For obvious reasons, Halloween is the quintessential October horror film. Come this time of year, sites will be flooded with articles and lists praising the film and its enduring legacy, and some will even promise to tell you 15 things you never knew about the movie. They’ll be wrong, of course, but hey.
As a horror fan and horror-website-runner-person myself, it is my duty to contribute a Halloween-related listicle during the month of October lest I want my gorehound card revoked. But instead of pointing out things everyone knows already (we get it, it’s a William Shatner mask) or attempting to write a thesis on the ‘sin equals death’ puritanical aspects of the movie, I thought I’d simply point out a few things I dig about it. Feelings that you the reader may also share. No need to over-analyze this sucker!
In the end, when it comes down to it, there’s not much to say about John Carpenter’s Halloween that hasn’t already been said a thousand times already, but here are a few moments I personally enjoy from the movie.
This is one of my favorite moments in the film, and one of only two times in the entire series we actually see Dr. Loomis crack a smile (the other is when he’s drinkin’ in the truck with Rev. Jack Sayer, in Halloween 4.) Loomis, whispering creepily from behind a bush, manages to scare the piss out of Lonnie Elamb and his buddies who are trying to sneak into the old Myers place. Lonnie Elamb is the little prick who, along with his cohorts, bullies poor Tommy Doyle earlier in the film, causing him to trip and fall on top of the pumpkin he was carrying, smashing it to pieces. Even before that, Laurie Strode remarks, “Lonnie Elamb probably won’t get out of the sixth grade.” That would have been killer foreshadowing if Michael Myers actually ended up doing away with ol’ Lonnie, but alas, Loomis’ scare is as close as he gets to a comeuppance. What’s Lonnie doing nowadays? Probably tending bar somewhere is Russellville.
After Michael escapes Smith’s Grove Sanitarium via carjacked station wagon, he heads back to his hometown of Haddonfield. Along the way, he kills a mechanic for his clothes (those hospital gowns are quite drafty) and breaks into a hardware store to steal some Halloween masks, some rope, and some knives (nevermind that no hardware store has ever sold Halloween masks.) But after that, then what? With nothing but time on his hands, what’s an escaped homicidal maniac to do? Well, he breaks into his old family home and snacks on a dog (he’s a dog-eatin’ dude, we later come to find out.) Why this strikes me as such a unique and cool thing is because this was before all the familial stuff was set in place, all that family bloodline crapola. Ultimately, Michael just needed a place to crash before deciding his next move, so he went home. This is where he first sets eyes on Laurie, when she leaves a key under the doormat. I just really like the idea of crazy Michael Myers squatting in his old abandoned home trying to figure out what to do next.
This is such a brief scene, but it comes out of nowhere and offers a truly great jump scare. After Lonnie and company finish bullying Tommy, they scatter (like the cowards they are!) The camera follows one of the bullies when BOOM, he runs smack into Michael Myers. He never sees it coming and neither do we, the audience. Michael stops the kid, grabbing him by the shoulders, the kid staring up in blank-faced terror at Michael’s unseen mask. For a short second, we’re not sure what’s going to happen. We kinda want to see this a-hole kid get handled accordingly. But as soon as it happens, it’s over: Michael slowly releases the bully, and the kid takes of running. Everything about this incredibly brief encounter is so awesome and effectively chilling. It just helps ratchet up the suspense surrounding this mysterious, unseen killer even more.
After discovering all of her murdered friends in the house across the street (and almost being murdered herself) Laurie frantically escapes the house, screaming for help. The streets are dead, there are no trick or treaters in sight, and it seems as though all of the houses on the block have closed up shop for the night. She continues screaming and pleading, and ends up desperately banging on the front door of the first darkened house she comes across. The porch lights flick on, and someone peers through the window blinds at Laurie, who continues to squeal and beg. And they respond by turning off the lights and closing the blinds.
Holy shit. It’s a very real and hopeless feeling: Laurie is in danger and surrounded by people who could potentially help, they just can’t be bothered. Whether the neighbor thought she was some hopped up teen pulling a Halloween prank will forever remain unknown. But it’s a potent reaction that adds to the dread and despair of the whole situation.
Last but certainly not least, the closet scene. In the final act of the film, in a desperate attempt to escape the relentless Myers, Laurie locks herself in a cramped little closet. We see Michael’s shadow through the slats in the door. Soon, he starts tugging at it. Getting nowhere, he starts punching through the slats. Laurie is trapped! Michael hits the lightbulb, looks around, spots Laurie on the floor, and turns off the light.
She somehow manages to subdue him with a wire hanger to the eye, and we the audience — not realizing we’d been holding out breath the entire time — let out a big exhale. Though it lasts roughly a minute, it feels like an eternity. I honestly think this is one of the — if not the — scariest moments in horror film. I really can’t say enough about how tense and effective this short scene is.
Loomis and Nurse Chambers are unaware of Michael’s breakout from Smith’s Grove as they approach the hospital, but Nurse Chambers spots something strange that tips them off: a handful of patients wandering around the grounds. Like most of the scenes I’ve included, this is incredibly brief — a flash, really — but the thought of these potentially dangerous patients wandering around at night in the dark in a heavy downpour is just too creepy, man. They have the appearance of ghosts or zombies, which just adds to the spook factor.
Well, those are some of my favorite moments from a movie I’ve easily watched hundreds of times. What are some of your favorite moments from Halloween?