Sam Strange Remembers: HALLOWEEN

Sam Strange recalls the time he made a seminal slasher classic.

A long time ago I made this movie called Halloween. It became amazingly popular, and is now regarded as one of the first and best films of the slasher genre. It’s garnered respectability outside of genre circles as well, a singular accolade for this type of film.

That’s great! It always makes me happy when one of my films goes on to be the best at stuff. And since it’s the Halloween season, I decided to treat myself and actually watch my masterpiece for the first time.

Halloween is about a killer named Michael Myers. Myers comes from a normal family. But he’s not normal. He’s always killing things (I assume). When the film begins, we see him kill his older sister. This scene is a master-class of suspense and tension because we see the whole thing through the killer’s eyes. And I mean that literally because he puts on a mask, and we can only see out his eyes holes. It turns out you save money on film if you buy it by the circle.

Michael’s sister goes upstairs with her boyfriend and has the fastest sex ever, after which he bolts. When Michael sneaks up on her, she still has her shirt off and everything, but it’s kind of wasted nudity because we only see what Michael sees, and he’s just not interested in his sister’s great breasts. Instead he wants to stab her. He’s so interested in stabbing her, in fact, that he stops looking at her while he’s doing it and looks at his rising and falling knife-hand instead. This might explain why when we see her dead body, she seems to have been stabbed only once despite Michael’s twenty to thirty attempts to hit the bullseye.

Michael then walks outside right when his parents come home from a neighborhood watch meeting. They take off his mask and gasp that their completely normal son graduated from killing little things to killing his big sister. Shockingly, he just stands there like he’s sleep walking. If he were the embodiment of evil, you’d think he’d stake a swing at mom and dad, but he doesn’t. If he were just a crazy kid obsessed with killing family members, you’d think he’d take a swing at mom and dad, but he doesn’t. Whatever he is, his kill switch is off for the decade.

Michael spends the rest of his childhood in the looney bin where he meets Loony Loomis, a fellow inmate who likes to pretend he’s a psychiatrist. Loomis wants Michael to be his friend, so he spends fifteen years trying to talk to him. But instead of responding, Michael just stares at the wall. This hurts Loomis’ feelings and over time he develops the pseudo-professional opinion that Michael is the embodiment of all evil.

One day, after a “good behavior trip” to the zoo, Loomis and his nurse return to the loony bin only to find all the loonies running amok because Michael Myers broke open all the loony doors (I assume). Loomis’s mind automatically understand the horrible gravity of the situation: his best friend has flown the coop to inflict evil upon the world. It’s up to Loomis, and only Loomis, to bring him back home.

Now free, Michael heads back to his hometown of Haddenfield. He breaks into his old house and eats a hotdog, but after that he’s not sure what to do. Luckily, a random girl slips a key under his doormat and finally inspires him to be the living embodiment of evil he knows he should be.

The girl’s name is Laurie Strode. She goes to school with two other girls. One has dark hair and one has blonde hair. They both kind of give Laurie crap because she’s shy and straight-laced while they’re far more fun. They’re all in a club together called The Babysitter’s Club because they’re all babysitters. All kinds of wacky stuff happens in this club, but the movie never goes into it. Suffice to say, if someone were to write books about their pre-Halloween adventures, it’d be pretty adorable. This film, however, marks the club’s final night of work before drifting apart forever, and it’s not cute at all.

Michael stalks Laurie all day. At some point he finds a cool mask. Now that he’s conquered his insecurities, he begins to grow embodiment of evil powers. For instance, he can disappear at will. There’s one part where Laurie sees him starting at her from behind some hanging clothes. We see him, then we see how scared she is, and then we see that he’s gone. Since she never actually looked away, she must have seen him disappear, but his embodiment of evil powers replaces her memory with a fainter version she can’t be certain was real.

Loomis follows a trail of dead bodies to Haddenfield. He knows Michael is in the town but not where. Because Loomis himself is an escaped Loony, he can’t go to the authorities in any official way. He is able, however, to approach the town’s sheriff and warn him about Michael. The sheriff agrees to help Loomis and keep the situation quiet. Their plan is to walk around. After a while, Loomis gets tired and amends his contribution to just standing outside Michael’s old house.

Once nightfall hits, the babysitting begins and Michael starts making his dreams reality. On one side of the street, Laurie Palmer watches a little boy who will someday become Paul Rudd. On the other, her friend with dark hair is watching a girl who will someday become Joel McHale. Michael starts off with the dark hair girl. For a long time he kind of just teases her. Like, she’ll walk by a door that he’s standing behind. Or he’ll look at her through window while she’s doing dishes. The problem is, she never sees him, so she never gets scared. This irritates him so he gets more proactive.

First he uses his embodiment of evil powers to make her spill stuff on her dress so she’s forced to wash it in the outside laundry room. Here, his pranks become more vicious. He uses his embodiment of evil powers to lock her in the room, forcing her to crawl out the window where she gets stuck with her butt in the air. Humiliated, she has to call to the little girl to save her. Even though no one can see him, Michael Myers is lurking in the room’s shadows, laughing his ass off. Pretty soon he gets bored and strangles the girl. That takes too long though. Pretty soon he gets bored and cuts her throat instead.

Now that he’s a little more geared up, he’s ready to go get Laurie. But providence puts more side-victims in his way, which he can’t say no to because they allow him to level-up his embodiment of evil powers. The blonde girl and her boyfriend come to use the dark hair girl’s babysitting house as place to make whoopee. The coast is clear for them because the dark hair girl is dead, and Laurie’s watching the other kid.

So just like when he was a little killer, Michael allows whoopee to commence before ending anyone’s life. The first to go is the guy. Michael pins him to the wall with a knife. Then he sort of checks out his handiwork and calls it good. As with everyone Michael kills, the death of this guy we only just met is a big deal because its an infiltration and denial of suburbia’s safe complacency. We know so much about him that we’re forced to envision the long and fruitful future he almost had. Truly the death of American innocence.

Next he goes for the girl. Instead of using his really scary mask to his advantage, Michael puts on a sheet and the dead guy’s glasses because he wants to sneak up on her but fears a cowboy costume might look silly. Of course, she thinks its her boyfriend and lets Michael get close enough to strangle her with a telephone cord while she’s on the phone with Laurie. His embodiment of evil powers are soaring now, so he actually gets the strangulation right this time.

At this point, Loomis finally gets tired of standing in bushes and starts walking around instead, hoping to hear someone scream. Two steps later, he trips over his untied shoelaces and falls in some dog poop. As he gets up, automatic lawn sprinklers turn on and get him all wet. Also, some street punks give him a wedgie. It’s simply more terrifying when the only person who knows what’s up can’t help you because he’s completely incompetent.

Back at the two houses, Michael is all amped up on embodiment of evil now, so he starts going after Laurie. What he doesn’t expect is that Laura’s nerdiness is a valuable asset. When he’s choking her, she suddenly pulls a crochet needle out of her bag and sticks a tiny bit of it in his neck. This makes him recoil and fall, not because it hurts him, but because he can’t believe a teenager has crochet needles on hand.

She thinks it’s over even though the wound she gave him wouldn’t incapacitate Steven Hawking much less the embodiment of evil. Immediately she runs upstairs to check on the kids. Of course, he follows her and traps her in the closet where she uses some tips her slutty friends told her about turning a wire hanger into a weapon. After jabbing his eye, Michael drops his knife and she stabs him with it. The nightmare is finally over.

She steps over his body and carefully puts his knife back in his hand out of politeness. Relieved that she’s safe, she sits with her back to Michael and starts crying. He of course gets up and comes at her again. In their struggle she rips off his mask and finds another mask underneath. He’s so much an embodiment of evil now that he no longer has a face.

As he fixes his mask, she takes the knife and cuts his head off. Finally it’s all over. Relived, she lays down next to him and cries. But then he gets up again and suddenly has a new head. At this point, she just says “fuck it” and gives up.

Luckily, Loomis heard her screams and comes to the rescue, shooting Michael six times in the chest. The bullets force him back, and he falls off the balcony. Loomis goes to check on him, knowing full well that Michael will already have disappeared. Saddened by the loss of his friend, Loomis dedicates his life to finding Michael, who must be halfway to the house next door by now.

Laurie goes to the hospital. Eventually she grows up and cuts Michael’s head off again. When he finally does kill her, she truly no longer gives a shit.

(three stars)