What can I say about John Carpenter? He’s a captivating master of suspense, innovative musician and brilliant film maker with ideas FAR ahead of his time. In a word he was a marvel.
What made him so great though? Why do I feel that he is one of the greatest and most original, important and revolutionary film makers of all time? Read on dear reader and let me enlighten you.
Ah the 1970’s what a great time for cinema from edgy character pieces like Taxi Driver, Five Easy Pieces and more to grind house pictures like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Dawn of the Dead and others it was clear that cinema and it’s audience was changing and in 1978 a young film maker from New York would make a film that would slice through the conventions of Hollywood, pop culture and the world would never be the same.
That film was Halloween a movie that wasn’t the first slasher movie but it sure as hell popularized it. John Carpenter came from a generation of film makers nicknamed “The Movie Brats”. They were a bunch of film makers in the 1970’s who worked outside of the studio system members of “The Movie Brats” included directors like Martin Scorsese, Tobe Hooper, Dennis Hopper, Francis Ford Copola and MANY others. This worked to Halloween’s advantage because the 1970’s was a decade that really seemed to want to make a name for it’s self with it’s ballsier film releases and no truer is that prevalent then in Halloween Carpenter’s masterpiece about a young man who killed his sister on Halloween in 1963, fifteen years later he’s back and god help whoever is in his way.
Halloween as I have previously stated is a masterpiece and is essential viewing for anyone at all interested in film making. From it’s captivating performances by Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode a girl tormented by Michael Meyers, Donald Plesance as Dr. Samuel Loomis Michael Meyers’ therapist and the largely under rated Nick Castle as Michael Meyers/The Shape it’s self.
I feel that Halloween is a masterpiece because of it’s ability to sustain an audience’s attention with it’s brilliant simplicity. If I pitched the movie to you saying “hey do you want to watch a movie about a crazy guy who stalks and kills off babysitters”? You’d probably think that it’s the most generic kind of horror schlock ever even in the 1970’s and “you go to hell for suggesting that Gaines”. But I feel that’s the great thing about Halloween that within that level of simplicity it is a story that has been done to death but I think that Carpenter turns something simple into exceptional because you never get to know who Michael Meyers/The Shape is you don’t even know if they’re human.
That’s what I feel is terrifying it’s like a ghost or demon in human form representing the evil of mankind or the unknown just at the edge of our pleasant seemingly little suburban heaven. He turns the ordinary and mundane into the mundane and knows EXACTLY how to shoot that and edit that to build the perfect amount of suspense like a concerto of carnage and murder and thrills. Speaking of concertos (SEGWAY AHOY!) another thing that makes this film exceptional is like the film it’s self the score to it especially it’s theme song is simple but terrifyingly powerful I mean you can’t tell me that while it MAY not give you the chills you can associate it with a creepy movie just from the first few chords.
IT’S JUST A PIANO but it’s SO captivating, terrifying and seemingly suffocating with emotion and simplicity simultaneously. However I feel that that’s enough for now. Tune in later this week for part two of this editorial series with aliens, Satan and Kurt Russell oh my!