Monday, April 1, 2013

Halloween [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

Alright, here it is my triumphant return to reviews after taking a month to regather myself. No applause? Well that sounds about right. Please also excuse me if it looks like I'm a little rusty. It's 'cause I am. I come back though with one of the horror genre's all time staples. Halloween took the genre and turned it on its side. The suspense this movie brought was seldom seen in the big screen at the time. The kills were brutal and the story turned out to be a timeless classic. Halloween has spawned a full franchise and even a recent reboot by Rob Zombie. But this is the inaugural piece and John Carpenter crafted a movie that will stand the test of time as one of horror's best films.

Halloween follows the story of Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), a high school student on Halloween night. In a flashback scene to start the movie we find out that Michael Myers, who is six at the time, kills his older sister and was committed to an insane asylum. This Halloween is the 15th Anniversary of the murder and Michael escapes the asylum to wreck havoc in the town where it all began. Dr. Samuel Loomis (Donald Pleasance) is sent to retrieve Michael before he tries to kill again. Laurie is stuck babysitting this fateful Halloween night and across the street her friend Annie (Nancy Kyes) is also stuck doing the same. Though friends have promised to come over and hang out later in the evening. Throughout the day Laurie sees Michael following them around town as they get ready. Annie writes off Laurie's paranoia, but as night falls things begin to go awry. Break-ins happen around town and friends don't arrive as they promised. These may be clues that Michael has already begun his rampage. With Laurie, this time around, unknowingly becoming his prized possession.

There is no doubt in my mind this is one of the best horror movies of all time. It doesn't have the flash, the crew, the effects or even the acting talent. What it does have is a simple, scary atmosphere lurking just in the background. You're not gonna see buckets of blood or overly brutal kills like in say a SAW or Friday the 13th film. You're gonna be put on the edge of your seat by that haunting score and the suspense of Myers eerily spying on his victims. You're not gonna get Academy Award winning acting. But Jamie Lee Curtis plays a high school student, admittedly not a hard task to do, who you would think was truly being terrorized. You're also not gonna get Academy Award winning writing either. What you will get is a story and lore that has spawned a generation of movies in a successful franchise. Halloween for me has always been one of those jumping off movies, at least in the horror genre, in the past 50 years. Along with Dawn of the Dead, which was released in the same year, a new era of modern horror was beginning.

To delve a little more deeply into things I'm going to go over three main points that make this movie worth going back to again and again. Despite how many times you may have watched it. My first point being the lore and story that this movie sets up for the audience. John Carpenter is one of the best horror writers and directors of all time. But this, still after all these years, could still be easily considered his crown jewel. Not only was it a highly original story at the time, but also it's still one that holds up really well today. Even with it being just a simple story of a less than sane kid wanting revenge on the town that put him away.

Moving on, my second point would be that the score alone and tone of the movie is one of the best ever. Horror movies nowadays rarely use a truly eerie score and atmosphere to put people on the edge of their seats. If they do it's usually done in a completely over-dramatic way that leaves you rolling your eyes. Limiting the jump scares in this movie and combining it with a now iconic score puts your mind in a different place. Now follow me here for a second. A place where even the slightest movements or sounds have you on high alert. So when the big kill or scare does happen it's not an, "Oh, I saw that coming from a mile away" moment, it's a, "Yell or gasp out loud with genuine sense of fright" moment. Finally we come to my final point which is, even low budget movies can be phenomenal. This movie was essentially made out of the back of a van, in a neighborhood, with the cast and crew's family and friends helping them out. This really hit me cause you don't need a huge budget to make a masterpiece. One of my favorite movies of all time, Clerks, was made on a limited budget as well. John Carpenter, Deborah Hill, Irwin Yablans and the rest of this people evolved in this movie created a lasting impact. They created big buzz and a big movie, without the big Hollywood budget.

Horror is a genre that a lot of people think is really stale and they usually write off a movie before it even comes out. At least that's what happens nowadays. But there is a reason why people call this a classic. Halloween helped change the direction of horror in the late 1970s. Not relying on jump scares, it had great writing, decent acting (at least on Jamie Lee Curtis' part) and a score for the ages. I could talk your ear off about how the acting (overall) was lacking or that it looks really dated. If you want to point out flaws I don't think you truly enjoy this movie. As even some of the things that make it bad help with the overall charm of things. This was and still is the pillar of a franchise and a genre. Halloween takes a simple word and the influence of a holiday, and turns it into terror creeping in the back of your mind.

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