Daily | John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN


Jamie Lee Curtis in ‘Halloween’

Tonight at 7, as part of See It Big!, the series co-organized by Reverse Shot editors Michael Koresky and Jeff Reichert, and Museum of the Moving Image Chief Curator David Schwartz, Nick Pinkerton will introduce John Carpenter‘s Halloween (1978). Says the Museum: “The underrated Village Voice critic Tom Allen recognized the film as ‘an instant schlock horror classic,’ and wrote, ‘Halloween, a study in warm colors, dark shadows, and ceaselessly tracking dollies, owes more to the expressive possibilities raised by Vincente Minnelli in the Halloween sequence of Meet Me in St. Louis than to any films in the realistic school.'”

And it’s “holding up pretty well after 35 years,” writes Julien Allen in Reverse Shot. “Famously made on a shoestring budget, with a story and a style ‘driven by simplicity,’ in Carpenter’s own words, the director’s third feature is still its maker’s biggest hit—70 million dollars at the box office, over two hundred times what it cost to make—and an axiomatic high water mark in both independent and horror cinema…. Reinstating Halloween from the nation’s living rooms to the big screen where it really belongs, gives audiences a clearer look at what makes a consummate frightener—and a chance to reacquaint themselves with one of cinema’s most underappreciated evildoers.”

“I wasn’t born in 1978, but I knew about John Carpenter’s Halloween long before I ever saw it,” writes Michael Roffman for Time. “At countless sleepovers, older siblings of neighborhood friends would whisper about Michael Myers in passing, leaving us kids to freak out alone in dark dens and shadowy bedrooms. ‘His mask, dude,’ one shaggy-haired brother warned me. ‘It’ll haunt you forever.’ He wasn’t wrong. And I wasn’t alone…. What’s startling about Halloween is how it’s so relatable. Growing up in America, everyone’s encountered a babysitter, gone trick-or-treating, or moped around the same sprawling neighborhoods that Michael Myers stalks onscreen. Carpenter recognized this, recently telling Crave Online that ‘every teenage girl in America could relate to babysitting. So I was just thinking of the cast and writing the script of the movie based on that much. Out of that came Halloween…. At its core it’s: the force of evil is man. This guy Michael Myers is human. He’s only part supernatural. And there’s really not much of an explanation as to why he’s doing what he’s doing. So it’s just black evil coming to a small town. A bunch of pain. That’s what it’s really about: horror.'”

Carpenter is “the most underrated American filmmaker of our time,” argues Sean Axmaker at Indiewire. He walks us through a few Blu-ray releases, and it isn’t long before he turns to Anchor Bay’s 35th Anniversary Edition of Halloween: “Where other horror directors try to scare us with what lays just outside the frame, waiting to break in, Carpenter’s horror emerges from within. The Golem-like Michael appears from the shadows like a ghost, the only defiance of natural law in a world that otherwise follows the rules, and Carpenter offers no explanation other than he’s the bogeyman.” The Blu-ray, by the way, features “a reunion commentary track with Carpenter and star Jamie Lee Curtis talking over old times.”

Update, 11/1: Carpenter talks Halloween with Phelim O’Neill (Telegraph) and Richard Rushfield (Yahoo!).

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