Being an only child for nearly the first 10 years of my life, I had to learn how to entertain myself. On top of that I was eccentric – I was quiet, pensive, and interested in music and films that kids my age were not really that into. It was not until my middle school years that I found a handful of friends who were more like me.
When I was in the seventh grade, I saw John Carpenter’s 1978 film HALLOWEEN for the first time. It was a cool October night and I was hanging out at my best friend’s house as we planned out what we were going to do to celebrate the holiday at the end of the month. To get into the spirit, she decided that it was the perfect time to introduce me to the small town of Haddonfield and the legend of Michael Myers.
I figured it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. I mean, I wasn’t new to the horror genre; I grew up watching the horror-fantasy show ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK? on Nickelodeon. But this – this was different. Not only was I getting a glimpse into what teenagers were like in the 1970s, but it was gritty and gory. Little did I know, I was watching a “slasher” classic.
The sound effects and music were the first things that struck a chord with me, causing me to hide my feet and pull the blanket I was grasping tighter to my chin. The fast tapping of the piano accompanied by a sound much like a ticking clock during the main theme, the hard thump of the a single dark piano note during the chase scenes, as well as the recurrent twinkling synthesizer tremolo interrupted by sudden bass-y buzzes during the jump scares were incredibly effective at keeping me in a constant state of suspense.
As a 13-year- old kid, the idea of some large crazy guy in a jumpsuit and a creepy mask coming after me and all of my friends while I’m just trying to do my job as a babysitter was already terrifying. However, a deeper horror sets in when the element of immortality is added – the concept that the nightmare will never really be over because “it” will always be out there, lurking in the shadows, waiting for the perfect moment to strike when you least expect it.
To this day HALLOWEEN still has the power to rattle me. Now that I’m a film student, I notice more about the film, such as the fantastic manipulation through depth of field (a blurry Myers springing back to life in the background while Laurie is sharply focused in the foreground) and the choice of filming some of the scenes from Michael Myers’s point-of- view (the clown costume mask). What I have always appreciated the most about Halloween was the decision to make Michael Myers complex by minimizing. He never speaks. If he is amused, he will tilt his head slightly. He’s stealthy. And he could be anywhere. It was through viewing HALLOWEEN that I learned to always lock my doors and windows, never drop the knife, the smart girl has the best chance of being the final girl, and you can never truly kill the boogeyman.