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John Carpenter's Halloween: Our Favorite Scenes

On this day, October 25, 1978, John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN made its world premiere in Kansas City, Missouri.

When I asked the dedicated staff of Arrow in the Head to choose their favorite scene in HALLOWEEN - their absolute favorite scene, I figured I'd end up with at least one repeat, which I would then declare the unofficial "winner," or Best Scene. But, I suppose to my surprise and delight, it was not to be: Everyone picked a different scene from the Carpenter film. And that's what makes it a true classic. There are just so many memorable moments, I'm sure each of us could have made our own Top 10 Best Scenes. For now, let's boil it down to our collective five favorite scenes from the slasher that started it all. There is no order, because they're all terrific.

Shocker: The iconic opening sequence didn't even crack the list!

Eric W's Pick: Michael in the Yard

After Laurie Strode has made her fairly unsettling walk home (I love this whole sequence, from spotting The Shape disappearing behind the bushes to bumping into Sheriff Brackett for "one good scare"), she heads to her room and, for what can only be 2-3 seconds, sees The Shape standing in the yard amongst a bevy of swaying sheets. The strangest thing is, she doesn't even look away before he has disappeared, seemingly into thin air. It's a blink-and-you-miss-it moment, which makes it all the more chilling. And, we'll learn before long, disappearing without a trace is one of Michael Myers' special talents. - Eric Walkuski

Mike's Pick: The Empty End

After Michael Myers disappears at the end, the movie cuts to lingering shots of the locations from the movie, all empty, quiet, still, and haunted. Thus bringing about my general thoughts on the original Halloween and why the sequels haven't ever been able to match its power: the sequels have treated Halloween and Michael Myers as if this were a slasher franchise when the original film is actually a ghost story.

Only in this story, the ghost is (more or less) a living breathing entity. But cinematically the original is more in-tune with a tale of a vengeful ghost. Or possibly more apt, a ghost story in reverse; most ghost stories are about a soul inhabiting the world without a body, where Halloween is about a body that inhabits the earth after it's soul has moved on. I think the lingering empty shots at the end personify these themes of hauntings and ghosts. - Mike Sprague

Jake's Pick: Michael's Not Dead

There’s one moment in the film I’m sure all will agree is among the most memorably effective, and it happens dead in the middle of the movie's killer climax. I’m talking about the sequence where Laurie Strode fights for her life against The Shape inside the upstairs closet. After what she, and by proxy us, believe she’s finally dispatched of the evil intruder with a coat-hanger, we’re lulled into a false sense of security…a counterfeit calm in the dead of a storm. Framed and lensed to perfection, my favorite single moment of HALLOWEEN is when Laurie, left of frame in the foreground (bloody and weepy), finally catches her breath in relief. A few ticks pass and then, almost mechanically, The Shape’s body – out of focus in the background – sits upright and robotically swivels his head towards Laurie. It’s an absolute pants-shitter! Carpenter’s stinging score only adds to the terror in a shot that is so simple yet so damn petrifying. - Jake Dee

Jimmy's Pick - Ghost Michael

There is a reason HALLOWEEN still stands the test of time. The film features brilliant examples of the cunningly evil nature of Michael Myers and the way he attacks his victims. One scene in particular that has always affected me is "ghost Michael." After killing Bob, the Boogeyman finds Lynda waiting for her beer. Wearing a sheet and Bob's glasses, Michael knows he has the advantage as he slowly moves in for the kill. The idea that a silent stalker shows this kind of creativity and viciousness always felt real - and of course terrifying. This is just one of the many moments that make HALLOWEEN a classic. - James Oster

Cody's Pick - The House of Horrors

Having put the children to bed, babysitter Laurie Strode decides to walk across the street to see what's going on with her friends Annie and Lynda, who the viewer has already seen get murdered by masked stalker Michael Myers. We're on edge as we watch Laurie cross the street and enter the dark house, wondering when the killer is going to attack. It's an attack that doesn't come until after we see that Myers has set up the ultimate Halloween "house of horrors" for our heroine to experience. The corpse of one of her friends is laid out across a bed, a jack-o-lantern shining on the bedside table, the headstone of the sister Myers murdered 15 years before now serving as a headboard. Laurie will find two more bodies in this house before Michael Myers emerges from the shadows behind her, knife in hand, in my single favorite shot of the entire movie. - Cody Hamman
Tags: Hollywood

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