The first horror film I ever watched from beginning to end was the original Halloween. I can remember the day exactly: five days before All Hallows Eve itself, my thirteenth birthday, a mere day off from the icon’s 20th anniversary. My mother thought it would be a brilliant idea for us to watch the film in celebration of the season.
And then I didn’t sleep for the rest of the week. How could I? Just entering the perils of teenager-hood myself, Michael Myers was the worst bogeyman the world had to offer. Killer of the fun-loving, of the sexually-active, of the young babysitter planning for prom. He threatened all the joys other films promised my daft young brain, ready to take them away with the simplest swipe of his knife.
Worst of all? I liked it. I liked the subversion good ol’ Mikey promised; the chase and the screams and the idea that sometime people are just different. The pleasurable shiver of the fear was entirely new, the murder and mayhem a lovely surprise. The way the film sent my adrenaline rushing was a joy; the thoughts it placed in my head a revelation.
Halloween preys on our deep darks, showing us a man of remorseless evil who wants nothing more than to kill people for our… I mean, his enjoyment. The film spooks and scares in all the right ways, cold fingers gliding up your spine to raise the hair on the base of your neck. It’s a classic of the horror genre, a font of inspiration for so many that came after.
I’m certainly not the only one who feels this way – Halloween was one of the first breakthrough horror hits of its kind. Like Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project after it, Halloween was the little film that could: an indie film with a shoestring budget (approximately $325K), it won audiences over in a serious way, grossing close to $50 million dollars at the box-offices. Not only that, it made a star of first-time leading lady Jaime Lee Curtis, and sent John Carpenter hurtling to the forefront of the horror scene.
Lucky for all of us fans, Screenvision is sponsoring Halloween in theatres this month, along with the classic follow-ups Halloween 4 & 5. You can check out the local listings here or just make a date to meet me at Kendall Square Cinema, October 30th at 9pm. I’ll be the one in the clown suit.