waiting for some secret
So then there's little ol' me. I'm two, I'm three, I'm four, I'm five. I'm all the ages since. And, honestly, I am still figuring out what the fuck all of the things around me are for, and I am blessed with the wonder that is cinema. Movies are just one of many stimuli that get injected into the mix. And, Halloween is just one of those movies. But, oh what a movie.
And what a great movie to see often growing up, watching the way it is put together, the way it is structured. There's not really any fluff. There's odd choices here and there--Annie could have just driven past rather than stop and talk to her father, for example, then there's no risk of getting caught with that joint. But then, does Brackett tell Loomis about the robbery details? And, do we know just how worried Laurie is at getting caught over this one transgression? Each detail serves the whole. And, some of the details are beautiful.
That high pitched music cue when the light goes out on the second floor and 6-year-old Michael knows he can head inside. Hell, consider this: Michael's costume is a clown costume, right? So, why does Danny have his mask? (Or is the mask just a symbolic gesture from either of them, like "Bob" under that sheet later. One man is another. With systemic harassment and sexual abuse in the news recently, I'm inclined to wonder.)
I imagine a guy near the camera making the thunder noises as Loomis and Marion approach the hospital. Or Pleasance's has some strange tics when he's acting. His repetition of "Never" is timed as if he thinks Marion didn't hear him, not as if he's emphasizing. Did they still do practical sound effects for thunder in 1978? Did they ever, for film? A guy with a sheet of tin or whatever it is, and he strikes it when they want the sound.
Little details like this have caught my eye these past few days. Also, I just realized that I mentioned that my sister and her first husband lived near the Myers House. I actually lived down the street Tommy comes running down to meet Laurie. Magnolia Street, South Pasadena. Lived there for a few months... The Myers House has since moved, though. That whole block of houses was torn down for some condos. The Myers House was deemed a historical landmark (I think for some other reason than (or additional reason to) it being in the first two Halloween films) and was preserved. But, they moved it. It's half a block down and across the street. And it's a doctor's office or a massage therapist's or something. It's much closer to the location that they used for the hardware store Michael robbed.
Totally complains about having to learn three new cheers in the morning, but the cheerleaders are practicing right then in the background. Perhaps, if she had stuck around to learn those cheers then, she might have survived past one film.
It's Laurie that swears. The clean cut one. But, she's the one who says "shit."
Also, Jamie Lee Curtis has some great reaction shots. When Annie says, "Oh great, I've got three choices, watch the kids sleep, listen to Lynda screw around, or talk to you" and it is dripping with sarcasm, Laurie has a dumb smile like all she heard was the "great." Later in the car, after Laurie has asked Annie, "What are you gonna wear to the dance tomorrow night?" Annie replies, "I didn't know you thought about things like that, Laurie." And, Laurie is silent, quiet, and so very sad. And, Carpenter lets the camera linger on just her, the sunlight in the background out the front windshield. It's nice.
Backtracking, Laurie has James Ensor's painting, Self Portrait with Flowered Hat, 1883, over her dresser, and a Raggedy Ann doll on that dresser next to what looks like a jewelry box. Compared to the set dressing in a teenager's bedroom in a film today, her room is practically Spartan. Today, there would be at least three different lamps, and several posters for bands only the coolest kids have even heard of yet.
"Coulda been a skunk" may be one of the best lines of this film. Up there with "It's tough growing up with a cynical father" or "He shouts, too."
So many of Carpenter's shots are amazing. He uses the foreground, sometimes with Michael in silhouette, sometimes without him at all. And, those shots when Michael isn't there. Like as the three girls walk after Michael has driven away, are especially nice because they invite us to look for Michael even when we know he cannot be there. And, in a way, they put us there with Michael--or taking his place--we're following Laurie, we're following her friends. We're standing around waiting for the kill.
Bob leaves the van door open.
You know what's great about Michael's bed sheet ruse? Michael Myers, supernatural killer, who bided his time for fifteen years in a mental hospital, sat down at some point to cut eyeholes in a sheet. Maybe humming to himself as he did it, I wish I had you all alone, just the two of us.
The streets of Haddonfield are always so empty. The film had a small budget so there are few extras, few cars, but it makes for a very quiet, very sad town. Given the slasher film trope to come of adults being ineffectual or absent, it's interesting here how few young people there are as well. How few trick or treaters. Like the town already has a curfew, when its boogeyman has only just come of age. It makes for a melancholy sort of place, and Laurie Strode, who boys think is too smart, fits right in.
Finally, Laurie not only opens the balcony door to mislead Michael, she ties the closet door shut. She reaches up for a hanger, rather than untangling one from those that have fallen onto the floor. She stabs Michael with his own knife when he drops it. Girl is smart. And, regardless of what I might have said before (or what Christensen (2011) says) while comparing her to Nancy in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Laurie’s a pretty good feminist model for the final girl.
Too bad she spends the second film so helpless.