When UK film critic Mark Kermode interviewed John Carpenter, specifically about the film on it's 21st anniversary, he bemoaned the fact that modern audiences needed to be spoon fed- that the plot and all its details have to spelt out loud and clear. This is something that he stubbornly refuses to do in HALLOWEEN. One thing he says in the interview though that I disagree with is the fact that he states that, "..none of the sequels have hurt the original". I'd say that they have. HALLOWEEN gains a lot of its strength from the fact that much of it remains unexplained. What's scarier- knowing that somebody is intent on killing, but the victims are purely random? Or knowing who exactly has been targeted and why? … I'd argue that what makes HALLOWEEN so terrifying is the fact that there's no reason why Michael Myers targets the specific group of teenagers in the film. He stumbles across them and attaches himself like a Grim Reaper limpet- perhaps the girls remind him of his sister a little, but, for a cruel twist of fate, he chooses that particular group to target. Now, when the sequel came out and it turns out that Michael had a mission- he had, in Jamie Lee Curtis, another sister to kill, well, for one it doesn't make a great deal of sense; and two it goes a long way to destroying that horrible uncertainty and nagging feeling at the back of your mind that anyone could be the victim of an unpredictable monster like Myers- even you! Carpenter admits culpability, "…well, you know, that was the sequel. I didn't want to direct it. I got forced into writing it. It was 2 o'clock in the morning, I had a six pack of beer and it was the only idea I could think of." … Now, it's not really Carpenter's fault- he never intended a sequel in the first place anyway. The ending of the original was intended as a type of TWILIGHT ZONE conclusion- that, as Carpenter states, "Michael Myers, he's everywhere, he's in the dark- he lives in the dark." The only sequels that Myers was originally slated to appear in were the ones that occur in the dark- in the nightmares of the people who had just watched HALLOWEEN! Still, box-office decreed that a sequel did follow (three years later- in 1981), and Carpenter was left with a sizeable problem- how can you successfully repeat a film that was essentially about so very little? In-so-much that one of the main strengths of HALLOWEEN was the fact that it was so lean- there was no storytelling flab. An audience would not accept the amount of loose ends that worked so well in the original, in a sequel- if he could not take anything further away then his only choice was to add. The truth is that producing a movie as brilliantly simple as HALLOWEEN is not a trick that could be repeated. Adding the further exposition with the family connection- and expanding the Myers mythos to go some way to explaining, albeit obliquely, his supernatural nature with references to Samhaim, was a way of forcefully extending the story. But, this very move, whilst allowing a sequel, actually lessens the impact of the original- I mean, who can watch the original without having at the back of your mind the fact that Laurie Strode is supposed to be Michael's sister?
Despite all of this HALLOWEEN remains a movie to cherish. It's incredible that it can still seem so vibrant and engaging- it's ability to grab the viewer and scare them shitless is resolutely undiminished. None of the films that followed in its wake (many with final-girls with masculine sounding names like Laurie, and with boogey men (and women) of their own) are as good- but then again, how could they possibly top near perfect film making? Having said that, many of those films are highly enjoyable (be they cheesy or classy) and are, indeed, things to cherish themselves (well, at least if you're anyone like me!); but Carpenter's film remains a cut above.
BODYCOUNT 5 female:3 / male:2
1) Female repeatedly stabbed with butcher's knife
2) Male- corpse glimpsed in undergrowth
3) Female strangled and stabbed
4) Male impaled on butcher's knife
5) Female strangled with telephone cord
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