Been & Going

[Why Watch This- Retro Movie Reviews] Halloween I&II

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sitting upWhy won’t she just leave the house? I mean come on, a crazy masked killer with a knife just attacked her, she stabs him with a wire hanger, and she then just sits there crying. GET UP!! OH MY GOD HE’S STILL ALIVE!! HE’S SITTING UP! WHY WON’T SHE JUST LEAVE THE HOUSE??!!! Thank you, John Carpenter, for making Halloween in 1978 and creating the genre of film where unstoppable men stab pretty teenage girls with really big knives. And thank you, Jamie Lee Curtis, for being the original scream queen who makes ALL the wrong decisions yet somehow survives being stalked and almost stabbed by an unstoppable man. (Well, as Scream taught us years later, she survives ‘cause she’s a virgin. But shhh, don’t tell anyone, we aren’t supposed to know that yet.)halloween-1978-young-michael-myers1

And then they did it again for Halloween II, only this time Jamie is wearing the most wonderful wig because even though real world time has advanced 3 years and a haircut, movie time picks up right where the first one left off.

In the multi-layer cinema universe that is the Halloween movie franchise, you really only need to concern yourself with I and II. Sorry Rob Zombie, but honestly why screw with perfection? Halloween  starts in Haddonfield, Illinois, it’s Halloween night fifteen years ago, the song “Mr. Sandman” is playing and a young boy dressed in a cute clown costume stabs his naked sister to death because she just had sex with some guy.Halloween_1978_girls

Move forward fifteen years and there is unrest at the mental institution. It seems Michael Meyers, the little boy from above, is all grown up and he just escaped. His doctor, played with gleeful over-the-topness by Donald Pleasance, is quite distraught. Dr. Crazy Eyes had told them to keep Mr. Meyers under tighter security, he had told them not to be fooled by Michael’s catatonic state. He’s evil you see, EEEVVVIIILLLLLLLL. And now he’s loose. God help us all.halloween-donald-pleasance12-610x260

Next we meet Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) a goody two shoes if ever there was one. She is the local babysitter and has the worse friends. I mean really, they are pretty bad, but it’s ok they’re about to die horribly. It’s Halloween night and Laurie is babysitting. What a loser! I mean, her friend Annie is also babysitting but at least Annie’s boyfriend is coming over so they can have sex. That’s why you babysat in the ‘70s. Sex. A lot of sex.

pj solesAnyway, Annie sends the kid she’s watching over to Laurie’s house so their other friend Lynda (played by P.J. Soles, who seemed to show her boobs in a lot of movies in the ‘70s) can come over with her boyfriend. Lots of suspenseful murder ensues. Laurie eventually goes across the street, discovers the bodies of her friends, screams a lot, gets attacked by Michael, runs back to her house, saves the kids, stabs Michael in the eye and then—DOES NOT LEAVE THE HOUSE. WHY? Does she know that her intact hymen will save her?

Luckily Dr. Crazy Eyes shows up in time to shoot Mr. Meyers several times. But wait—oh no! When he goes to look at the body, he’s gone! “It was the boogieman,” Laurie says to Dr. Crazy Eyes. “Yes, I believe he was.”

Kick in Halloween II which begins with the last few minutes of Halloween. Laurie is taken to the hospital, the eeriest emptiest halloween2hospital in all of Illinois. There are no patients in this hospital, only horny nurses and hornier EMTs, and one drunk doctor who doesn’t last long. You see, as soon as Michael hears on a radio from a passing car that Laurie has been taken to the hospital, he goes up there.

And since some years have passed and this is a sequel, there’s a little more nudity, and a lot more, let’s call them “weird” deaths. No more boring “stabbing” with a big ol’ “knife.” Oh no! Michael gets creative with the implements he has at his disposal in a hospital.

Halloween 2 1981 HospitalDr. Crazy Eyes, still looking for Michael in town, learns that Laurie is actually Michael’s sister. She was a baby when he had killed his other sister, and had been put up for adoption. Oh no! He then realizes that he will be going after her, because Michael has this serious problem with his sisters. He rushes up to the hospital in time to save Laurie again, and hopefully, maybe kill Michael and himself in an explosion. (but of course we learn in later sequels that neither perished in the fire, spoiler alert).

Halloween was made for $325,000 and grossed over $70 million worldwide, making it one of the most successful independent movies ever made. Wow. And it was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress because of its cultural significance. Yes, slasher films are culturally significant according to the Library of Congress. Carpenter wrote, directed and scored the film. He cast Jamie Lee Curtis, a relatively unknown actress at the time, in what can only be a wink to Psycho, the slasher film that started it all and starred Curtis’ mother, Janet Leigh.

I have to watch Halloween I and II every year on Halloween. I just do. There is something about them. Maybe it’s the music, a simple two note yet incredibly stressful theme that plays through most of the movie. Maybe it’s because they are so familiar to me now. Who knows? But I think, and not just because I’m old, that there is something great in their simplicity. There are no special effects, no gross-out porn or any limbs being severed. It’s just an innocent girl running from unstoppable evil. What’s scarier than that? Nothing.