Halloween

Halloween ★★★★★

Me, My Mates and The Final Girl - A Slasher Project #4

Let me preface these reflections by saying that nothing resembling an objective evaluation of this film can be found in the words that follow. Not that it usually bothers me but in the case of Halloween, even if I tried to remove my subjective love for the film by stabbing it through the abdomen and pinning it to the kitchen wall, it would still persist. Even if I attempted to punch out hard truths about this film in the most brutally no-nonsense sans-serif font I could find, the spectre of rosy-coloured nostalgia would still inhabit the shadows of even that font's most severerest angles, illuminating everything with the bubblegum light of a lava lamp in a teenager's bedroom.

It gets so bad that I could wax lyrical for hours about a single scene for very little reason at all. For example, there is a short scene containing a conversation between Ms Scream Queen USA, Jamie Lee Curtis, and her girlfriend as they drive home trough suburban streets in a big boxy vehicle from the 70s. As they talk about clothes and boys, the scene also serves as a transition from day to the night.

As the editing pieces the conversation together using a typical sequence of shot/reverse shots, the sun glares through the windscreen in arcs of sunset flares as it reaches that time of day where it's descent starts to play a game of hide and seek with the edges of the man made world and through the leafy camouflage of the canopy of trees resulting in a golden penumbra of great beauty.

The way that Carpenter captures the intensity and romance of this suburban twilight on screen as it refracts through the vehicles windscreen, backlighting the characters and at times almost making you need to squint as though you were really there, transports me back to my teenage years like no other film.

Suddenly, I could recall with great clarity those long hot summer weekends in the late 90s when I would collect up all my friends in my Holden HQ (a car very much from the 70s) and drive back to my place as the sun went down to watch horror movies until the red light of dawn as we sprawled out on bean bags in my bedroom.

We might not have been a gaggle of horny teenage girls but this one scene shook my hand and said, "G'Day, my name is Halloween. I was made a couple of years before you were born but I think you will see we have a lot in common. There is an essence of the suburban teenage experience that is timeless and I think you will recognise it immediately".

Speaking of which, Laurie Strode is my spirit animal. Like a raccoon forced to rummage through everyone else's garbage while looking for her own scraps of identity, Laurie is an uncool nerd surrounded by dumb-ass bimbos. All the while she tries to maintain her wit and intelligence in the face of faceless adolescent hormones.

Looking back on this film now, it really is quite remarkable how clearly the take home message of the movie is that if you are a slutty idiot then you are going to be stabbed to death, whereas virtuous smart chicks that do all their home work have the strength and the smarts will survive. The moral of the story being, smart moral virgin = good and dumb, immoral slut = bad.

But when I was a teenager I saw this a little differently. It wasnt so much for me about punishing naughty girl, rather it was a reimagining of the nerd as hero. Afterall, Laurie and I didnt want to be good. We didn't really care about Jane Austen, Pythagoras and Albert Einstein. We just wanted to Bang, Bang, Bang! It wasn't John Donne's metaphysical poetry that kept us up late at night in a cold sweat, let me set you straight on that right now.

No, we wanted to be dumb sluts. We wanted to be cool and desired. I would have given up my whole kingdom for one lousy lay. But we didn't know how. It is in that scene in the car that I mentioned above where we see this in Laurie when she tentatively confesses that she is interested in a boy and that she does need some help to dress and make herself up just like all the other girls.

She was a nerd like me, smart enough to know that everyone around her was stupid, but dumb enough to wish that she could be just like them. So maybe I was being a little disingenuous above. Perhaps there is a an angle to it where this could seen as Laurie's wish fulfillment fantasy as the cool kids that she fails to emulate and that taunt her mercilessly get their just desserts.

And of course then there is Michael Myers. The way Carpenter keeps you scanning every inch of the screen just in case he steps out behind a hedge, raises his head above the fender of a parked car or materializes out of the darkness of a closet keeps you on your toes. Put aside all of the nostalgia and Michael Myers is scary as fuck and the film looks great.

An ansolute classic horror film! Totally!

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