to settle for my sisters’ reactions when they saw it, and the fact that it scared the hell out of them thrilled me beyond words. Revenge? Maybe, but I was bracing myself for the intensity of it. There was another film released a few years earlier that was arguably more intense called The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but I wouldn’t see that until around ’80 or ’81. More about that one in a later post.
John Carpenter’s Halloween changed the game, ushering in the slew of slasher flicks in the 80’s. All of you know this already, so rather than regurgitate the same old same old, as it were, I’m going to focus on other aspects of the movie.
Not since Hitchcock had a director packed so much suspense into a film. Every shot is steeped in it.
Despite the mindlessly bloody slasher flicks that would follow it, Halloween was anything but mindless, and there was barely a drop of blood to be found. Though tasked to deliver a cheap exploitation film, Carpenter instead presented audiences with a film that would redefine horror and suspense for an entire generation, featuring developed characters and an iconic villain. The Shape (Michael Myers seems more a reference to the boy who ceased to exist after donning the clown costume in the opening scene) was a force of pure evil. The Shape was anyone – and no one at all.
I still enjoy the film, and I watch it once a year – around Halloween, of course. I never cared for any of the sequels or remakes. Carpenter’s reluctant involvement in Halloween 2 is evident, as that film became a poor imitator of itself. Halloween 3 is due some credit, as it at least tried to be something new and different. All the rest are unwatchable, in my opinion, as I’ve sat through more of them than I should have.
I can’t help but get a little excited over John Carpenter’s involvement in the forthcoming Halloween film. He won’t be directing, but will be “steering the ship” on several fronts, including developing the script and selecting the director. I can’t imagine he won’t be creating new music for it, as that seems to be where his deepest passions lie these days.
Still, can we really expect anything better than Halloween 2? I hope so. I would rather see Carpenter direct a new film from a script he was truly passionate about instead of a retread, even if it turns out well.
But I can understand fans not getting enough of Halloween. Carpenter made a classic that has gone on to become synonymous with the holiday, and every time we see one of the many “Michael Myers” walking the streets Halloween night, we can’t help but think of the film. And like the kids bounding from house to house, feeding their addiction to sugar, we fans long for a tasty new movie treat in our bags, instead of the stale, recycled junk we’ve had to settle for beginning with Halloween 2.
But even if the new film is underwhelming, at least there’s the original to fall back on.
We’ll always have Halloween.