Original Vs. Remake: Halloween (1978)

It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and me to break down another cinematic original and its remake.  We’re switching things up this month!  I’m taking on the original… can you believe it?  And next week, Catie will review the remake.  This month we tackle the horror classic, Halloween.  After all, it is October!

Who can get through the Halloween season without watching the spooky 1978 film, Halloween?  Not this horror movie fan!

The House

The Mask

The Scream Queen

Michael Myers

Usually, I open with Catie’s Homemade Summary that applies to both films.  But this time, since I’m going first, I had to draft one all my own:

After escaping from a psychiatric institution where he has been held since childhood, a masked killer returns to his hometown and stalks a babysitter, her friends, and a group of small children, while his doctor hunts him down. 

I can’t begin to explain how excited I am that I’m covering the original horror movie classic this month.  When Catie mentioned that she’d like to review the Rob Zombie 2007 remake, I bounced in my seat and clapped my hands.  Luckily I was alone, except for my animals, so no one saw how silly I looked cheering all by myself.

I absolutely love this movie.  To be honest, it could be John Carpenter’s Halloween that began my love affair with horror movies years and years ago.  I watch it every single Halloween.  Sometimes more than once.  And yes, it drives my guy crazy that I can watch and re-watch the same movie multiple times; he doesn’t share the same love for horror that I do.  But enough about me, let’s get down to business.

By now, I hope we all know the origin of Michael Myers and Halloween, but in case someone doesn’t…

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 a catatonic state, escapes the hospital, and steals a car.  Where is 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 her for a ride, so she drops off the little girl she is watching with Laurie who is conveniently babysitting Tommy Doyle across the street.  When Annie is alone in the car, waiting for her boyfriend, Michael sits up from the back seat and kills her.  Tommy watches as the “Boogie Man” carries Annie’s lifeless body back to the house, and tells Laurie, but she 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.

Finally, Michael sets his eyes on his true target – Laurie.  After several 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.

Cue 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 titled 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); Tyra Banks and Busta Rhymes (Resurrection); and 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!

What do you think?  Have you seen either the original or the remake of Halloween?  If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why?  If you haven’t, do you want to?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to stop by Catie’s blog next week for her take on the Rob Zombie remake.

And at the end of next week, we have a special guest, Jess Witkins, joining the Original vs. Remake fun!  She’s jumping in and covering a third Halloween film.  Which one will she choose?

7 Replies to “Original Vs. Remake: Halloween (1978)”

  1. Halloween the first is my favorite. It introduced us to Jamie Lee and portrayed her as a feisty heroine, not the scream and run then get killed type. She gave as good as she got. Donald Pleasance was perfect because he stepped out of his usual bad guy roles. He played Bloefeld in one of the Bond films.

  2. I just reviewed Halloween H2O last night! I can’t wait to play along. The Halloween movies are classic – even the awful campy ones because Michael Myers is just THAT creepy! But of course, the original is the best!

    How cool the mask was made of a Captain Kirk mask. LOL Who’d of thunk?

    1. I can’t wait to read what you thought about H2O, Jess!! It’s one I can watch over and over again… And yes; Michael Myers is just THAT creepy. All of the time. Even in the campy films.

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