By Daniel Janero
SC Staff Writer
When was the last time you were scared by a movie?
This is what advertisements said when John Carpenter’s Halloween was released to theaters in the fall of 1978, and late this October, movie-goers will have another chance to answer that question again.
For the first time in 34 years, the horror classic will be slashing its way into theaters across the country. Halloween has enjoyed small showings in community theaters throughout the years, but this is the first widespread release for the film since its initial release in late 1978 and 1979.
Produced on a meager budget of $320,000 and filmed in just under four weeks, Halloween has gone on to gross over $70 million worldwide, making it one of the most profitable independent movies of all time. While Halloween has spawned seven sequels, two remakes and numerous knockoffs trying to match its success, no film could equal the impact its predecessor has had on the horror movie genre.
Halloween tells the story of six-year old child Michael Myers who murders his sister on Halloween night in 1963. While confined to a psychiatric ward for the remainder of his life, Michael escapes fifteen years later and returns to his fictional hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois, with a knife and mask, to enact revenge on unsuspecting teenagers.
Sounds like every gory teen slasher film you may have seen before, right? Well, not exactly.
Before Halloween was produced, horror movies consisted of the Universal Pictures’ monster movies and Hammer’s gothic horror stories of the 1930’s and 1940’s. It wasn’t until the release of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho in 1960 and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 1974 (another profitable low-budget film) that the creation of what audiences today consider modern horror films was spawned, which in turn has been distorted by the graphic violence of films like Saw and Hostel.
Influenced by Hitchcock himself, Carpenter relies heavily on suspense and tension over the aforementioned gory special effects for scares throughout his film.
The 1970’s ushered in a new batch of filmmakers, directors who wielded a degree in filmmaking. With Halloween, Carpenter brought a polish that only film school could provide, focusing his efforts on lighting, camera shots (point of view shots are used to force the audience to identify with the killer), composition within the screen image—brilliantly executed in Halloween—and, most importantly, music.
During a test showing of Halloween to critics, a rough cut was presented without the music. After the film had ended, one reviewer said the movie was not scary and that filmmakers had failed to achieve their objective. If you talk to audiences who heard those famous spine-tingling notes over the image of a jack-o-lantern title credits, I’m sure they’ll tell you of a different experience.
Halloween terrified audiences over 30 years ago. Now audiences today will get their chance.
Presented by Screenvision, Halloween will be shown from October 25th to 31st in select theaters across the country.
Featuring a new high definition transfer from original negatives, this is the best that Halloween has ever looked. Also attached to the feature presentation is a documentary specially produced for this event called, You Can’t Kill the Boogeyman: 35 Years of “Halloween.”
Carmike Cinemas’ Allentown 16 at 1700 Catasauqua Road in Allentown, PA is the closet theater showing the film. Selected dates for showing are Oct. 25 and 30. Show times and ticket sales are not available, but check Carmike Cinemas’ website for any changes in the schedule.
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