That was not the case in 1980, when I saw John Carpenter’s low-budget, high-scare slasher flick, Halloween (1978), starring Donald Pleasance, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Tony Moran as Michael Myers.
As a brief recap for the two of you who have never seen it, Halloween tells the story of a boy who kills his sister on Halloween 1963, is sent to an asylum, and then escapes to finish terrorizing his hometown on the 15th anniversary of his first kill. He is chased back to Haddonfield, IL, by Dr. Sidney Loomis (Pleasance) and is able to get off a little death and destruction among high school senior Laurie Strode (Curtis) and her friends before being dispatched by Loomis.
I say dispatched because, despite a few slugs in multiple vital body parts, a wire hanger (made forever scary by Faye Dunaway) to the skull, and a two-story drop to the ground, Myers walks away, living to kill another day (or seven).
The film itself is very scary. Carpenter directed the film on a shoestring budget, and while the production values suffered a little, it still feels big and real. And that score! So simple, yet so ominous. It can rattle the soul even nearly 40 years after its release. Case in point, my wife has the main theme as her ring tone, and I seize up every time her phone rings.
The brutality of Michael Myers combined with the score and the terror of not seeing behind the mask still resonates…even though I now know that the mask was a Captain Kirk mask, turned inside out.
The first time I saw this movie, it was at home in 1980. I was 12 or 13. The film was originally released on VHS (I KNOW!) in 1979, and my older brother and I rented it one night when Dad wasn’t home. We watched the entire thing, and I found myself behind the couch for A LOT of it. And my brother, being four years older, was no help. He had seen the movie and knew when the tensest moments were, so he could startle me at the best times. And he did.
I was a jangle of nerves when I finally went to bed. It took a while to fall asleep, but it was tough.
At about 2 a.m., I woke up – kind of – and looked through my open door into the hallway and saw – I SWEAR – Michael Myers, running at me with a knife! I fully woke up screaming my fool head off about the monster with the white face running at me with a knife the size of my arm. Dad came out of his room and my brother out of his…
Needless to say, Dad took away our Blockbuster card that night, and I vowed to never watch another slasher flick with my brother. But the damage was done. Funny thing, the sequels and the remakes never even rattled me. But, Halloween remains the only film that has ever scared me and has, therefore, left an indelible mark on me.