In observance of that autumn spell when we celebrate the primal, compulsive instinct of fear, Rainestorm highlights 31 days of spooky scares to season the eerie atmosphere of Halloween.
Reign of terror: 1978
The horror… the horror: Could tonight’s selection be anything else? Alfred Hitchcock may have invented the slasher film with Psycho but John Carpenter transformed it into its own sub-genre. Virtually every horror film that followed owes its conception to this perennial holiday darling. Michael Myers has become the quintessential Halloween boogeyman and cemented his place among the throng of horror movie monsters who cannot-be-killed. It also introduced audiences to ‘scream queen’ Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, the archetypal babysitter in distress. Like many filmmakers, Carpenter did his best work when restricted by a miniscule budget, forcing him to delay the terror and amp up the suspense, which he does beautifully. In the absence of visual thrills in early scenes, Carpenter utilized the now legendary and astonishingly simple and minimalist 5/4 meter to create a chilling score that resonates with audiences today. When you hear it you recognize it immediately and your blood runs cold. Though slasher films in general are derided as a corrupting influence on America’s youth, Halloween is often held out as an exception. Rather than relying on pandering gore and inventive methods of murder, it instead played on the instinctive fear of menacing entities stalking us from dark corners, making even the safety of our homes a gossamer illusion.
Halloween haunt: Haddonfield, Illinois, whose windswept streets and autumn leaves in quiet neighborhoods provide the perfect backdrop for shadowy figures skulking behind trees and bushes.
Tastiest treat: In a classic ‘look behind you’ moment, the Shape sits up and turns his head slowly towards Laurie, who is oblivious to the fact that she has failed to kill him.
Check the candy for: In one scene, young charge Tommy Doyle watches The Thing on television, a horror classic Carpenter would later remake.
Devilish discourse: “I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply… evil.”
Goes great with: Trick ‘r Treat (2007). A Halloween anthology that draws inspiration from multiple sources, including John Carpenter’s slasher classic, and serves up four intertwined vignettes in classic campfire-story style.