This week Movie & A Beer is celebrating Halloween by reviewing John Carpenter’s “Halloween” with our friends Cody Thompson of Three B Zine and Eugene Abano of Reviews Galore. Make sure to click on the hyperlinks above ^^^ to read their take on the film, and see what they paired for their spooky experience.
I’m getting a bit weird with my review this week because my first impression of the film was eerily similar to that of a dead guy.
The incomparable Roger Ebert, to be exact, reviewed the film on October 31, 1979 which he called “an absolutely merciless thriller, a movie so violent and scary that, yes, I would compare it to “Psycho” (1960). It’s a terrifying and creepy film about what one of the characters calls Evil Personified.”
Watching this film for the first time I thought to myself ‘How was this received in 1978 when I, in 2014, am offended and down right cringing at the violence?!’ The villain, if you want to call him that. Is a small child who, upon donning a mask, proceeds to murder his seemingly promiscuous sister.” It’s all from the point of view of the child killer, we can hear him struggle and breathe through the mask. Eerily real, familiar, and completely uncomfortable.
Ebert added. “Halloween is a visceral experience — we aren’t seeing the movie, we’re having it happen to us. It’s frightening. Maybe you don’t like movies that are really scary: Then don’t see this one. It’s easy to create violence on the screen, but it’s hard to do it well. Carpenter is uncannily skilled, for example, at the use of foregrounds in his compositions, and everyone who likes thrillers knows that foregrounds are crucial: The camera establishes the situation, and then it pans to one side, and something unexpectedly looms up in the foreground. Usually it’s a tree or a door or a bush. Not always. And it’s interesting how he paints his victims. They’re all ordinary, everyday people — nobody’s supposed to be the star and have a big scene and win an Academy Award. The performances are all the more absorbing because of that; the movie’s a slice of life that is carefully painted (in drab daylights and impenetrable nighttimes) before its human monster enters the scene.”
It’s so true, it’s drab, there’s no explanation of who’s who, save for the killer and his psychiatrist. Really, we are a character in the film, it’s happening to us, in real time, right alongside the characters. It’s easy to dismiss so many of the tropes in this film as cliches, but really, this movie and the director/writer/composer John Carpenter started it all.
Ebert concluded “We see movies for a lot of reasons. Sometimes we want to be amused. Sometimes we want to escape. Sometimes we want to laugh, or cry, or see sunsets. And sometimes we want to be scared. I’d like to be clear about this. If you don’t want to have a really terrifying experience, don’t see “Halloween.”
My wife got a stomach ache, my dog put herself to bed in the front room, I locked all the doors. We were shook. In this day and age of hyper violent, stylized action films and hyper violent stylized reality, this film caused a real reaction.
…I needed a drink…
I paired this film with Southern Tier’s Warlock an Imperial Stout that clocks in at 8.60% ABV. According to the good folks at Southern Tier this imperial stout is “brewed with pumpkins Warlock is brewed to enchant your palate on its own and also to counterpoint our Imperial Ale, Pumking. Make your own black magic by carefully pouring this Imperial Stout into a goblet. Dark and mysterious, the Blackwater Series is serious about high gravity. Reanimate your senses with Warlock’s huge roasted malt character, moderate carbonation and spicy pumpkin pie aroma.”
The Good: Everything. Especially the film score.
The Bad: It obviously took place in 1974.
The Ugly: The killings and violence are so real, it borders snuff films.
Overall… watch it. For the sake of cinema. Watch it!