Special Screaming: Halloween

Autumn has fallen and it’s time once more to celebrate the primal, compulsive instinct of fear. Rainestorm finishes its horror trilogy and goes to the well one last time to highlight 31 days of spooky scares that season the eerie atmosphere of Halloween.

For those of us disenchanted with the new films that have plagued theatres this year, the good news is there are a good many classic film revivals lighting up screens in the third quarter of 2012. Perhaps the imminent end of the world is triggering a bout of movie nostalgia. September gave us Raiders of the Lost Ark to salvage an otherwise dismal summer. Then earlier this month the king of motion pictures, Lawrence of Arabia, received a stunning digital re-release. If that isn’t enough candy to fill your pillowcase, tonight marks the one-night-only return to the big screen of Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein, as well as the quintessential October horror movie, John Carpenter’s:

Hex cast: 1978

Jamie Lee Curtis in 'Halloween'

Babysitting is exhausting.

The charm: 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.

Focal point: 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.

Entrancing trivia: In one scene, young charge Tommy Doyle watches The Thing on television, a horror classic Carpenter would later remake.

Speak the words: “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.”

Companion spell: 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.

Cursed by: After nearly 35 years, this icon is finally starting to show its age.