cult horror

HALLOWEEN (1978)

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Halloween  (1978) 

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Written & Directed by John Carpenter @ 91 minutes.

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Co-written by Debra Hill.

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Alright, it is now time to dig into the twisted childhood of Michael Meyers who at 6 years old stabbed his sister to death.

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Carpenter working on a shoe-string budget of $300,000.00, turned in a gross profit of 47 million; enough to establish him as a wunderkind, & get him picture offers by the fucking wheel barrow load.

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Taglines:  Everyone is entitled to one good scare.

                The trick is to stay alive.

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                The night he came home.

                 He’s come back.

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John Carpenter has directed 28 films since 1962; many of them blockbusters, including ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 (1976), THE FOG (1980), ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981), THE THING (1982), CHRISTINE (1983), STARMAN (1984), BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (1986), ESCAPE FROM LA (1996).

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Carpenter had a musical background. He wrote the film’s score in 4 days. The theme song is written in a rare 5/4 time signature, & he claimed to have learned this rhythm from his father. The music is catchy, peppy, & very familiar, sounding way too much like Steve Boedeker’s thrilling driving score for THE EXORCIST (1976); not suggesting there is a connection, but I sure as hell heard one.

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The cinematography was done by Dean Cundy, who has lensed 85 films since 1973,

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including WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS (1974),  SO EVIL, MY SISTER (1974), CREATURE FROM BLACK LAKE (1976), ROLLER BOOGIE (1979), THE FOG (1980), PSYCHO II (1983), ROMANCING THE STONE (1985) , ROAD HOUSE (1989), HOOK (1991), JURASSIC PARK (1993), APOLLO 13 (1995). 

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HALLOWEEN’S BABE GALLERY

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Jamie Lee Curtis made her feature film debut as Laurie Strode. Carpenter liked the idea that she was Janet Leigh’s daughter, linking things to PSYCHO. She did no nudity for this film.

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In her first few films she did some nude scenes.

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She certainly made lasting impressions in Tit-Shot heaven.

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Her fabulous breasts have not made an appearance in decades; more’s the pity.

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Sandy Johnson, Playmate of the Month in 1974, played the hapless Judith Meyers.

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Her approach to nudity is much appreciated.

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When tit-shots are this incredible, we of the HH gallery smile so hard our lips go numb.

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We send our gratitude to this curvy brunette.

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P.J. Soles, one time girlfriend of Dennis Quaid, played Lynda.

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She did have some peekaboo tit shots in the film.

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We were fortunate enough, however, to dig up a couple of tit-shots from other films she’s been in too.

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Some might call her talent “perky”; just saying.

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Kyle Richards played Lindsey, at 5 years old.

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She was nice enough to provide some cheesecake shots.

Nancy Keyes did the some nudity in the film.

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It was only briefly glimpsed, but tit-shots last forever.

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Even tiny tits are appreciated here in the HH Babe Gallery

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SYNOPSIS:

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Filmed in Pasadena, the locale for the opening is Haddonfield, Illinois, on Halloween 1963. Carpenter does a lot of POV shots from “someone” outside the house, peeking in at a teenage girl making out with her boyfriend. We barely hear the dialogue–Michael is out trick-o-treating, so the couple go upstairs to the girl’s bedroom, taking a clown mask with them for spicy sex fun.

There is a clever long take, feels like one lasting 3 minutes, around the house, into the back door, to the kitchen to pick up a butcher knife, to the foot of the stairs, just as the young man is leaving (fuck me, 2-3 minutes is jack rabbit fast even for a teenager in the early 60’s)–then the camera goes upstairs, picks up the clown mask, & our POV is through the eye holes.

We see all of Judith’s clothes & under-garments strewn across the floor. She is sitting nude, brushing her hair at her dressing table. We are treated to a nice side tit-shot; she is buxom.

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She turns around so that we can get a nice complete twin breast shot, yelling Michael, Michael, Michael. We hear the knife stabs, ala Hitchcock, but no gore; just a splash of blood on her nipples as she sinks out of sight.

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Cut to a 6 year old blood boy in a clown suit standing in the yard,  holding the bloody butcher knife as his parents drive up.

Cut to a rainy night in 1978, 15 years later. A nurse is driving a Dr. Loomis up to the Smith’s Grove Sanitarium.

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He talks about being Michael Meyers psychiatrist for all those years. “I spent the first 8 years trying to reach him, he has not spoken a word for all these years. Behind his dark eyes I began to sense pure evil, waiting for his moment to strike. Then I spent 7 years trying to make sure he never gets out.” 

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That night they were heading there to drug him, & take him to the County Court for a hearing. Arriving at the sanitarium, they find several patients running free on the grounds. The doctor gets out to go check the gate, & a patient leaps onto the top of the government vehicle, smashing the shit out of the windshield, & scaring the nurse.

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She rolls up the windows, the patient begins breaking them. She opens the door & bolts for freedom, as the patient jumps into the car & drives off escaping.

Dr. Loomis says: There goes evil; evil has escaped.

The following day, Halloween, Michael shows up in Haddonfield, & he begins stalking a high school student, Laurie; who meets up with her BFF’s Annie & Lynda; they are buzzing with plans for that night

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(Annie is baby-sitting a girl for the Wallaces, & across the street, Laurie is babysitting a boy at the Doyles.

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Laurie begins to realize she has a stalker, seeing him following her on the street, behind a hedge, at school behind his car, in her back yard, near the clothes line–he’s there, then gone; no one pays any attention to her complaining.

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He is wearing a mechanic’s blue cover-alls. When we see him, we mostly see a  shoulder, or back of the head shot. We do hear him breathing hard, & his theme music tips us off that he is the stalker; long shots only, no close-ups of his cheap white mask ( which actually was a 2 buck Star Trek, James T. Kirk mask they picked up).

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Cut to the local cemetery, where Dr. Loomis discovers someone has stolen the headstone for Judith Meyers.

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He meets with the sheriff, Annie’s father, & they begin to canvas the neighborhood for him.

Cut to Laurie babysitting Tommy, reading stories, talking about the Boogeyman.

Cut to Annie babysitting for Lyndsey. Both households are watching Howard Hawks’ classic film THE THING from another world. We become aware that Michael is watching her from outside. Enter the family dog, who growls & barks at Annie. Later he is outside & he confronts Michael, who strangles it, breaking its neck.

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She spills something on her skirt & blouse & quickly strips them off, giving us a nice young girl in white lace panties peek, with a quick side shot of her breast; bra-less, of course. She puts on a man’s shirt & heads out to a separate building that has the washer & dryer in it.

Somebody has locked her in the laundry room. She tries to crawl out of a window but get stuck halfway, giving us a great white pantie butt-shot to savor. Paul calls for her on the house phone, so Lindsey comes out with the message, saving the day.

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Cut to the old Meyer house, vacant since the murder. Dr. Loomis & the sheriff wander around in it. They find the remains of a dog. “He must have got hungry,” said the sheriff. “But nothing human could have torn a dog up like that.” The doctor replied, “He was never human.”

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All the while they are staring at the floor, & we do not see the dog; come on, Carpenter, what kind of lazy cheap-assed bullshit shot is this?

Annie, on the phone finds out her bad boy-friend, Paul, has snuck out of his parent’s restriction, & wants to hook up with his frizzy-haired fellaciator. She is the only one of the girls that has a car, so she takes Lindsey, to be watched by Laurie, joining Tommy in watching FORBIDDEN PLANET. 

Annie, still only wearing panties & man’s shirt, gets into her car to go pick up her stud muffin–but Michael was hiding in the back seat, & he strangles her with a cord. She squirms a lot, flashing panties, but not any nipple-shots.

Cut to the Doyle house, where the kids are playing hide-&-seek. Tommy looks out a window & sees Michael carrying Annie’s corpse from out back, into the front door. He tells Laurie about it, but, of course no one believes a 5 year old raving about the boogeyman on Halloween night.

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Cut to Lynda, & her main nut-squeeze, Bob, arriving at the Wallace house, chugging beers, making out on the couch. Bob seems to get a set of make-out blue balls quickly,

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so he drags her upstairs to use one of the bedrooms. As they ascend, we get a glimpse of Michael watching them.

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Cut to the bedroom, as the couple locked in coitus rock the casbah & the queen bed. They have covers over them, but Bob’s muscled back, humped up like a dwarf in rut tells the story. Bob masterfully makes love for 3.5 minutes, before rolling off the moaning bitch. Lynda pulls back the covers several times, & her diamond-hard erect nipples poke for the ceiling. She lights a cigarette, & demands a fucking beer.

Bob, realizing that pussy rules, gets up & goes downstairs for fresh beers. He picked up two beers & turned around to find Michael in his face; strangling him, he is pushed up against the wall, & with one hand Bob was lifted off the floor with his feet twitching 5” off the linoleum. Then Michael produces yet another butcher knife, which he plunges into the middle of Bob’s chest, pinning him to the door; WTF, as cool as this looks, there is no kitchen butcher knife blade could support the weight of a strapping male teenage (like 170 pounds) for more than 3 seconds; just saying.

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Cut to Lynda buffing her nails topless. Michael appears in the doorway, covered in a sheet, wearing his glassed over the eye holes.

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She tries to engage him in conversation,  even flashing her tits at him, saying, Do you see anything you like?  (in this version, the camera does not show her tits; in other versions it did).

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Pissed off at his non-response, she gets up, partially puts on her blouse, giving us several healthy tit-shots as she calls Laurie, across the street, to find out where the fuck Annie was. While talking on the phone to Laurie, Michael decides to strangle her with the phone cord;

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with her blouse opening up nicely, so we could see perky tits bouncing.

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[God damn it, all this hoopla media blitz showing Big Mike hold butcher knives & shit, & instead he prefers to strangle bitches with cords; maybe the fucking posters should have had him holding a phone menacingly!) At least with Bob, he strangled & stabbed him; that counts for something, right?

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At this point, our scream queen has not made a peep; unsettled by the sound of Lynda being choked first to orgasm, then to death, Laurie puts the kids to bed. then locks up the house & heads over to the Wallace’s; the music begins to thump like cockroaches in a samba line.

Crossing the street slowly, we get several ass shots through her very tight jeans; one of the tightest, most shapely butts in movie history; nearly perfect; & well exploited in future films.

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She enters the house, wanders around a bit, then goes upstairs; finding Annie spread-eagled on the bed, very dead, with the Judith Meyer tombstone propped up behind her.

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She finds Lynda stuffed in the dumb waiter, and Bob, hanging from his heels in the closet, like a slaughtered sheep.

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She is suddenly attacked by Michael, who tries to strangle her; fighting him off she topples backward over the stair banister; getting pretty banged up.

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He did, in fact, get a couple of stabs into her shoulder. She reaches the door & dashes into the street screaming for help, as Michael is shuffling along behind her like Boris Karloff with a charlie-horse.

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People see her outside, screaming, blood spattered; but WTF, it’s Halloween, so they close the curtains, turn off the porch light & go back to blow-job canasta, or dwarf-tossing, or some other perverted shit.

She limps & runs back to the Doyle house, rousing little Tommy to let her in. She tells him to return the bedroom & lock the door. Then, of course, she discovers that a French door is open, & Michael is somewhere in the house. She shrinks down on the couch, frightened, in shock.

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Michael leaps up from the shadows behind the couch, stabs at her, misses, while she stabs him in the neck with a knitting needle. (no wonder he doesn’t use his butcher knife much; he can’t stab shit with it.)

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Laurie then picks up the knife, & stabs the punk bitch like 5 times.

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Weeping, of course, she drops the knife, & heads upstairs to tell the kids, everything is OK; I killed the boogyman. 

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Sorry, Miss Laurie, you only pissed him off, because he is standing right behind you; the kids scramble back back downstairs with orders to run to the neighbors & get them to call the police; while Laurie fights with the well- bloodied Michael.

He gets his hands on her throat (again with the fucking strangling; enough already). As the kids rush out of the house screaming, Dr. Loomis, who was “on patrol”, goes into the house to investigate. Laurie is at full-tilt screaming at this point; kicking him in the balls, which he doesn’t seem to notice.

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Loomis shoots Michael in the chest, which does not put him down, then he emptied five more cartridges into the big lunk-head in the cover-alls; who staggers backwards, & falls over a railing to two stories below, lying in a tangled heap in the yard.

Laurie, weeping: Was that really the Boogyman?

Dr. Loomis: Yes, it was.

The good doctor returns to the railing, & looks down into the yard. Michael Meyers was gone. The look on his face read, Uh-oh, we’re fucking in for it now.

Roll End Credits.

Prepare for HALLOWEEN II (1981) which take up exactly where this film ends.

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Rotten Tomatoes rated the film at 94% Critic’s approval & 89% Audience approval.

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Derek Adams of TIME OUT wrote: “Perhaps not so resonant as PSYCHO, which it pays homage to, but it breathes the same air.”

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Roger Ebert wrote: “This is an absolute merciless thriller, a movie so violent scary that, yes, I would compare it to PSYCHO.”

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Dustin Putman wrote: “To call HALLOWEEN merely brilliant isn’t giving it  enough credit. As a horror film, it is a historic milestone that single-handedly shaped & altered the future of an entire genre; it is downright transcendent.”

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Tim Braxton of ANTAGONY & ECSTACY wrote: “Virtually perfect–it is the only horror film that I would beg each & every lover of movies to watch, if I could only one.”

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Felix Gonzalez, Jr. of DVD REVIEWS wrote: “The film hits us at a level deeper than most slasher films, & even as we are entertained by it, we are equally drawn to its powerful suspense & implications.”

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MY RATING:

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In 1978, this movie blew my mind, & my socks off; what a concept! A criminally insane killer sits mute for 15 years waiting for that one moment when people would let their guard down. Then with unbelievable silent swiftness, he make his move; gone before they knew it.

The first few times we see him standing at staring at Laurie, we are surprised no one else notices him. He stood like an invisible statue, staring like a cat at a mouse hole. Focused elsewhere, so still, he pulled no interest; was almost  invisible.

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But in the 30+ years I have seen too much life, too many movies, so I found myself not finding the script all that strong; & even the musical score seemed a bit trite & rushed.

 

I was fascinated to find out that Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Peter O’Toole, Kirk Douglas, Walter Matthau, Lloyd Bridges, David Carradine, Dennis Hopper & Yul Brynner were all considered for the part of Dr. Loomis. Donald Pleasence received 20K for 5 days work. Jamie Lee Curtis made 8K for two months working her butt off.

I did appreciate the nude scenes, even though they were very cutsey softcore fare. I did not really dig the darkness for all the kills, masking the killer’s craft. All the strangling pissed me off; this one barely meets the minimum requirements for being labeled a Slasher Film.

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When Michael is unmasked for a moment, his face looks mostly normal; which could have been more psychologically significant if handled more deftly. But, hey, let us not forget the historic significance this film had to the horror genre. I once rated it at 9 stars in 1978; in retrospect, I have to reduce it to 7.5 stars. Perhaps the nudity & gore will intensify as the sequels are viewed & reviewed.

 

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