Tag Archives: Halloween

Slashionista

It took a good 20 years, but people finally cottoned on that I kinda like slasher movies, so ensuing birthdays have resulted in some garments to be proud of.

My wardrobe, everybody… Be forewarned – I don’t iron.

halloween t-shirt slasher michael myers jason voorhees freddy krueger abbey road

love my Haddonfield High Class of ’78 t-shirt. Though someone recently pointed out Laurie would’ve been Class of ’79. Cheers, Paul.

My friend Kevin picked me up the awesome Abbey Road one, which nobody where I work can get their head around. Lonely life.

jason voorhees t-shirt friday the 13th part vi 6 jason x

My newest (left) and my oldest: The Japanese VHS artwork on a stretchy fabric and super comfortable.

College roomie Grace bought me the New Line Jason shirt, which once terrified a child walking past me in the opposite direction.

friday the 13th camp crystal lake t-shirt jason voorhees

If we’re going to be pedantic, it was the summer of ’79 that Mrs Voorhees ran amok at Camp Crystal Lake, but that doesn’t make this baseball shirt any less awesome. Currently my favourite.

The many faces of Jason came on the same day. I was asked not to wear this to work.

camp crystal lake t-shirts friday the 13th jason voorhees

Sadly, the white one has stretched into a warped shape, and the yellow one (with ‘Counselor’ printed on the back) has faded over time.

prom night t shirt friday the 13th part 2 t-shirt jason voorhees

Classic Prom Night artwork and Japanese Friday the 13th Part 2; I can’t wear the latter as they sent a size too small.

There we go. Worn with cargo shorts circa April to October, cargo pants the rest of the year.

Fill up with fear

body bags 1993THE GAS STATION

4 Stars  1993/18/23m

A.k.a. Body Bags (segment 1)

Director: John Carpenter / Writers: Billy Brown & Dan Angel / Cast: Alex Datcher, Robert Carradine, David Naughton, George ‘Buck’ Flower, Wes Craven, Sam Raimi.

Body Count: 3


Probably about as close as we’ll ever get to seeing John Carpenter direct another slasher film, The Gas Station was the first of three segments to his 1993 anthology Body Bags (the other two concerned Stacy Keach having a bad hair life, and something about Mark Hamill’s eye).

Alex Datcher is perfect as Anne, a college girl starting her first nightshift as the cashier at a Haddonfield (!) gas station, not far from the stomping ground of an at-large serial killer.

Wes Craven is her first customer, a creepy old dude looking for chips, followed soon by a flirtatious handsome guy, then a homeless fellow after the restroom key, a playful couple, and finally silence… but then she spots the car on the mount in the garage going up and down by itself.

At 23 minutes, this is a slasher flick on speed, meta’d right down to a quarter of the usual length, and Anne is soon running and screaming: Windows are bashed in, bodies fall out of lockers… Pretty much everything that happened to Jamie Lee Curtis in the last act of Halloween happens here.

the gas station 1993 john carpenter

The casting of a black actress as the final girl is refreshing against Carpenter’s retread, featuring some of the same shot composition, and although we don’t get much time with her, we’re quick to support Anne through her ordeal.

It couldn’t be a feature length outing, but it’s nice that Carpenter stopped by to fill up on some stalking goodness.

Blurbs-of-interest: George Buck Flower was also in Berserker and Cheerleader Camp; Sam Raimi (playing a corpse) also acted in Intruder.

 

Pumpkin Face

pumpkin karver 2006 dvd

THE PUMPKIN KARVER

1.5 Stars  2006/15/88m

“Every face is a work of art.”

Director/Writer: Robert Mann / Writer: Sheldon Silverstein / Cast: Amy Weber, Michael Zara, Minka Kelly, Terrence Evans, David J. Wright, David Austin, David Phillips, Alex Weed, Charity Shea, Mistie Adams, Briana Gerber, Jared Snow, Jonathan Conrad.

Body Count: 8


Weber and Zara are siblings new to the small town of Carver (groan), after a Halloween prank at their expense ended with Zara accidentally killing her sister’s boyfriend. One year on – to the day, as ever – they attend a big party away from adult supervision where a killer in the same mask as that used in the prank begins turning the faces of partygoers into human Jack-o-Lanterns.

A creepy old local pops up every now and then to torment Zara about the sacred job of a Carver and some babble about the ‘evil within’.

Given that the story strands a large number of characters in the middle of nowhere, nothing actually happens until the last 25 minutes, when it probably should’ve spread out the action to maintain interest.

the pumpkin karver 2006

As it is, The Pumpkin Karver is a pretty boring affair with too few flourishes to make up for slack pacing and a stupid, unexplained ending. Combine these elements with annoying characters (too many of whom survive) and it has all the appeal of a rotting pumpkin on November 12th.

Blurbs-of-interest: Amy Weber was in Kolobos; Terrence Evans was the old perv in the wheelchair in both Texas Chainsaw Massacre re-do’s; David Austin and Charity Shea were in (the fairly similar) Scarred.

The Big One.

halloween 1978

HALLOWEEN

5 Stars  1978/18/88m

“The night HE came home!”

Director/Writer: John Carpenter / Writer: Debra Hill / Cast: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Loomis, P.J. Soles, Charles Cyphers, Kyle Andrews, Brian Andrews, Nick Castle.

Body Count: 5

Laughter Lines: “You know it’s Halloween. I guess everyone deserves one good scare.”


HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

I’ve been avoiding reviewing Halloween for a few years for two reasons: Firstly that it’s just so huge – what else can I add to a film that’s probably been put under the microscope more times than co-boogeyman Donald Trump has hit on underage girls?

Also, it means I have to troll back through eight years of posts and link it. And it gets mentioned a lot. And I’m old. And tired.

Stand by for lots of pictures.

halloween young michael myers clown 1978

Watching it today, it struck me that I obviously hadn’t seen it with decent picture and sound before, as I heard a whole lot more than usual. Never knew Don’t Fear the Reaper was playing in the car during Laurie and Annie’s drive to their babysitting gigs before.

The simplicity of the story belies its genius: Madman incarcerated for homicide as a child breaks out of his institution fifteen years later and returns to his small down to slay anew.

halloween 1978 body

Everyone always forgets about this poor chap.

As a much-analysed film, Halloween‘s numerous bloopers are brought up a lot, so viewing it with such familiarity sometimes turns into a game of spot-the-mistake, which isn’t a good way to enjoy any film, unless it’s really bad or pretentious.

halloween 1978 laurie tommy myers house

“Lonnie Lamb said bad things happened there.”

What I noticed in this viewing was a significant difference in acting ability between Pleasence and Curtis and the rest of the cast. Of course, it goes in layers, but the primary offenders are bit-parters: Laurie’s dad and his robotic delivery of “don’t forget to drop the keys off…”, the kids tormenting Tommy at school, Judith Myers’ boyfriend.

halloween 1978 bullies

It would’ve been awesome for this trio to have re-appeared in one of the sequels and gotten cut up.

But even within the main cast, Curtis outshines everyone around her with her natural talent: She is the shy girl down the street, sensible and dependable, you would have her babysit for you anytime.

On the flipside of Laurie’s bookish good girl, there’s the lurking presence of evil that’s Michael Myers. Far from most of his ensuing imitators and even his own incarnations in the gazillion sequels, Michael stalks Laurie far beyond most slasher movie killers, who turn up a few minutes before the kill for a bit of peering from behind trees n’ stuff. The first time I watched Halloween, probably close to twenty-five years ago, Michael appearing outside school, behind the hedge, amongst the laundry, was far scarier than a masked maniac manifesting out of the blue with an axe. In that scenario, the threat is sudden and obvious. Somebody watching from out of reach, turning up wherever you go, is fucking creepy.

halloween 1978 michael myers car staking

…outside school

halloween 1978 michael myers behind hedge

…in your street

halloween 1978 michael myers stalking laundry

…in your neighbour’s laundry!

Not so far removed from the recent trend of people in clown masks just trying to freak folks out during October. Maybe that’s what Laurie thought it was? Course, there were no slasher films around to teach her otherwise!

Unlike the genre it ushered in, Halloween takes its sweet time before killing anybody new once Michael reaches his home turf, but is never boring. Carpenter sustains the tension of his presence throughout the scenes, bolstered by our genuine fear for Laurie, as the girl it’s impossible to dislike. I defy anybody to come up with a genuine reason to hate her.

halloween 1978 laurie strode jamie lee curtis

One of the many academic studies I’ve read on the film goes on about how her friends Annie and Lynda are devalued in opposition to Laurie. True, it’s big-picture difficult to imagine the three of them being friends, and Rob Zombie’s horrendous remake of these moments only showed how far we’ve moved on from nice people up for the slaughter towards wanting the cast to bite it.

halloween 1978 annie nancy loomis

There are still plenty of sweet moments between the girls, reminding us that horror (and in particular slasher) movies give actresses much more to do than play the supporting wife, mother, femme fatale. Laurie’s need for her friends is nicely realised, even if they mock her. Listen when Annie tells her she’s losing it, to which Laurie replies “I already lost it,” and Annie quips: “Doubt that.”

halloween 1978 dr loomis and sheriff brackett

What also defines Halloween in its status as the most important teen horror film that ever was is that while a new audience would laugh and point at all the cliches on show, they simply didn’t exist in 1978. Hell, didn’t exist until June of that year.

A girl I went to college with once wrote it off as crap because: “I knew he would sit up behind her!” Of course you knew, because Halloween was so good at everything it did that ten thousand filmmakers copied it.

halloween 1978

In the wake of scores of bodies we’ve seen drop from trees and fall out of closets, the funhouse moment of Laurie discovering her dead friends does seem contrived and a little comical (Lynda’s face-of-death), but it’s just one of countless genre boxes Halloween ticked long before everyone else did it.

halloween 1978 lynda closet dead

Hey Lynda…

 

halloween 1978 lynda dead closet

Lynda!

halloween 1978 lynda dead closet

LYNDAAAA!!!!

What else can be said? While I’ve always been more of a Friday the 13th guy (the early ones, that is) and placed Halloween third in my countdown of The 100 Greatest Slasher Films, only a fool would try and deny in terms of importance and influence that it’s the best slasher movie, and probably teen-horror film of all time.

Blurbs-of-interest: Pleasence returned in parts 245, and 6, plus Alone in the Dark and Phenomena; Curtis came back for II, H20 and Resurrection, and was also the final girl in Terror Train and Prom Night and was the only good thing in Ryan Murphy’s dreadful Scream QueensP.J. Soles took on heroine duties for Innocent Prey and was also in 90s comic slasher Uncle Sam and then the crazy doom monger lady in The Tooth Fairy; Charles Cyphers returned for the sequel.

Here are some more awesome stills:

halloween 1978 wallace house

This shot is ever so creepy. Do you reckon the Wallaces ever moved back in?

halloween 1978 michael dressed as ghost

Michael certainly had a sense of humour.

halloween 1978 annie dead bed gravestone

halloween 1978 closet scene

The old trapped-in-the-closet-while-the-killer-breaks-in routine.

halloween 1978 dr loomis donald pleasence

Series mainstay and, dare I say it, true star: Donald Pleasence as Dr Loomis.

“That was the boogeyman,” a tearful Laurie says.

“Yes, as a matter of fact it was.”

Perfect.

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