Lock your doors. Lock your windows

In 1978, Jamie Lee Curtis was largely unknown to the movie-going public. The daughter of Tony Curtis (star of 1968's The Boston Strangler) and Janet Leigh (who says she's never been comfortable in a shower since being Norman's victim in Hitchcock's movie, Psycho), Jamie Lee Curtis became an overnight star, the "scream queen," with Halloween. Director John Carpenter even cast mother and daughter together the following year in his thriller, The Fog.
The year after that, Jamie Lee Curtis starred in Terror Train (1980), in which a killer on a chartered trip begins killing costumed college frat members on a Halloween or Graduation night train ride, and putting on each victim's costume to go after the next one. Filmed by John Alcott (A Clockwork Orange) in Canada.

Halloween (1978)

Fifteen years ago tonight, they say a local boy almost wiped out his family. And tonight, they say he'll be back. Meanwhile, a baby sitter (Curtis) prepares to put her two young charges to bed. Locked away for years in a mental hospital, the killer escapes and returns to his home to continue his killing spree. When the killing starts, she tries to get the kids to safety next door, then hides in a closet with slats so she can see him coming into the room. Which he does.
Produced for very little money and a tight shooting schedule, HALLOWEEN was a stunning success when it was released. Cowritten by John Carpenter and his longtime producer Debra Hill, the film set both their careers on fire, working together many times over the next 25 years. The film also turned the slasher movie into a viable, successful genre. HALLOWEEN has been copied, parodied and turned into a franchise of its own, but the original is still considered the best of the bunch. HALLOWEEN was John Carpenter's first foray into horror, and remains the standard to which all other modern horror films are measured.
The film which ushered in the modern age of horror stands well above its many sequels and clones because John Carpenter's taut direction makes it truly scary. Unlike most slasher movies that followed, the body count is fairly low in this one.

Curtis finally turns on her attacker, with help from Michael's psychiatrist (Donald Pleasence). Stabbed and shot, he's finally killed and knocked out of a second-story window by the gunshots (see quotes section below). But when they look out, no one's on the ground . . .

In addition to the movie, Carpenter also wrote the Halloween themesong and background music. Blue Oyster Cult wrote The Reaper themesong for the first movie.
A Reviewer said: "...Rarely have the remoter corners of the Panavision frame been used to such good effect, as shifting volumes of darkness and light reveal the ineluctable presence of a sinister something..."

Halloween II (1981)

Set later the same night (picking up right where the last film ended), this sequel begins as Dr. Loomis pumps evil Mike Myers full of lead, then watches helplessly as the maniac killer stands up again and runs away. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), the teenager last terrorized by Myers, is taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance to recover from her traumatic ordeal. Fortunately, her wounds from the earlier movie aren't that bad, because the killer (eventually revealed to be her brother Michael Myers, she was the sole survivor 15 years ago) has followed her to the hospital, where he proceeds to kill off staff members. Psychiatrist Donald Pleasence eventually shows up and shoots him some more, but is he really dead this time? Co-written by Carpenter.
MonsterVision page for Halloween 2

Halloween III, Season of the Witch (1983)

No relation to the first two, with a different story, cast and director. Co-producer John Carpenter's Season of the Witch was intended as a separate, stand-alone movie, but the studio decided it would sell better with Halloween 3 preceeding the title. Dan O'Herlihy of the RoboCop movies plays a Satanist who plans to use television to murder millions of children with a Halloween broadcast containing subliminal messages. The critics were not kind to this movie. Carpenter did not direct, or write the story or script, just the new music, including the hilarious tv commercial jingle parody Silver Shamrock.
Click here for thoughts about this movie by the artist formerly known as the host of Monstervision and of course those Drive-In Totals

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

Sequel to Halloween 2 - While being moved from a maximum security prison for the criminally insane, Michael regains consciousness and escapes. The trail of carnage leads Dr. Loomis, the psychiatrist all too familiar with Michael's case, to a small town that was the scene of Michael's crimes in the past. Here, we meet Michael's niece (Danielle Harris), who Michael also wants to kill, starting a new trilogy without Jamie Lee Curtis as the subject of Michael's homicidal attention. John Carpenter had no involvement in these three, instead making "They Live" (1988). Note: the next movie description gives away what happens to Myers at the end of this one.
Click here for thoughts about this movie by the artist formerly known as the host of Monstervision and more Drive-In Totals

Halloween 5 (1989)

When the town police ignore his warnings that the madman Michael Myers has escaped his mineshaft tomb, Dr. Loomis tries to persuade Myers' niece to help him trap the evil killer who has embarked on a bloody rampage through the town.
Click here for musings on this movie by the artist formerly known as the host of Monstervision, plus yet more Drive-In Totals

Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

Six years after being presumed dead in a fire, and just as the town prepares to finally celebrate Halloween again, Michael Myers returns to Haddonfield to continue his reign of terror, pursued as ever by obsessed psychiatrist Dr. Loomis (Pleasance). Meanwhile, a new family has moved into the old home of serial killer Michael Myers (didn't they wonder why it was so cheap?) and the blood-letting resumes. Psychiatrist Dr. Loomis, who knows Michael better than anyone, is once again called upon to investigate the killings. By now, niece Harris has a baby of her own. Michael is now in league with the Druids (perhaps the studio wanted a link to Halloween 3), but she and baby escape the catacombs, so Michael turns his blind rage on the new family that has moved into his old house. Final Halloween movie with Donald Pleasance. Carpenter had no involvement with this one either, making instead "Village of the Damned" (1995)

Halloween H2O (1998)

Now the headmistress of a Northern California private school, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is still struggling with the horrifying, 20-year-old memories of the maniacal killer Michael Myers. That horror becomes a reality when he suddenly reappears with a vengeance (after a relentless day-and-a-half cross country trek from Illinois, where he killed three more people and stole a victim's car), threatening the lives of Laurie's rebellious son, his girlfriend, and the school security guard. It's up to Laurie to conquer her internal demons and put evil in its place once and for all. A conveniently placed ax helps.

Halloween 8

Latest news about Halloween 8, the long-delayed sequel. Jamie Lee Curtis will have at least a cameo and is said to be considering a larger role in it. She told Access Hollywood that her entire career traces back to the Halloween movies. The shadowy Michael Myers is now refered to as "the shape." Due for release July, 2002. Rumor has it that Halloween 9 will have Myers going after Jason of the "Friday the 13th" movies, but who believes rumors? By the way, Halloween 8 will be up against the 3rd "Austin Powers" movie in July 2002, starring comic/actor Michael Myers.
On 12-10-02, it was also released on DVD:
"Michael Myers once again comes home in Halloween Resurrection, featuring Busta Rhymes kicking some serious Myers ass. This special edition includes a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 surround tracks, audio commentary and deleted scenes, never-before-seen "Dangertainment" video-cam footage shot by the actors, and the trailer. (While early reports indicated that the "Dangertainment" footage would be accessible during the film via the multi-angle function, no details have yet been released, but stay tuned). Director Rick Rosenthal has already clued us in that several cut scenes will most likely be included. Rosenthal also says that they're working to bring a multiple angle format to the disc to allow you to view the entire film directly through the cast's cameras. In other words, you'll be able to experience Dangertainment first hand, much like the character of Myles did in the movie, choosing whichever point-of-view you wish."

Halloween Trivia

* HALLOWEEN includes a clip of the Howard Hawks-Christian Nyby classic, THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD. Years later, director John Carpenter would remake that film as THE THING.
* Sam Loomis, the character played by Donald Pleasence, is also the name of Janet Leigh's boyfriend in PSYCHO.
* The film was shot in spring, when the leaves were not in color, so fake leaves were used and, to accommodate the meager budget, reused.
* The mask that Michael Myers wears is a William Shatner mask, only sprayed white to make it look more creepy.
* The film's score is credited to "The Bowling Green Philharmonic," which was actually John Carpenter and a group of musician friends. Carpenter would go on to compose the music, usually keyboard-based, for most of his other films.
* After casting all the other roles with unknown actors, only $20,000 was left in the budget for "Halloween" and the producer wanted a name actor to play Dr. Loomis. The role was offered to Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, but both turned it down. The daughter of Donald Pleasance loved Carpenter's second film (about a remote police station under seige) and begged him to accept the role.
Since the $20,000 was for just one week's work, all of the scenes with Pleasance in them were shot back-to-back in one week.
* Actor Donald Pleasance died after the Halloween 6 was completed, the film is dedicated to him.
* Horror fans: watch for the car that Curtis' real life mom, Janet Leigh, drives in Halloween H20 -- does it look familiar?
* Anne Lockhart, who later played the good witch who helps young Harry Potter in "Troll" (1986), was offered the role of Laurie, but was unavailable. MonsterVision host segments for Troll
* Mike Myers was a completely fictional name in the first Halloween movie. Since then, a comic/actor named Mike Myers "graduated" from Saturday Night Live to do movies including the horror spoof So I Married An Ax Murderer (1993) which shows up occasionally on Comedy Central channel

Halloween Quotes

"Was that the bogeyman?"--Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), after Michael is shot off a balcony
"As a matter of fact...it was."--Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence)
Dr. Loomis audio clips (fan remix)
(send in your favorite quotes)

Adrienne Barbeau

is currently appearing in the HBO tv-series "Carni-vale" as the carny's snake dancer, and loves it. "I found a woman near here who actually teaches snake dancing in her home. She has appeared in "The Fog", "Swamp Thing", and co-starred with Bill Maher as an Amazon in "Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death." Of the latter she says, "Actually, I thought that movie was hilarious, but sometimes you take jobs because your basement is flooded." She currently has twin sons with husband Billy Van Zandt, and an older son with ex-husband John Carpenter. She was born 6-11-45 and gave birth to the twins at age 51 according to Zap2it.com

The Halloween movies are available on video and DVD

John Carpenter's Other Movies

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More links to follow: Universal Horror (the studio), Donald Pleasance bio

More Halloween movies including clips of the very first one, and The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

Jamie Lee Curtis movies

Lock your doors & windows, and click here for Real Audio of the Halloween themesong . . . then here for The End

Or here to hear the Halloween-Mix Midi again

Or here for that delightful 1950s Mr. Sandman ditty from Halloween II and Halloween H20

A Nightmare on Elm Street

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A guest at the Bates Motel has a complaint. Do you:
A) Fix the problem
B) Ignore the complaint
C) Hack her to death with a knife
You'd be surprised how many people answer "C"
Psycho movie page

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Text & layout Bill Laidlaw. All Rights Reserved. Is this the Shape of things to come?