The Night HE Came Home
John Carpenter's Classic Still Delivers
When John Carpenter's classic slasher film was re-released this past October, I was lucky enough to relive the terror. This was a night at the cinema were generations of horror fans came together.
The very mention of the word conjures up many thoughts. Jack-o-Lanterns, costumes, trick or treating, and candy come to mind. But to many people, Halloween brings to mind two things; a ghostly white mask and a blue jumpsuit.
Nearly 35 years ago director John Carpenter unleashed “Halloween” upon the world. While many cultures around the world have their own vision of the Bogeyman; Carpenter finally gave North America their own personification of the Bogeyman. The Bogeyman now came in the shape of Michael Myers. And now, in celebration of the holiday, “Halloween” has been re-released in theatres for a limited time. Of course, I had to go and see it.
I was born too late to experience “Halloween” upon its initial release; but now I could finally see it on the big screen. As I sat in the theatre, I watched people start to filter in. The theatre soon filled to capacity. I took me aback to realize that the auditorium was sold out. This wasn’t the latest Hollywood horror cash-in, or the last chance to see a blockbuster, or even a potential Oscar winner; this was a movie nearly 35 years old. And sitting in this room were people as young as 7-8 years old up to 50-60 years old.
When the movie began, you could hear a pin drop. No one was talking, no one was shuffling in his or her seat, and perhaps most shockingly to me; not one single cell phone lit up the entire run time. People were there for “Halloween” and everyone put their lives on hold. The focus was squarely on the chilling theme music and the haunting imagery. That’s the power of Michael Myers and that’s the power of “Halloween.” Movies today don’t capture the thrill of today’s moviegoers and modern horror movies don’t command the audiences respect like “Halloween” does.
This got me thinking, what is it about Michael Myers that puts him above Freddy, Jason, or Leatherface? Michael Myers is the embodiment of pure evil. He’s the faceless monster that haunts your worst nightmares. Michael lives in the shadows on your city streets. Michael Myers is a blank slate and he could be anyone. Michael Myers is relentless and you can never defeat evil. Michael Myers is perhaps the biggest icon the horror genre has. Michael Myers has been the backbone of the most successful independent film franchise; with seven sequels, a remake, and subsequent sequel. Michael Myers is the most endearing serial killer ever committed to celluloid.
While Michael Myers may have begun as the shape; he has become a legendary image of horror. Every person knows Michael Myers. Kids still dress as him on Halloween. People wear shirts with his face on them and buy action figures of him. Michael Myers has transformed from our terrifying Bogeyman to our beloved Bogeyman. Michael Myers is one of those characters that will always hold a special place in the hearts of horror fans, and filmgoers the world over. Perhaps it is this that causes an audience in 2012 to flock to a theatre, ignore their cell phones, and pay tribute to a film from 1978.
As I was leaving the theatre, I got hit with the biggest dose of reality that “Halloween” is more than just a slasher film. I saw a father with his 7-year-old son leaving and I had to ask what made him bring his young son to such a scary film. The father told me that his own father took him to see it when the original came out and he wanted to share that feeling with his own son. “Halloween” transcends the medium it’s a part of. “Halloween” is a force of nature and it affects people on a deeper level than most any horror films. I feel lucky I got the chance to “Halloween” as it was meant to be, even if I was about 35 years too late.
“Halloween” is full of iconic images and memorable dialogue. To this day, it is still quoted by horror fans worldwide and the images live forever in the minds of those who have seen it. But it is a line by little Tommy Doyle that perhaps sums up the legacy of “Halloween” and Michael Myers the best. It is a line that never rang more true than sitting in a sold out theatre watching Michael Myers still terrify an audience. The line is simple; “You can’t kill the Bogeyman.”