Halloween

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Halloween is a classic slasher horror film that features a psychotic murderer who escaped from prison. I personally think that there is nothing special about the film. It may have the basic elements of a horror film such as the cinematography and the sound but as far as it goes, plot-wise it is similar to every other horror film.

The murderer comes into town, starts killing people. One by one they disappear until one of the main characters find a dead body. At the same time, the police start investigating. More blood and gore follow until the main character, be it male or female, finally goes to face off the murderer because he has to protect a himself or a loved one (this could any of the following: a love interest, a relative, or an object that the murderer is after). The police conveniently arrive after the main protagonist’s confrontation with the murderer to apprehend the perpetrator. The ending will supposedly give the audience comfort in the fact that the killer is dead but when the authorities start looking for the body of murderer it is nowhere to be found.

The film follows a long running cliché of a murderer who in his childhood experienced something extremely traumatic that his psychosis was affected. The murderer grows up in a mental ward and escapes, hungry for blood and chaos and starts preying on the weak. The setting ranges from isolated and rumoured to be haunted campsites to the more populated suburbs and usually the first of the victims are women and they are hunted one by one, until it escalates to groups of people. Also, for some reason, the authorities never find any leads in any of the crime scenes until it is already too late. Halloween is clearly inspired by another classic slasher horror film Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock. The only difference it has is that unlike all the other imitations of Psycho, Halloween actually has less blood and gore. The film makes use of the lights and shadows to establish an atmosphere, which compensates for the lack of blood. In some scenes, the shadowing and the lighting, together with the actions of the killer himself work hand in hand to set the atmosphere.

Over all, the film Halloween as a horror film does its job at giving the audience suspense and it is not advised to be seen by those who are weak at heart. Unfortunately with the cliché for slasher films having been established I do not see anything special in it. The play in lights and sound did provide an interesting aesthetic for me though.

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Too much

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Blood, knives, screaming, boobs, beer, sex, and murder were the main themes of this movie. All those words, if I were to categorize, sum up a very typical male horror movie. How can one go wrong with sex and murder to gather up the male audience? Halloween very much objectified and used the female species for its own pleasure. I indeed sound very feminist but it surely made me feel terrible as a woman. Not the same kind of horrible that Grace depicted rather it made me feel like a tool or pawn in someone’s chess game. It lowered my sense of womanhood, my independence and my strength. I honestly hated the movie not only because of how it portrayed women but more likely because of its plot. There seemed to be a cyclical pattern on the climax of every frightening or scary scene. The cycle would be usually begun with boobs, sex and beer. After those three have shown, here swoops in Michael ready for the kill. Somehow every time Michael begins to kill he immediately kills the male in the scene making the victim experience death quickly. Unlike the female counterparts, it seems that they make Michael play with them and make their pain last for as long as Michael can.

                This movie really focused on women enduring pain for long periods. It made it look like a kid playing with his food, throwing, stabbing, and moving it as he pleases. It was dreadful having to watch the movie and tolerate seeing these women suffer. It was also dreadful watching the same plot occur over and over again – boobs, beer, sex and blood. Watching the movie made me feel angry and annoyed. Angry because I really detested the roles of the women and annoyed because it felt like I wasted my time.  There was no real story or good character formation.  Overall the lesson, the plot, the characters, and themes were very disappointing. Though it may be all about boobs, sex, alcohol and blood there are some movie with those main themes but are able to make a good horror movie. For me Halloween was not one of those movies. I left the classroom wanting to remove all the negative energy from the movie. It could be just me feeling this way about Halloween. I do not entirely understand horror movies that fall under this category. These kinds of movies require a specific taste and it definitely is not mine.

Hallowhine

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There seems to be a trend in 80’s slasher movies about being warnings about the dangers of sexual activities, and John Carpenter’s Halloween is one of those. I thoroughly enjoyed Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, which depicted the raw and unnerving capabilities of families. Having watched the original Carpenter flick–and being genuinely scared by that one–I already had some hesitation before watching this remake, what with all the slew of the really bad horror remakes made during the last few years. For the first time, my prejudice didn’t prove me wrong.

I still don’t get the point of some remakes. Sure, you can update the story to recent times, and then what? Most of the time, these remakes don’t really add anything new to the table (we get gems like The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes). What made me love the original film is how subtle everything is, even the kills. You don’t see that much blood, and the focus is more on the emotions of the character, instead of the high-pitched sound that comes from the bowels of their mouths that makes even the most deaf of ears bleed. I appreciate Rob Zombie’s effort to provide a backstory for Michael Myers, but for me, it kind of takes the whole mystery to his character away. Now we know why he’s doing these things. He had a bad childhood, and so he started killing. Sure, it does make us feel empathy with the character, but it shifts the focus away from Laurie Strode’s life, and how she is affected by the deaths of her friends. 

What makes the original Michael so terrifying is the fact that we never truly know why stalks Laurie until near the end of the film, when the big reveal is, well, revealed. Also, I think that the whole point of why Michael hides behind a mask is because it’s supposed to convey how his emotions are never truly there. He never feels normal human feelings. He’s asocial, and that’s what adds to the horror of what happens in the movie. 

I get that Rob Zombie wanted to update the story, and even to amp it up, but for me, it doesn’t deliver so well. A rock metal score, even more gratuitous shots of breasts, more death scenes, and a bazillion gallons of blood don’t necessarily make for a good film. It feels like the film was trying to be offensive just for the sake of being offensive. I also felt like Zombie focused the character development aspect of his characters on those who were ill, like Michael and his family. However, when the story takes place years later, no sort of character development ever happens anymore. We are just presented a bunch of “normal” white–and whiny–people who get picked off one by one. That was a very weak spot of the film for me. Danielle Harris’ role in Hatchet proved to be more interesting than her character here (whose name I forgot because that’s how forgettable they were for me).

Overall, I think that Rob Zombie’s take on the slasher classic that is Halloween is anything but.

Halloween

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Halloween opens with all the necessary information you need to understand Michael Myer’s back-story: who he is, where he came from, and what he did. And it spends a good 30% of the film focusing on the transition of his cheerful young self into the chained and silent mass-murderer he becomes. One prominent and recurring icon throughout the entire film is Michael’s mask. From a young age, he already takes a liking to them. These masks seem to hold his secret identity and it gets worse as he gets older- creating hundreds of masks to hang around his room, no longer for the purpose of hiding his quirks, but to finally become his identity.1

The idea of the masks reminds me of a line I once heard from Never Been Kissed: “See, Shakespeare’s making the point here that when we’re disguised, we feel freer. We can do things we wouldn’t do in ordinary life.” 

            The masks held all of Michael’s power. They gave him the authority to feel that he could do things he wouldn’t normally do, such as kill animals, and eventually, people. Without the mask, he was simply Michael, but with it, he had become a killer. 

            In her article “Her body, himself” Barbara Creed states two interesting ideas. The first being “We are linked, in this way, with the killer in the early part of the film, usually before we have seen him directly and before we have come to know the Final Girl in any detail. Our closeness to him wanes as our closeness to the Final Girl waxes—a shift underwritten by story line as well as camera position. By the end, point of view is hers.”

            You can clearly see this in Halloween because halfway through, the film shifts as if it was created in two parts: “Before” and “After”. The “Before” being about Michael and the “After” shifting focus to Laurie- his baby sister who was salvaged from the ruins of Michael’s childhood, and has since then grown into a teenage girl completely oblivious to her origin.

            Secondly, “The gender of the Final Girl is likewise compromised from the outset by her masculine interests, her inevitable sexual reluctance, her apartness from other girls, sometimes her name.” Laurie seems to be the perfect example of these factors. From the first few moments she appeared, her boyish charm, virginity, aloofness, even her unisex name- “Laurie”, separated her from her friends.

            What bothers me about this is that sexuality is such a great determinant for a woman’s chances for survival in horror film. There’s always that one girl who is just a little bit more comfortable with her sexuality than others, and she usually ends up being murdered in the middle of intercourse or something equally degrading (which happened more than once in this film). Halloween was full to the brim of teenage sexuality and stupidity, and that’s probably why it didn’t work out so well for me.

 

Horror Film 10: Halloween of Doom

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The type of horror movie that seem closest to reality are the slasher films. No matter how absurd the stalking menace seems to be, the reality of death comes across in a a very familiar form. The deaths and kills are more of a criminal act than what we can say a ghost attack or a monster maul. We sense great fear from this horror genre because this stuff happens though not as exaggerated as the art form.

The thing is with the slasher films, they always victimize teens and more often than not they have the so called “final girl”. This started as a shy away from the classic horror movies where the victims would be the general public. In the modern era slasher films, the aim was to cater to the youth, the young, the teenagers. And so, the turn them into meat waiting to be butchered.

The 2007 film Halloween is a remake of a very famous slasher series wherein we have the iconic killer, Michael Myers. Not so different from your typical slasher film, but this time around a backstory for the villain gives light to the terrible deeds he would soon act upon. But it was awfully disturbing because the foundations of his killing spree started as a wee little lad. The opening scenarios stands as a justification for what would transpire for the remainder of the film, more slaughterfest.

One thing I found really noticable whenever Micahael executes people is that the women have a harder time before they take their final breath. They bleed, they crawl, they squirm and struggle harder than the men in the movie. The men get surprise euthanasias up and about but the women really suffer alot. It might be for the very purpose of effectively conveying the horror as the helplessness of women strikes a certain string in our nerves. Also it seems to exemplify the coldness and lack of emotions of the psychopath as the flooding emotions of the woman falls on the deaf ears of one giant killing machine.

Halloween is really a great film on its own. As a remake, it sticks to its roots, keeping the good parts and at the same time offers something new and interesting to the plot. Though I dislike graphic kill scenes, Halloween does it well with justification. With streams of blood, senseless violence and a screams of terror, this remake puts Michael Myers back in the limelight.

 

 

Halloween

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I never found slasher films as scary as any other type of horror, the hundreds of slashers I’ve watched trained me to half cover my eyes at the right moments, they’ve all become a little bit too predictable. But of course, I can’t say the same about the originals.

John Carpenter’s Halloween had me sleeping in between my parents for a week and apparently it was not just because I was around 7 when I saw it. Halloween is dubbed as the ultimate slasher film next to psycho, and I agree. Rob Zombie’s remake had the same effect on me as my 7 year old self.  The opening scenes alone were unsettling; the casting of the young Micheal Myers contributed much of the disturbing factor to the movie. He was described as cute in class, and I could not disagree more. That kid really did look like a psychopath, his acting was so believable,  I half believed that what I was watching was real life.

It was hard to say what I felt about Micheal’s character (other than the obvious fear of course). There were parts where I hoped for a little conscience in him and I was hopelessly rooting for him to snap out of his skilling spree  the whole time. But he was hardly human and there was nothing that could have helped him, his doctor was just wasting his time. I think many people would attribute Micheal’s instinct to kill to the horrible family background he had, but I think he was just made of pure evil, the family was just an addition. What made Micheal’s character so good was that even though we knew nothing could stop him from being a monster, some people (like me) still hoped he had a little good in him even if it was reserved for his little sister alone. 

Everyone was skeptical about a Halloween remake because nobody wants to tamper with the classics but Rob Zombie did a brilliant job. The film almost felt like the original with its almost sepia tone all throughout and it had this ‘old school’ feel without trying too hard.  

Stories about psychopaths are always scary because of their possibility to be true, somewhere out there, there is someone like Micheal and that’s what I was thinking the time, even to the point of feeling affected and sorry whenever someone would get killed.  Something one typically feels during a drama love story not a horror film.  

I say Rob Zombie’s Halloween is a good addition to the greats but I can’t say I enjoyed it, I was completely stressed the whole movie and I couldn’t wait for it to end.  I’ve never been as horrified as I was watching a horror film in a long time (Not the Deadgirl kind of horrified) and I guess it was a good thing.

Happy Halloween

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I have never seen Halloween before because I considered it to be in the same category as the Scream or the I Know What You Did film series. After watching these types of films, I have made it a point to never watch them again unless I need to because they are too repetitive and stereotypical without it intending to be, like The Cabin in the Woods. These types of movies were really popular in the late 90’s to the early 2000’s.

After looking up Halloween on the Internet, I found out that it was a reboot of some sorts of a franchise created back in 1978 which makes it parallel to the suspiciously similar Jason Voorhees film series that was created at almost the same time. It was probably a good thing that this was the very first film I have watched of the franchise and the first of this genre after a long while because this horror film class has enabled me to look at these types of films in a new perspective. Unlike the common slasher film which normally places the protagonists in the path of an unknown killer, Halloween actually explains how and why Michael Myers became the iconic killer of the series. As I have said before in my past reviews, explaining the story in a logical manner is a big factor of how I review a film.

It may be because I have never really understood the appeal of slasher films in the past enough to notice its elements but as I was watching the scene where the psychologist was trying to explain Michael’s behavior, it dawned upon me that it was the lack of emotion the killer evokes through his mask that made it the defining icon of the film series. Just think, if we place ourselves in the shoes of the would-be victim, that impassive face must be the most horrifying thing you would ever see before you die. Michael Myers was a child that grew up in an environment that was both violent and repressive. He had certain expectations to meet. He did not like them but he had to put up with it with a straight face. This was a prelude to his obsession with masks. When his mind finally snapped, it was on Halloween, hence the title. As if that coincidence was not enough, he also breaks out of the mental facility on the day before Halloween to continue his murders. This film was different from the previous movies we watched in class because it takes on the point of view of the antagonist.  I was able to understand the reason why Michael committed those murders and I was able to sympathize with him, even just for a bit. When his face was still shown onscreen, I could still see a hint of emotion when he was talking to the doctor, but we do not get to see his adult face because he had his mask on the entire time. I think this was done to clearly define that Michael was the antagonist of this film. I would like to think that Michael did not entirely lose his sanity because his actions towards his younger sister indicated that he was somehow attached to her. When his sister was still a baby, Michael could have killed her but he did not.  Then again, she did not really do anything to abuse Michael, unlike his stepfather and sister. If we look at this movie objectively, it is really just about an individual trying to strike back at an environment that was hostile to him.