Horror Franchise Sequentialthon: Film #1

A few months back, my cousin and I devised a potential horror marathon of franchise films where each film had to correspond to its numerical placement in the lineup. Dubbed "Sequentialthon," we managed to slot this in (amongst three other forthcoming all day marathons) this past weekend, and the original Halloween was a no-brainer for film #1.

I'm not sure what it is with Halloween but I've found myself having such a peculiar reaction to it in recent years. Despite the fact that John Carpenter is most likely my favorite director and this was once at the top of my ranking of his films, I very much doubt it would be anymore, despite the fact that I can't really find much fault in it. (I feel Big Trouble in Little China, Assault on Precinct 13 and The Thing are all jockeying for my #1 position these days.) To that end, in the couple of times I've put it on in the past few years, I find my attention kind of wanes at some point. I often wonder if it's just a case of oversaturation or burnout, much like the catalogs of my favorite musical artists: the big, popular entry is usually solid and entertaining enough, but I'm rarely in the mood to hear it. In the case of Halloween, it could also be that the film franchise is still a going concern, and one in which I have very little interest.

Halloween certainly has a ton going for it: incredible mood, Dean Cundey cinematography (mostly via Pasadena locations which I have visited), minimalism, an awesome soundtrack, courtesy of Carpenter, and a ramshackle, guerrilla kind of feel. I've said before that Carpenter is so great that he can make even mundane locations and situations feel like magic. And yet, despite all of this, every time I put this film on now, it ends up feeling like a rote activity for me, and I inevitably end up not even sure how to rate it.

Certainly a lot here has been ripped off -- or "homaged" -- so many times by this point that, in retrospect, it unfairly looks like a film full of clichés when it isn't. But, to that end, it must be said that a lot of what's on display here was done four years earlier by Bob Clark in his sensational Black Christmas (which Carpenter even cited as an influence), and I find myself more drawn to Clark's film these days than this one. The Italian giallo films pioneered some of these concepts as well, and I've been having a bit of a love affair with those for some time. Heck, even Halloween III, one of the only sequels in this franchise that I actually like, has become more of a go-to film for me than this one.

At one point, Halloween was one of my top five or ten favorite horror films, but I doubt I can say that anymore. Maybe someday I will get there with it again, but at the moment I've just got some block that won't let me connect with it in the way I once did.

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