What Does Halloween Mean To You? (Part Two)


The question is simple: What does HALLOWEEN mean to you? I asked the members of the Arrow in the Head staff - and myself - this question, as David Gordon Green and Blumhouse's HALLOWEEN, a direct follow-up to John Carpenter's 1978 film, is now playing across the globe. (It did pretty well too.) The question is fairly broad, but more than anything it seeks to find out what each individual's relationship with the slasher classic is: Have you always loved it? Did it take years to grow on you? Do you think it's overrated to this day?

Below you'll find some of our answers (Part One can be found HERE), but obviously we don't want to limit this query to the handful of us. Below in the comments section, or on social media if you prefer, we ask you let us know how the original film, and the franchise as a whole, has altered your horror-loving heart. Whether you think it's the best movie of all time or one that needs to be taken down a few pegs, we all have a special relationship with HALLOWEEN. And everyone's entitled to one good scare.

JAKE DEE, Film Critic

To be dead frank, my relationship with John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN is probably quite different than most horror fans. What I mean by that is, growing up as a child of the 80s, I was at an early age, exposed to a wide variety of horror flicks. I credit/blame my sister, who’s eight years my senior, and her depraved friends, for subjecting a kid to stuff no child should see, and do so sans a shred of censorship. So when they put me onto FRIDAY THE 13th as a wee seven or eight year old, I never turned back. Jason Voorhees was my guy, FRIDAY THE 13th my second birthday. And while Halloween still ranked as my favorite holiday at that time, I hadn’t quite made the link between Carpenter’s progenitive slasher masterpiece and All Hallows Eve. When I finally saw the movie HALLOWEEN for the first time a few years later, aged 10 or so, I remember liking it a great deal, but not yet willing to unfaithfully defect to team Michael Myers just yet. Voorhees was still my main murderous mother*cker!

Cut ahead a few years to my teenage days, when my slasher fandom and horror movie acumen had increased quite a bit. By this time my friends and I would throw franchise horror movie marathons, usually on the day said movies take place. I can’t tell you how many FRIDAY THE 13th marathons we ran back in the day, with plenty of brew and bud on deck. Naturally, we got around to running the same for the HALLOWEEN franchise damn near every October 31st, and it’s this time I not only got more familiar with the original, but closely acquainted with its various sequels (I even remember seeing H20 in the theater with friends when I was 15). In a recent Test of Time piece, I laid out precisely why HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS is my favorite sequel in the franchise, followed by parts 2, 5, 3, 6, 7, 8, plus the Rob Zombie updates. But really, it wouldn’t be until college that I really began to studiously appreciate HALLOWEEN’s expert less-is-more craftsmanship. Aside from Carpenter’s brilliant musical score, which he’s boasted as being the scariest part of the whole film, I began to appreciate HALLOWEEN as more than just another cheaply made, b-grade slasher movie, and began noticing all of the ingenious directorial flourishes the Carpenter showcased – the long tracking shots, the suspense-mounting held takes, the deep focus background camerawork, the immersive handheld POV shots of Myers equipped with the sound of heavy breathing, even the inspired choice to use a pale-painted Shatner mask as the killer’s expressionless visage, etc. The more you watch it, the more you realize how forcefully and perfectly Carpenter absolutely hammered the nail of tactile, DYI execution. I was no exception!

From there, my affinity for HALLOWEEN would grow even fonder by the year. So much so a goddamn drinking game was born to enliven biannual watches, adhering to rules that mandated taking a swig of an alcoholic beverage of some kind every time Myers kills a mother*cker, every time a Jack-o’-lantern appears on screen, every time Linda utters the word “totally,” every time the word “Boogeyman” is spoken, and every time Loomis mentions “pure evil.” Trust us friend, you abide be these here commandments, you will forever ripped-roaring and ready to go while watching HALLOWEEN.

JAMES OSTER, Film Critic

Every October, horror fans celebrate one of the most respected horror films ever made. John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN is a smart and scary story that terrified audiences on its initial release, and to this day it has inspired countless imitations - and that doesn’t even include the sequels. When our editor-in-chief, Eric Walkuski, asked each of us to share our thoughts on the classic, my memories of the 1978 slasher came rushing back. Frankly, I saw this one at too young of an age. That image of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) fighting for her life against “The Shape” (Nick Castle) was forever ingrained in my head.

The first time I saw it, it was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. In fact, after my first introduction to Michael Myers, I had one of the scariest nightmares I've ever had, and I mean this as a compliment. I remember laying in bed and thinking someone was in the house - other than my family. I looked into the hallway, and there he was… THE SHAPE. Frozen in fear, he came closer and closer and he raised his knife as he stepped into my room. I woke up. While I should have been freaked out, I was so impressed that a movie could bring on such an intense feeling that I wanted to watch it over and over again.

When it comes to the franchise as a whole, not a single one has ever lived up to the original film. Yet that is not to say that I’m not a fan of most of the movies. Even the ones that I actively don’t like - I’m talking to you, HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION - I’ll still take it in just for kicks. From the brilliantly simply score to that damn white mask, I remain a fan of the series. This is especially true when it comes to Jamie Lee Curtis and her involvement. This means that both H2O and the first sequel have a special place in my heart. After all, nobody did this kind of role better.

So this October, we here at AITH are happy to once again celebrate HALLOWEEN. Forty years ago, this wonderfully stylish low budget feature became the perfect example of how to set up scares and make a truly creepy horror film. Of course, this year we have a few more reasons to celebrate thanks to the new film currently in theaters. Forty-years later, I’d say its a safe bet that watching Michael face off against Laurie Strode will be all treat and no trick.


John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN to me was - and this is just me giving you guys my 100% honest opinion here - a disappointment when I first peeped it all those years ago. "What is the big deal?" my teenage mind wondered as credits rolled. But lucky for me, over the years HALLOWEEN became a film I was never able to shake. And as time went on my love and appreciation for the film grew and grew.

What I've come to love so much about John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN is how f*cking SIMPLE it is! The movie doesn't try to be anything other than a living ghost story that sneaks up on you one quiet night, wrecks your world, and then fades back into the shadows, awaiting its chance to creep deeper into your bones until your next viewing.

From the long, lingering takes Carpenter employs, to the absolutely chilling score, John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN is a master class in how a little goes a long way. Far too many horror movies think we need blood and gore splattering the screen in a nearly-nonstop barrage. HALLOWEEN has next to none. Too many horror movies think we need constant jump scares to keep us on the edge of our seats. HALLOWEEN has (maybe) three. Horror sometimes thinks we need big 'ol boobs bouncing to and fro in preferable slow-motion, every ten minutes. HALLOWEEN has less nudity than your mom's favorite movie, TITANIC.

As much as I dig some of the sequels that have hit over the years - and the remakes - all of them fell victim to the major flaw of the series time and time again. John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN was NOT a slasher film; it was a ghost story. It wasn't FRIDAY THE 13TH. It was NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Here's hoping some filmmaker realizes this once it's time for Blumhouse's HALLOWEEN II. Fingers crossed.



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