Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Second chances: Halloween (1978)

I am going to watch Halloween (1978) again this weekend, and I'm going to try to see it with fresh eyes.

If you had asked me yesterday what I thought of Halloween, I would have told you that I think it's boring and overrated, but that's a confusion of tenses. I thought it was boring and overrated when I saw it, more than a decade ago. I watched Halloween and Rosemary's Baby the same night, and I thought, "Fuck those were two boring movies." And I've never really gone back and re-examined those opinions. I just filed them away in my head as "What I think about Halloween" and "What I think about Rosemary's Baby." But it isn't what I think, it's what I thought. I am not the same person I was, and the things I appreciate and understand about movies have changed along with me.

I don't think that a person needs to constantly re-evaluate the opinions they formed when they were younger, but it seems foolish to refuse to question them at all.

People I respect have recommended Halloween to me on several occasions, but I've always sort of dismissed them in favour of 20-year-old Joey's opinion. And that's insane, because 20-year-old Joey was a dipshit.


  1. Michelle Kennedy pointed me to your blog...

    I don't know how I feel about Halloween - like you, I watched it when I was young, and I should probably give it another chance. BUT, I do know how I feel about the theme song. It still sends shivers along my spine.

  2. I think if you rewatch, Joey, you will realize your mistake with these movies.

    Halloween, while sometimes overrated, is a fantastic slasher that packs a lot of suspense. I think part of what made it so groundbreaking was that the context of horror movies were previously set in imagination, but Halloween could happen in your neighborhood. The movie is very well done if you look at it from that perspective.

    As far as Rosemary's Baby, it is another one of my favorites. The movie is so fantastically ahead of it's time. The performances are great and the first time I watched it I second guessed my own theories at every turn. It keeps you guessing, or at least anticipating.

    What I think both of these movies have in common is that their stylistic approaches are repeated nowadays ad nauseum. These movies were simply the first mainstream films of their kind, and they both hold up decades later!

  3. I liked ROSEMARY'S BABY much more the second time; I was able to look past the cheesy 70s veneer.

    I haven't seen the 1978 HALLOWEEN in ages, but I did watch the Rob Zombie version the other night and I do like it, even though it's disjointed. I'm a sucker for origin stories like that.

    Think I'll have to rent the '78 version this weekend.

  4. Definitely revisit Rosemary's Baby. Don't look for big scares but for ramping tension and arresting images. There are so many fantastic moments mixing domesticity with the grotesque. Like when Rosemary satisfies a craving for liver, and sees her own white face and bloody mouth distorted in the side of the toaster. When she's trying to sneak past the antagonists clutching a butcher knife, she accidentally knocks into the empty cradle and sends it rocking, and stops it with the point of the knife.

    You'll probably also get more out of it now because a lot of the tension plays on your empathy for Rosemary's vulnerability as her body changes and the baby grows and she loses more and more control over her life.

  5. I saw Rosemary's Baby in high school and enjoyed it... Didn't see Halloween until college, as part of a modern American horror film class; didn't think much of it.

    How was your repeat viewing?

  6. You never wrote about your second viewing of Halloween. :(