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Halloween H40?--
Bring
It On,
John!


 

 

As with everything these days, films are often derivative of other films; originality doesn’t really exist. But sometimes taking inspiration from something great adds to the strength of a film and gives the audience something else to look out for. Considering that we all love to put things in boxes and link things together, it’s no surprise that finding ‘Easter eggs’ or hidden references in our favourite films can bring a little more joy.

      Halloween is possibly the best-known genre franchise to date, except perhaps for Saw. Spawning eight films and two remakes, the horror series has yet to run its course and a new Halloween H40: 40 Years Later has just been announced to add to the collection. Halloween began life in 1978, written, directed and scored by John Carpenter. It was one of his first feature films, following Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) and Dark Star (1974), and it paved the way for him to become one of the most iconic names in horror. 

      Halloween is set - you guessed it - on Halloween night and stars Jamie Lee Curtis, the daughter of Fifties' stars Janet Leigh (Psycho) and Tony Curtis. The film follows Curtis’s character Laurie as she hides from 'bogeyman' Michael Myers, an escaped psychopath who went to prison as a child fifteen years earlier for murdering his sister on Halloween. Not only that but Halloween II explains how Laurie is Myers’s other sister and he wants to kill her too! The setting for the film is a small town named Haddonfield which could simply be any Midwestern town in America. The Halloween franchise sees Curtis’s character return year after year to battle the same monster who seems to be unstoppable. He even gets shot with a magnum at the end of the first film and still manages to get back up again.

      Halloween has inspired many films along the way, not only with its setting, cinematography and directorial style, but with a soundtrack so unique that even non-horror fans would recognise it. The film also went some way to defining certain genre tropes, such as the ‘final girl’, utilised by so many later films that it has become a cliche unto itself. Halloween became a seminal part of the 1980s' ‘slasher’ sub-genre, which had its roots in Psycho (1960) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) but was mostly set in train byFriday 13th (1980) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984. Another trope entrenched by Halloween was the shot from the killer’s point of view, which previously had been utilised most notably in Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom (1960). The POV shot accentuates the closeness and intrusion of the monster, while also telegraphing the voyeuristic nature of the experience to the audience. 

      A recent film drenched in Halloween nods that comes immediately to mind is David Robert Mitchell’s 2014 horror, It Follows. Mitcell's film is set on a typical middle-American estate of sprawling houses and wide, empty streets, as Jay (Maika Monroe) and her friends find themselves caught up in a terrible ordeal where a relentless spectre follows them after they have had sex. It Follows doesn’t feature any parents or adult figures, much like Halloween, which helps to further the sense of unease and resonates of coming-of-age. (It Follows features a scene in which Jay is staring out of the window of her class, day-dreaming, when she sees the thing that’s following her walking towards her; Halloween has a similar sequence where Laurie is looking out of the window while in class, and she sees Michael Myers. Mitchell obviously took a lot from Halloween and he hasn’t been the only one.)

      Carpenter cites his own inspirations within many of the Halloween films. The most interesting of which comes during the first, when kids are shown watching The Thing from Another World (1951) on television. This was certainly an inspiring film for Carpenter as he went on to make The Thing in 1982, adapted from the same source novel. The second in the Halloween franchise has a snippet from the well-known scene in Night of the Living Dead (1968) where Johnny says, 'They’re coming to get you, Barbara - there’s one of them now!' This also plays on television, reminding the audience that we all love a good dose of horror on Halloween night. 

      After eight movies - Halloween (1978), Halloween II (1981), Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988), Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989), Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) and Halloween Resurrection (2002) - Rob Zombie decided to remake the original himself, to the general dissatisfaction of Carpenter fans. Zombie’s film surfaced in 2007, with a second in 2009. There was some speculation last year about whether Carpenter was happy for Zombie to remake the films, when the latter accused Carpenter of being 'cold' towards him - an allegation that Carpenter refuted. Now that Halloween is to get a continuation of its original series next autumn, Zombie’s films might just disappear into insignificance, allowing the creator of the famous franchise to reclaim his rightful pumpkin carriage, along with Jamie Lee and the invincible Myers 'bogeyman'.

      With the real Halloween just around the corner, there’s every need to be afraid of serial killers in strange masks. And that fear will be even more acute next year, if John Carpenter has anything to do with it...