Sunday, December 19, 2010

A very Carpenter Christmas 2: Halloween

The more I think about it, the more I realize I probably should have started with this movie. After all, this was the movie that defined half of the conventions, clichés and tropes pertaining to the ubiquitous Slasher sub-genre, with Friday 13th taking care of the other half. Had I been particularly fond of slashers, it would've been all but unforgivable, but since there's only a handful of the movies I like outside of the So Bad It's Good fascination of it all, I'm not too bothered. Spoilers here, but you should know most of this already.

So yes, Halloween is the story of young Michael Myers who went a little insane and stabbed his sister an overabundant amount of time, and as a result was sectioned for 15 years. Now he's out, though and stalking through his old hometown of Haddonfield, reliving those glory days of stabbing young women, also branching out to men, enterprising fellow, that Myers kid. Hot on his trail is his therapist, Sam Loomis, who is more or less the only one who knows how bug-fuck insane and beyond redemption this guy is. Most of the movie follows Laurie Strode, though, who finds herself the center of attention from this eventually famously masked stalker, making her upcoming Halloween babysitting gig into a somewhat problematic affair.

Hoh yes everyone, this was the movie that taught us exactly how horrible an idea babysitting actually is. It's a rather clever idea, methinks, and I don't think it's an accident that our heroes in both of the most genre-defining slasher films have some sort of responsibility, someone to take care of, if you will. Sure, you can argue that the camp councelors of the Friday 13th movies sort of does a shit job, and in general act like complete bell-ends, but at least they at some point realize little lives depend on them. It's a very effective plot device that prevents the main characters from getting wise to this whole "wait, staying where the killer can find me is a really shit idea"-side of things. In most modern slashers, this is usually replaced with seclusion or stupidity 
Sorry, lost my train of thought there

But back to the movie. It's a problem when talking about movies that have been so important to the formulation of a genre, because everything it does, a lot of others have done after it, some better, a lot of them worse. This leads to what my friends on TvTropes call a Seinfeld is Unfunny situation, where the originality of the original work is undermined by the sheer number of times it has been copied, parodied or otherwise reused.  Halloween has this bad, but it can't be denied, it's a pretty decent movie. Special props must be given to the soundtrack though, or at least the opening theme, which is as simple as it is memorable, and frankly fairly creepy, pretty much being able to compete with Tubular Bells before the guitar sets in, or "In A House, In A Heartbeat" from 28 days later as my favorite piece of music in any horror movie, unless you count "Don't  Stop Me Now" from Shaun of The Dead, which feels like cheating somehow. 

Overall, even when factoring in the abovementioned effect, though, I feel that Halloween isn't really Carpenter's strongest film, and the other ones I'm covering in A Very Carpenter Christmas are better movies as far as I'm concerned, but as far as Slashers go, it's good, Myers is a creepy bastard, so it's good.

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