Evil in the flesh
Halloween was the first movie to reach out of the screen and strike me cold. I was a little kid. No way I could see it in a theater. The screen I saw it on was a 20-inch Zenith TV. The Dunstan family Zenith was the same electric window into “Diff’rent Strokes” and “M*A*S*H.” Yet Halloween had power to break free from the confines of the boob tube and unleash genuine fright.
That film changed my nightmares. In those dreams, no matter how fast I ran, or how high I jumped…the Shape was always right behind…the Shape would always grab my heels just as I sprang away and pull me back towards a gleaming, fat blade.
John Carpenter’s vision of evil became the flesh waiting in every shadow. Death was complacent. The kill would hurt. It was inevitable. What fantastic terror. That fear left a residue within.
It set the damn bar for terror and it would visit my life again and again.
The University of Iowa had a pristine 35mm print of Halloween that would roll just about every October while I was in college. A new batch of strangers gathered every fall to scream in horror and laugh away the jitters just before the next jolt came. The students walked home over the snapping leaves, under the waving, naked branches that poked from wonderful blankets of darkness where evil could take a good look at ’em and make sure they were nice and vulnerable.
The film is a reminder that suspense will always trump gore and that a single well-placed shot can do more than a hundred “cool” edits.
W.C. Fields said: “Twas a woman who drove me to drink and I never had the courtesy to thank her…”
In a kinda-similar fashion, I never knew I loved being horribly scared until I saw Halloween. I’ve been grateful ever since. Thanks a million, Mr. Carpenter.
Marcus Dunstan lept onto the Hollywood horror scene with writing partner Patrick Melton with Dimension Films’ Feast. They’re currently at work on a remake of The Tingler and together they penned Lionsgate’s Saw IV.
Source: Marcus Dunstan