Who can get through the Halloween season without watching the spooky 1978 film, Halloween? Not this horror movie fan!
The Scream Queen
The movie opens with a young Michael Myers stabbing his teenage sister to death in 1963. He is admitted into Smith’s Grove Sanitarium where he spends the next eighteen years undergoing treatment from psychiatrist Dr. Samuel Loomis. But, on October 30th 1978, Michael awakens from his catatonic state, escapes the hospital, and steals a car. Where’s he going? He has unfinished business in Haddonfield, Illinois.
The next morning, we’re introduced to Laurie Strode and her best friends Annie and Linda, a happy group of teenage girls walking to school. The three friends agree to babysit later that night, Halloween night, despite the fact that Laurie feels like someone has been watching her all day – a man in a dark jumpsuit wearing a weird, white mask.
Later that night, Annie’s boyfriend calls for a ride, so she drops off the little girl she is watching with Laurie who is conveniently babysitting Tommy Doyle across the street. Alone in the car waiting for her boyfriend, Michael sits up from the back seat and kills Annie. Tommy watches as the “Boogie Man” carries Annie’s lifeless body back to the house, but Laurie shrugs off Tommy’s antics as a Halloween scare.
Next, Michael discovers Linda and her boyfriend Bob having sex in the house. What are the rules of horror movies? Never have sex. Have sex, and die.
Michael sets his eyes on his true target – Laurie. After very suspenseful scenes, Laurie barely escapes Michael’s grasps and manages to hide the children before crawling deep into a corner of an upstairs closet. Just as Michael finds her, Dr. Loomis finally catches up to his patient and shoots him. Michael falls from the bedroom window; however by the time Loomis looks out, he is gone.
Queue The Music
Ever wonder why the film is referred to as John Carpenter’s Halloween? That’s because John Carpenter wrote the screenplay (with Debra Hill), produced (with Hill, and others including Moustapha Akkad) and directed the movie, and created the original music.
In October 2010, the Biography Channel aired Halloween: The Inside Story, and my appreciation for the original film of the Halloween franchise grew. Not only did the film captivate audiences, but the movie’s success came with an extremely low budget, even for the 1970s.
Carpenter took the small financing and hired a ton of no name actors, including the now famous, Jamie Lee Curtis to play Laurie Strode, Michael’s main target. He approached famous actors to play the part of Dr. Samuel Loomis, but after multiple rejections, Carpenter finally found an English actor interested in the role, Donald Pleasance.
The other cast members had a few film credits to their name, but many were considered “B” movie actors: Nancy (Loomis) Kyes played Annie; P.J. Soles starred as Lynda; and Nick Castle played “The Shape” – or Michael Myers as we know him.
Keeping within the small budget, Carpenter selected areas in California for filming the fictional town of Haddonfield, Illinois, and he tasked the actors with gathering and dropping the fake fall leaves over and over again during the twenty-one days of filming. The most astonishing of all the Halloween facts learned while watching Biography’s special, was the fact that the Michael Myers’ mask is actually a Captain Kirk mask painted and tweaked just a bit so that it wasn’t recognizable as the popular Star Trek character.
Originally the The Babysitter Murders, Carpenter’s movie saw extreme box office success. The approximate $300,000 film made over $47 million at the theaters. The Halloween franchise remains popular today and consists of ten films, including two recent remakes by rocker, Rob Zombie.
Pleasance and Curtis have remained loyal to the franchise; Pleasance filmed a total of five Halloween films and Curtis four. The Halloween movies have also featured a few familiar faces over the years: Danielle Harris (Halloween 4, 5, and both of Rob Zombie’s remakes); Paul Rudd (The Curse of Michael Myers); Josh Hartnett, LL Cool J, Michelle Williams, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Adam Arkin, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (H20); Sean Patrick Thomas, Tyra Banks, and Busta Rhymes (Resurrection); Malcolm McDowell and Scout Taylor Compton (Zombie’s 2007 and 2009 movies).
Halloween III: Season of the Witch is the only film in the franchise that doesn’t tell Michael Myers’ story, and is by far my least favorite. So which one is my favorite? The original, of course. But, I’ll watch Halloween: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, and Halloween: H20 anytime I can!
Did the original 1978 Halloween scare you? Did you ever think twice about babysitting on Halloween? Which of the Halloween movies is your favorite and least favorite? Who wins – Michael / Freddie / or Jason? I’d love to hear from you!