Monday, August 11, 2014

Halloween (1978)

Hi, remember me?? I used to write this blog where I watched horror movies and then reviewed them via crappy MS Paint drawings? Well, then winter happened and I warded off the crippling depression by mainlining episodes of both the hilarious bad movie podcast How Did This Get Made? and the hilarious bad movie television show Mystery Science Theater 3000, and I just felt like everyone was doing a better job with movie commentary than I was. Today I was listening to an old episode of another excellent podcast, Judge John Hodgman, in which a guy was attempting to compile a list of his top 100 horror films of all time and I thought to myself, “Hey, I should do some kind of project involving horror films! Maybe I can even put my rarely-used journalism degree to work,” then I remembered that I’m still paying for this URL.

So here we are, time to pick up this project again. I don’t want you to be alarmed but since I stopped drawing egotistical portraits of myself for this blog last fall, I grew my hair out and stopped flat-ironing it, so please accept this new egotistical portrait of myself.

Glenn still looks the same/is still a shithead.

Since this blog is obvs all about me, I wanted to do a movie that holds particular importance to me to revive it. I went with one of my all-time favorites: Halloween. I mentioned in the previous entry that I bought a VHS copy of Halloween at a Blockbuster sale and it really changed me. When I say that it changed me, I mean that it ruined me deep inside and made me unable to feel real love and real empathy. Michael Myers is that good.

 I recently watched a documentary about the making of Halloween that included a bit of trivia about how the movie was originally presented to studio execs without the iconic music and it really wasn’t terribly scary at all. John Carpenter composed and overlaid the chilling score (it’s in 5/4! Great time signature.) and the movie itself became the truly terrifying work it is. It’s perfect. In homage to this, I would like you to please hit play on the following video and listen to the score while you read this post. It’s only 2:36 though, so, you know… scroll quickly.

 Is this one of the scariest films of all time? My personal feeling is that it’s certainly in my top five, and you could argue that it really spawned the aesthetic of the stalking killers in the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th franchises as well. If nothing else, it gave us the “virgins will live!” trope which I hold so near and dear to my heart. If you know me in real life, you know that despite the fact that I am happily married, I am abstaining from such lewd activities just in case I am ever forced to subvert a malevolent force of some kind. It’s just an investment in my future. I’m not trying to die.

Michael Myers’ now-you-see-him-now-you-don’t appearances as he stalks our protagonist (Jamie Lee Curtis in her film debut) are just one of the ways Carpenter built fear and suspense and paranoia throughout the second act. My favorite of these moments is one of his first appearances in Haddonfield:

Okay, so this is weird. I drew that picture from my memory of the scene and then thought I should google it to see if I was anywhere near the likeness I was aiming for. This is a still from the original scene:

I know the first thing you noticed was my completely implausible perspective (I also have a degree in art history, which means that I can easily recognize my errors but feel no real compulsion to correct them) but otherwise, look how close that is! That’s a testament to the power of this movie—that image is completely stuck in my brain and probably will be forever. (It is close, right? Tell me it’s close. TELL ME I’M AN ARTIST.)

That’s not, however, my favorite moment of the movie. That comes in the third act, when Michael Myers has begun his assault on the misbehaving teens and (spoiler alert) kills Bob, the boyfriend of promiscuous Linda (spoiler alert 2: boobs in this scene) who wears those sort of creepy/molesty late 1970s tortoiseshell eyeglasses that were also worn by at least one of your weird uncles when you were a kid. Michael Myers appears in the doorway of the bedroom, dressed as a ghost in a sheet but wearing Bob’s glasses over the eye holes and of course, proceeds to brutally murder Linda. The point of Michael Myers is that he’s completely unrelatable—a psychotic and inhumane monster—and yet he does this thing that’s actually sort of funny for the audience, even though the end result is the death of a chesty protagonist.

I don’t want to say too much about this movie because 1) if you’ve never seen it, why are you even reading this blog? Go watch it immediately; and 2) if you have seen it, you probably love it and know it pretty damn well so why would I bother describing it to you? The third act continues in all its eerie glory and climaxes into one of my favorite endings in horror history—an ending that kept me up at night. It leads perfectly into the sequel, which starts off strong and then really kind of gets lost in the middle if my memory serves me correctly –but let’s not get too far into that now so I can review it later.

Hey guys! I wrote a recap! I drew some MS Paint pictures! Here’s to hoping I can keep it up. One thing that’s certainly motivating to me is that Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the namesake of this blog, is running at Pittsburgh Filmmakers’ Melwood Screening Room from August 22-30 and I CANNOT WAIT to see it on the big screen. For more info, go here and please support your local arts organizations.

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