Monday, October 31, 2005

31 Days of Des' Horror Favourites: #1 Halloween

Why I like it: Whew...finally all done. It's been a long month of fun and more hard blog-work than I ever expected but it was a blast! As I get ready for November Novel Month (no, I'm not going to count down my favourite novels I'm getting into high writing gear) I give you the much anticipated #1: Halloween.

John Carpenter skillfully directed a script written by Debra Hill and himself into, what I obviously consider, a perfect masterpiece.

From the very moment the Halloween theme kicks in with its eerie minor fifths and its 5-4 time (the timing of a quickened heartbeat) you are instantly drawn in. The pumpkin close-up that splits open to reveal a skull is one of my favourite opening sequences.

Very quickly the scene is set with a young Michael Myers who unexplainably loses it and repeatedly stabs his sister to death on Halloween. It is something that always sort of fascinates me when his parents return home to find him standing in the front yard with a bloodied knife before they know full well what has occurred. What is truly fascinating with this scene is the killer's eye-view camera shot done throughout (utilised wonderfully in this film and again in its sequel).

Tragic backstory involving a young man with issues with women: check!

Enter Dr. Sam Loomis (played by Donald Pleasence, incidentally, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing both said no) who has tried to cure/get inside Michael's mind. 15 years later he has uncvered nothing except the fact that the boy is the embodiment of evil. The scene with him and the nurse in the car at the gates of the asylum has always freaked me out. All those mental patients outside in the dark, rainy night and at least one of them is totally homicidal. Michael steals the car and drives (which is what he likes to do most besides killing people, right Stacie?) back to Haddonfield, Illinois. October 31st, 1978: the night HE came home.

Premise set up including lots of mystery: check!

Back in Haddonfield, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis in her first movie role) is a high school student who goes about her daily business. We discover that she's rather normal and that she has to babysit on Halloween. She is being stalked by someone in a white Captain Kirk mask driving a station wagon. When she sees him standing across the street its absolutely invigorating.

Initial scares as well as some interesting casting choices (Jamie Lee Curtis was unknown other than the fact that her father was Tony Curtis and her mother, Janet Leigh of Psycho fame): check!

What follows is a slew of scenes involving Laurie and her friends walking home, making plans for the evening and doing chores. Myers passes them in his car and when one of them shouts at him he stops the car in a very tense few seconds. What comes next is my favourite cinematic scare of all time. When Myers steps out from behind the hedge to look directly at Laurie and her friends. Of course Laurie is the only one who sees him and when the shouting friend investigates he is gone. Christ! That scared the shit out of me when I was a kid and still does.

Laurie gets a similar scare when she looks out the window and sees Mr. Myers once again. And the film moves at a rather quick pace from this point: when Michael begins to kill.

Carpenter creates terrifying scenes (getting in the car and noticing the steam on the windshield) with such proficiency that many of them are still emulated (most notably pictured at the top when Laurie believes Michael dead and he slowly sits up). Emulated poorly but emulated nonetheless.

It's cold, dark and morbidly engrossing. This is the only film that really terrified me as a child. The confident and non-chalant way in which Myers walks towards his prey is chilling. The white mask is infinitely more terrifying than Jason's hockey mask. It walks out of the darkness much better than any other monstrous image.

The grim ending is signature Carpenter and set the high watermark for horror films as well as created the sub-genre of the slasher film (for good or bad and with apologies to Psycho).

Some great usage of the horror geography thing I won't shut up about this month. Haddonfield is set up as the perfect upper middle class town. It looks normal. The houses are nice, the lawns are cut and the teenagers are horny and mischievous. The geography is taken farther with the scene in the car, the walk home from school, the closet scene and-most effectively-when we see Myers crossing the street behind Laurie as she bangs on the doors of houses. The killer and victim in the same shot getting closer and closer is a beautiful scare tactic.

What puts this in the number one spot, besides all of what I mentioned above, is the fact that it remains current although it was filmed in 1978. The teenagers seem real even today and, barring a few haircuts and dubious fashion choices, could double as a modern set.

I have seen this film over forty times at current count and am watching it again this evening.

Thanks for coming and Happy Halloween!

Check these out:
-John Carpenter's entire filmography-They are all worth the watch. The Thing comes more highly recommened than any other but Pleasence is back in Prince of Darkness.
-Halloween II-The almost brilliant sequel starts 2 minutes before the end of the first film. The way it ought to be. While it goes too far to explain Myers and stretches things for story purposes (the whole sister thing) it still has sme wicked scares. Most notably when Myers steps out of the darkness to administer a hypodermic needle into a nurse's eye socket and injecting air. The scene with him walking through the glass door is a doozy as well. Incidentally, the "Samhain" message written on the chalkboard said more to me that he was Irish than Satanic, Stacie ;) Or maybe he's just a Danzig fan.
-Halloween III: Season of the Witch-The departure film that was originally intended to be the first in a series of anthology-type films switching directors and stories as it goes along ended up being the only one of its kind as foolish fans wanted more and more Myers.
-Other Halloween films-Pap.
-Every other slasher flick since 1978-Influenced solely by Halloween.

4 Bitching, Moaning and Praise

Blogger Stacie Ponder said...

You know, this would probably be my #1 as well. You're right about the timelessness of it- it just doesn't get any less effective with age. It's really the perfect horror film.

You've got the image of my favorite scare up at the top...when he sits up and turns to look a Laurie so fluidly and deliberately- gah! Terrifying.

Well done! What a month!

12:16 am  
Blogger Stacie Ponder said...

And yes- our Michael does love a good drive, doesn't he? :D

12:17 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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5:31 am  
Blogger hypnosis said...

Visualization is a tool that has been used for thousands of years by initiates of all the metaphysical schools. Today, it is incorporated into top athlete's daily routines and is used in business affairs frequently. It's use is wide-spread among highly successful people, either consciously or unconsciously, aware of its create power. So if it has stood the test of time and is still being used by high achievers we must come to the conclusion that it works! But has it ever worked for you?

If you answered 'yes' to the above question then you know how powerful this technique can be. If, on the other hand, you gave the more likely answer 'no' then take heart for I am about to reveal to you a sure fire way of reaching your objectives through this mostly misunderstood art.

The trouble with visualization is simple - its in its name!

When studying and contemplating the art of visualization most people have the impression that they must create visual images and make them real or life-like. Many people, in fact the majority, find this almost impossible to do. Even if they can formulate a solid picture of their objective they find it extremely difficult to sustain the image for any length of time. Either the image fades, changes or other intruding thoughts intervene.

This type of visualization is almost impossible to sustain and luckily it is not at all necessary. Why? Because it is in the subconscious mind that your visualization needs to be placed and there is good news. The subconscious mind does not know the difference between an imaginary event and a real one. Your visual image only needs to be a strong visually as any other imagined event. However, that is only half the story.

If all you had to do was just imagine stuff and your world automatically changed to reflect your imaginings this world would be full of chaos (not to mention all those creepy crawly bug-eyed monsters!). Therefore, there are a few more steps to complete before the visualization is passed to the subconscious for manifestation.

Let's try a little experiment. Remember a scene from your past that has a lot of good feelings around it. Any good memory will do, like the first time you heard the words "I love you" from your partner, an amazingly spectacular sunset, a great holiday event or your last birthday. Pick one and remember it. How clear is the image? Can you remember any sounds? What way did you feel? Is there any sense of touch, taste or smell? Identify how your memory works. Is it mostly visual, auditory, kinaesthetic or of a feeling nature?

Now we are going to create an imagined event in our lives that has the same strength and potency as that image. So relax and let's go.

Imagine something that you do everyday, something that you did yesterday, today and will do tomorrow. Let us take the example of waking up tomorrow morning. Don't try to add or take anything away, just think about it and analyse the scene. Is it dark or light? Are you lying next to someone in bed? Do you still feel tired? Has the alarm clock sounded? Are you irritable that you have to get up or full of joy at the dawn of a new day?

You will find that the imagined event is very similar to the memory with probably one key difference - your point of perspective. Is the memory behind you and the future event in front of you? Is one to the left and one to the right? Maybe they are both in front of you or the future seems to move in a clockwise direction. Whatever the perspective the thing to notice is that they are very similar in appearance.

Now imagine doing your future event a week from now, then a month from now, then six months from now. Where are those images placed? Are they moving further away, going clockwise, from left to right? This is your time-line and using it is important in visualization as you will see later.

Ok, let's imagine something that is very unlikely to happen and see where it differs from the last image.

Imagine you are sitting somewhere familiar which is extremely comfortable and relaxing to you. Now imagine that a person you know well comes up to where you are and says "hello". Imagine them telling you that they want to show you a new trick. All of a sudden they have three juggling balls. They throw them in the air and begin to juggle with ease. Then they begin to whistle one of your favourite tunes. You suddenly realize that there is a strong smell of flowers in the room and notice a vase of them just behind the juggler. Imagine laughing loudly at the scene and feeling joyful at the experience. Then the person juggling leans forward stands on leg and puts the other leg outstretched behind them. All the while still juggling and whistling. Then they begin to hop on their leg as a small bird flies over to perch on their head. Once you have the imagined event and stayed with it a few moments just let it fade.

Ok open your eyes. What was the difference between the two images? Can you spot any? Did you use more, less or roughly the same senses in your fantasy event as you did in the future one? Did you see them from different angles? Was the picture bigger in one than the other? Was the sound clearer, the feelings more acute or the smell stronger? Take some time and go back to each scene in your mind. How does the future event differ from the fantasy one? Are you looking at both from a different vantage point? Do you see yourself in the image of one but not the other? Analyse the scenes and see where they differ.

Have you identified how the future event differs from the fantasy one? If you have then its time to make visualization work for you! Take a goal that you have been working on or would like to achieve. Nothing too far-fetched at this point please! Pick something that is possible but at the moment seems a little impractical. Once you have it form a mental image of what it would be like to have, be or do that thing or be in that experience. Remember to form it the same way you do a memory. Give it the same strength visually, in sound, feeling, taste and touch - use your mind in its natural state. All you have to do is imagine the scene.

Ok how does it differ from the scene of waking in the morning? Can you identify the differences in perspective, sound, taste, touch, feelings and what you hear?

Now there will be one other key thing that differs in the images- it is very simple but often overlooked. You know that the future event is going to happen! This is reflected in the way we experience the image. So what we are going to do is fool your subconscious mind into thinking your goal is definitely going to happen by manipulating your goal image!

Once you know what the differences are in each image begin to change the goal image so that it is seen the same way as the future event in your imagination. Place the visualized scene in exactly the same position with the same perspective as your future event.

Place it in the correct position on your time-line. You may already begin to feel that the goal is more possible. Visualise in this way everyday and you will condition your subconscious mind to manifest the experiences necessary to make your goal attainment certain.

One more thing to remember: During the day think about your goal often. This reinforces the visualization and will begin to dispel doubt from your mind. personal development

8:06 pm  

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