I always love Halloween and all of my life, I have been a big fan of the horror genre. This weekend, it was all horror and Halloween-themed stuff on TV. All weekend long. I watched the "Paranormal Activity" franchise on FX, I watched "Krampus," I watched some of Stephen King's "The Shining" mini-series, I watched some episodes of "The Simpsons-Treehouse of Horror" and I watched a couple horror movies between baseball. One film that I watched was John Carpenters original "Halloween" from 1978.
No, I did not watch the Rob Zombie remake from 2007, I watched the original. We all know the original is great. But what makes it great?
Well for starters, what's amazing about the film is that there is no gore. At all. Whatsoever. Not in an extreme sense, perhaps there is a little at the VERY BEGINNING, but that's it. For the rest of the film's running time, there is no gore. Usually, when we think of masked killer movies, we think "slasher-horror." We think things are going to get bloody. But that was always the genius of the film, there was no blood. The film is an hour and twenty-nine minutes of pure terror. The killings in the film are all joking, more exotic murders not involving things that make people bleed. But what makes "Halloween" scary isn't how Michael My...err...I mean, The Shape kills. There are several scenes in the beginning of the film where The Shape is stalking Jamie Lee Curtis' character. Sometimes, we don't exactly know what we are seeing. We see him pear from a car, standing in a backyard, behind a bush. As characters do a double-take, we in turn do a double-take and these second looks horrify us. Its amazing how the movie makes us question what we are seeing.
I have to go back to the non-gore thing one more time. Because everything that makes John Carpenters film a classic of the genre is what is wrong with Rob Zombie's remake. Zombie just made any old generic slasher movie. He turned Michael Myers into a big, bulky, Leatherface-ish lug. Michael Myers works because he's not Jason, he's not Leatherface, he's not Freddy Kruger. He's his own character, smart, calm and calculated. He's not the type who is going to butcher you with a knife, but he is extremely dangerous. Zombie transformed the character into the former and that was just sad. This is why I hate our remake culture. We sometimes ruin something that was already so great for no reason.
The film I watched last night was Lucio Fulci's "Zombie." This film came out in 1979. At the surface value, yes, you can call this film the Italian "Dawn of the Dead." It was cut from the same vein of those films and before then we didn't have a whole lot of honest-to-God zombie movies. So it felt very similar to the films George A. Romero had already made. But it was given the Italian touch. Italian style horror films are very different compared to American horror films. They have particular make-up affects, they don't hold back on the gore, there is almost a beauty to the way death and blood are depicted. You can definitely see that in "Zombie." Plus, there are some scenes that top some of the best scenes in horror movies. There is the classic scene of a woman trapping herself in a room as zombies are trying to get in. One zombie reaches through her wooden door and grabs her by the hair. The zombie begins to pull her, ever so slowly, towards him. The scene is a slow burn to see if her eye will go through a wooden stake made when he reached through the door. There is no cut-away, you watch all of it. And the eye actually, slowly goes into the stake. It's definitely not for the weak stomach, but then again, what zombie movie is?
Then there is the scene where a woman scuba-diving runs into a zombie underwater and when she finally gets away, the zombie comes into contact with a shark. Yes, there is a shark and zombie fight in this movie, and its actually kind of awesome! We see the zombie take a bite out of the shark, and then the shark in turn takes a bite out of the zombie. Do we ever see a zombified shark? I am afraid not, but that sure would have been cool, no?
These were the horror films I enjoyed this spooky season. What horror films do you enjoy during this time of year? How do you celebrate Halloween? I am now going to watch last night's episode of "Ash vs. The Evil Dead!"
Enjoy your Halloween folks!