It's that time of year again. My Facebook friends already know what a Halloween nerdlinger I am, and I thought I'd elaborate using my favorite time-spender: Movies!!
I'm gonna start with the most obvious:
Sometime in the fall of 1981, I went up to my sisters' apartment in Racine, where they had HBO hooked up to a tiny black and white Admiral television (which I now have by the way, if you'd like to see it, click here: http://www.moviesistayeduplatefor.blogspot.com/] The plan was to watch the Walter Hill classic, "The Warriors", but "Halloween" was on first. I had heard it was a good movie, but had no idea what I was in for. From the opening sting chord as the 6-year old Michael Myers' teenage sister turns on her upstairs bedroom light, albeit briefly, to engage in the quickest bout of hanky-panky in movie history. To the closing montage of all the places "the shape" had visited and terrorized during the film's tour into hell, I was wide-eyed and freaked out.
John Carpenter's keyboard score underlies a darkly but masterfully shot film, lit with genius by Dean Cundey, where nothing is where or is as it seems. Michael Myers is everywhere. And nowhere. At the same time I had deep admiration for stage and cinema legend, Donald Pleasence as Myers' flustered and dedicated psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Loomis. He was the only one who understood the depths of Michael's evil. And, indeed what "It" (as a transfer nurse chides Dr. Loomis for referring to Michael as early on in the film) is capable of. The film caused unsteady sleep, and to this day to my embarrassment, still the occasional nightmare.
After what seems like hundreds of sequels later, and a couple of poorly executed remakes by a former rock-star turned 70's grindhouse style filmmaker, the original seems a liftime away. All of those that followed (with the possible exception of the underappreciated 1981 Rick Rosenthal-helmed "Halloween II") pale in comparison.
To me, Carpenter's film became as much a part of the holiday as the crisp, golden leaves, the bite in the air, and the peanut butter kisses and PAL gum dropped into plastic buckets on October 31. I've realized myself despite the uneasy sleep, that the creeps induced by "Halloween" are now the good kind. And are created in all too short supply these days.