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(posted for any CF'ers who like discussing/reviewing movies)


With Halloween upon us, naturally this movie came on TV and I watched it for the first time. Yep, the first time. Here were my impressions.

Up front I'll let the (black!) cat out of the bag: There were actually a number of things I liked about "Halloween" (1978 original), even though in the end I personally had to give it a miss.

On the positive side, I love the fact that this was an independent venture made on a shoestring (by movie standards). In my opinion, the distinctly non-studio feel of the film works nearly 100% to its advantage. I was in junior high in 1978, and all I can say is that "it felt like that", and I think the big studio treatment would have ruined this. Secondly, evil should be presented as evil . . . and it was. Many might mistakenly assume that Christians such as myself want there to be no evil at all in movies, but that is silly. The Bible is full of examples of evil, from the devil on down. I appreciated that the film made no pretense on this point: Michael Myers (as the doctor said) is pure evil -- cold, menacing, heartless, terrifying, relentless. Acknowledging this evil forthrightly, rather than having Dr. Loomis 'redefine' it as simply a psychological malady was, I thought, refreshing. (BTW, I thought Myers' mask was perfect . . . expressionless, uncaring, otherly.) On a related note, kudos to director Carpenter for achieving this portrayal without resorting to buckets of blood, etc. (This was why I was willing to give it a try in the first place.) An atmosphere of dread and genuine suspense is created w/o all that. I think audiences appreciate and admire this. For this reason I don't even like to consider Halloween a "slasher film", since that designation conjures up all the low-quality flicks that followed in its steps and were built around little more than visually grossing out the viewer with artless scenes of sickening violence and gore. Too bad so few filmmakers seem to emulate this quality of restraint. Regarding the acting, I have always enjoyed Donald Pleasence's quirky screen persona immensely, and Jamie Lee Curtis' sort of unpolished style - at this starting point in her career - worked for me and fit in with the film's natural overall feel. On a final note (bad pun intended), Carpenter's signature, unforgettable musical theme is fantastic! Haunting in its simplicity and sounding much like a child poking around on the keys of a piano, it is perfect for a film about a night when children take to the streets, naive to the unspeakable horror lurking in the shadows.

Dramatically there are some weaknesses. Some dialogue is terrible (extremely amateurish), and at times the supporting acting is poor. I also thought the very, very last plot twist - especially - crossed regrettably into the realm of the (overly) unrealistic -- one turn too many. However, these criticisms do not make up the main reason for my muted enthusiasm over this picture. So where did the movie let me down? Well, I realize that by later standards Halloween is 'tame' when it comes to the sex and violence department, but it still disappointed me that it contained what it did in these areas. Not that I was expecting it not to, but for me it was a shame that a movie which had many cool aspects working in its favor nevertheless threw in these touches (the stupid bed scene, or the guy being stabbed into the wall - & suspending him off the ground, which I don't even think is possible, btw, & more could be cited). While it is true, as has been pointed out by others, that almost all who meet their end in violent death are those engaging in sinful behavior (and thus it has been interpreted as a cautionary tale of moral recompense), it just went over the line for me. And I saw only the TV version (they may have cut out some of the most explicit material).

So, to summarize: It's not hard to see why legions of fans like this classic in the horror film genre. I certainly liked some of its attributes too (stated above). And it was NOT the fact that real and scary evil was present and effectively conveyed in the story that resulted in my own mixed review & rating. Rather, for me it was the inclusion of certain (needless) elements that bothered me enough morally that it ultimately tipped the scales against its viewing value. Non-issues for many, I know, but not trivial for some.

Clink, clink ... 2¢ -- Have a happy (& safe!) one! ;)
 

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I need to have my wife read this post, she critiques every freakin minute of a movie while I am trying to watch it ;D.. Seriously though I am not much a movie reviewer but as far as some of the over the top strength feats go I like it, shows him as a supernatural, evil, psychopath that can't be stopped, without that he's just a normal dude in a William Shatner mask which isn't terribly heart stopping.
 

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Hop said:
... the very, very last plot twist - especially - crossed regrettably into the realm of the (overly) unrealistic -- one turn too many.
Hop said:
... or the guy being stabbed into the wall - & suspending him off the ground, which I don't even think is possible ...
Darrin said:
... as far as some of the over the top strength feats go I like it, shows him as a supernatural, evil, psychopath that can't be stopped, without that he's just a normal dude in a William Shatner mask which isn't terribly heart stopping.
An interesting way of handling it, Darrin, and I appreciate your take on it. As one who believes in the reality of the demonic, and has seen firsthand some truly astonishing things (which would shake up the worldview of many), I find your 'angle' an intriguing one.

Still, it's one thing for a person to be demon possessed, it's another for that person to become somehow a 'supernatural entity', if you know what I mean. And about that stabbing scene I mentioned, it's not just that it would take supernatural strength, but that the physical knife itself would have to perform 'supernaturally' (in order to hold the guy's body weight suspended off the ground while sticking in the wall). I know it's just a detail, but I think the goal of a good movie is to 'play fair'.


BTW, here's a link for everyone of that signature soundtrack I thought was so effective:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mXS_BKFlo4
 
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