The concept for my 2011 Halloween Special came to me when I was still writing my 2010 Halloween Special, and I was a little depressed that I would have to sit on such a great idea for a whole year before I could implement it. But October has finally rolled around at last, and now that it’s time to complete what I had planned, I’ve realized that it’s much easier to conjure up these things that to actually do them.
But I’m committed, come hell or high water, to watch every movie in the original Halloween series in a single sitting. That’s eight feature films. None of them are of epic length, mind you, but it’s still a pretty decent chunk of time to have an ass parked on a couch. Luckily, my skill at sitting almost motionless for hours at a stretch is unparalleled, except by certain species of reptile and the more dedicated East Indian fakirs. So all it will really take out of me is time, and I’ve got that. If, last October I had decided that for my 2011 Halloween special I would run October’s Portland marathon in a Jason-style hockey mask you would most assuredly be reading a list of excuses right now.
This is at least somewhat uncharted territory for me. I’ve seen the first Halloween many times, and I actually saw Halloween 5 in 1989 on an ill-advised high school double-date. The rest will be all new to me, because I’m not really a horror aficionado. A well-made one can be great, but too many rely on the lazy technique of someone/thing suddenly lunging into frame accompanied by a loud sting of music. To make an audience jump as an involuntary physical response to a sudden change in volume or visual stimuli is not “horrifying” them, it’s triggering a simple reflex. And it’s poor filmmaking when used too often. From what I’ve heard, the Halloween sequels range in quality from dubious to wretched, so I’m expecting a lot of it-was-only-the-cat “ha ha made you jump” moments.
On with it, then. On Saturday, October 15, armed with only my notebook, a Snuggie, DVDs of Halloween 1 through 6 (and the remaining two streaming on Netflix Instant View), and a variety of nearby beverages, I settle in to complete the challenge I had set for myself the year before.
8:53 am. Halloween (1978). The sound of the coffee pot beginning to drip in my kitchen blends in with the classic Halloween theme. Not the first mainstream “slasher” movie (most people give that credit to 1974’s Black Christmas), it’s certainly the best. The opening credits are pretty iconic — a slightly battered, grinning jack o’lantern against a solid black screen with the credits in orange text. And of course, that music.
We start with a Prologue: Haddonfield, Illinois, 1963. Six-year-old Michael Myers is in the side yard of his house, observing his teenage sister and her jackass boyfriend necking on the couch. (All the teen girls in the Halloween franchise come packaged with horny, boorish Jackass Boyfriends as standard equipment.) We don’t see Michael yet, but we see what he sees, in what film geeks call a “POV shot.” (And for it being 1963, the Jackass Boyfriend is certainly rocking some post-Beatles hair. What is it with 70’s actors and their precious, precious hair? Beginning in about the mid-80’s, actors went ahead and committed to accurate period haircuts for TV shows and movies set in the past. But in the 70’s, it didn’t matter if the story was set in the Korean War or 1950’s Milwaukee, you were going to get guys with muttonchops and Jewfros and girls with feathered Farrah Fawcett ‘dos. Had someone with the hair length of a, say, Chachi Arcola actually shown up in 1950’s Milwaukee, he would have been beaten within an inch of his life as a suspected deviant. I’m not saying that’s right, I’m just saying it’s a likely scenario.) Continue reading