Halloween ('78)

I first saw John Carpenter's Halloween when I was a prepubescent waif.  Throughout my teenaged years, I maintained that it was overrated.  As I plowed into my 20's, my deportment softened a bit.  I mellowed out.  To tell you the truth, I like to think that I was beginning to mature as a horror buff (tee-fucking-hee).  I still didn't see the film as a singular masterclass in nail-shitting suspense, but I was able to enjoy it.  Fast-forward to last night.  My father and I attended a screening of Halloween at my local multiplex (heh, I make it sound so exclusive).  I will avow that the piercing audio and the sight of a 9-foot Donald Pleasence made me appreciate The Shape's exploits on a more discerning level.

But only slightly.  Is it an effective slasher?  Without question.  The best of all time?  That's a negative.  I am left with many of the same reservations that I held as a teenager.  Halloween didn't actually pioneer anything; it was merely the first successful stabshow to trot out a masked killer and yecchy POV shots.  A part of me resents it for dwarfing the fortunes bestowed upon Black Christmas (and to a lesser extent, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre).  That may never change, but I can't rightfully blame Halloween itself for being an overachiever.  It's a tight, crafty watch, and it's not responsible for the mistral of knock-offs that it spawned.

Maybe it's the seasonal weather, but for whatever reason, this picture's pros have become readily apparent to my erudite eyeballs (speaking of my peepers, they're just peeled grapes...don't tell the trick-or-treaters).  Carpenter knows exactly how to bottle the Halloween (the holiday, that is) spirit and release it in front of a camera.  He should reduce it to a rarefied broth.  A petrifying potage.  A vile vichyssoise.  Okay, I'll stop.  The atmosphere might be my favorite aspect of Halloween.  My second favorite is definitely the iconic score, as it always manages to gift-wrap my brittle bones in goose flesh.

With the exception of a dazed Nancy Kyes (seriously, what did she smoke before each take, and where can I procure a bag?), the cast is on point.  Obviously, Pleasence steals the screen, but how fucking adorable is P.J. Soles?  Totally!  I can't believe that I was lucky enough to meet her a couple of years ago.  The pace drags in the paunch of the second act.  C'mon, you have to admit that the death sequences are stretched out beyond comprehension, but hot damn, the finale is peerless.  That's how you end a slasher, folks.  Carpenter wrote the book on capping a climax.  It's called Capping A Climax: I Wrote This Book.

Above all else, Halloween is fun.  I can accept it as an authentic classic.  I do feel that my rating is fair, though.  I'm not blinded by nostalgia or franchise loyalty, nor am I oblivious to flaws that strike me as egregious on occasion.  Also, I'm right.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your review. It's a good movie but not...well, not the ultimate movie. I go to meet PJ Soles at a convention a long time ago as well at a convention. She was a sweetheart. Did you also get to start going to conventions?