October 23, 2012
The first horror movies I ever saw in a theatre were Alien and The Amityville Horror, both in 1979; I was eight (yes, my parents took me to horror movies when I was eight - things were different then). Knowing that John Carpenter’s Halloween was released in 1978, it’s easy to deduce that I have never seen Halloween, one of the most influential horror films (if not THE most influential) of our time, on the big screen. All that will change this year, as Halloween is being revived in theaters for a limited run.
There is little dispute that Halloween is an extremely important film in the horror canon. Carpenter’s masterpiece not only provided a new form of terror to audiences who were used to being frightened by giant rubber sharks or little girls spitting pea soup, but it laid the groundwork for the entire slasher craze of the eighties. Halloween has been dismissed by some as being cliché or predictable, but what these naysayers fail to realize is that, prior to Halloween, the conventions of the slasher genre that we take for granted today didn’t exist. The virginal final girl, the deadly punishment for sin, the “I’ll be right back” moments – Halloween invented all of that. To say that Halloween was an influential film is a bit like saying that Wayne Gretzky was a hockey player – the claim is true, but the modesty in the understatement is staggering. Not only did Halloween single-handedly usher in the golden age of slasher movies, paving the way for enduring classics like Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, but it also started the holiday themed horror movie trend of the eighties, forcing writers to scramble to find any available holiday and turn it into a bloodbath, green-lighting films like My Bloody Valentine, April Fools Day and Silent Night, Deadly Night.
Anyone who is remotely interested in Halloween has almost certainly already seen it. I’d venture to say that I myself have seen it upwards of a hundred times, between cable T.V. viewings this time of year, all of the worn out VHS tapes I’ve gone through and my trusty DVD re-releases. But there is something that is beckoning to me, asking me to come out of the comfort of my own home and plop down hard earned money for the chance to see a movie that I practically know by heart one more time. The thought of the lights going down, the spooky strains of that iconic musical theme playing from a real sound system while the words “Moustapha Akkad presents Donald Pleasence in John Carpenter’s Halloween” project onto a huge screen accompanied by that burning jack-o-lantern image without me there to see it is, well, too much to bear. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.
The revival is happening on screens all over the country just in time for Halloween. The feature will be preceded by horror author Justin Beahm’s documentary short "You Can’t Kill the Bogeyman: 35 Years of Halloween" and screens are being added daily. A list of theaters can be found at www.halloweenonscreen.com, and lots more information is at www.halloweenmovies.com. Check it out so you don’t miss the night HE came home...again!