15 Responses to “Happy…”

  1. happy halloween to ‘the dream’! (well, it was actually halloween here yesterday but at any rate)


    for halloween i watched ‘house’ for the first time in ages (at someone else’s house), how can you not enjoy william katt trying to outsmart a nasty haunted house?

    then late last night at home, i of course watched ‘the ween’ as i do every halloween, this time on blu-ray. it was maaaaaarvelous. a few observations (hopefully i didn’t say the exact same shit last year on here):

    (tho i should probably point out in a brief and annoying lecture that if you haven’t seen carpenter’s ‘halloween’ then you have a gaping hole in your film viewing that must be rectified toot sweet, as one of the pioneers — or is it THE first? – of the steadicam used to sublime effect in a feature film and one of the most beloved – and profitable – low-budget indies in the history of the universe)

    anyway carpenter and cundey pull a very interesting trick with the photography of ‘the shape’ that i’d noticed long ago/many time previous but for some reason it really stood out in last night’s viewing (perhaps seeing it for the first time on blu?):

    after the infamous POV steadicam shot (actually a couple cuts in there but anyhoo) of young michael killing judith in the opening sequence, there are numerous instances in haddonfield wherein we the viewer are initially led to believe we are once again seeing thru mike’s eyes as he walks (or drives, or murders) – we hear his breathing, footfalls, etc – only to have camera pull back to just over the shape’s shoulder or some such, setting us up as the third person shadow with very, very effective camera work. in these instances we the viewer are bound to ‘the shape’ horribly closely and intimately so as to virtually ‘see what mike sees’, even hear his breathing beneath his mask, but we remain a third person observer glued to his every move as he stalks around in his single-minded bubble. it seems this is often missed in assessments of the film, with the perpetuation of a common misconception that much of mike’s movement is seen thru mike’s POV, which actually isn’t the case; the viewer is often initially put in the position to think we are seeing thru mike’s eyes, but in fact camera eventually reveals that we are instead the shape’s shadow, seeing things from just behind/beside/over his shoulder, etc. brilliant camera work.

    that’s probably enough from me on this movie or i’ll start to babble, but another amusing point is carpenter relating the story of how he showed a work print of the film to someone (without the score) and their reaction was something akin to “this isn’t scary at all”. carpenter knew his weird 5/4 music would be absolutely crucial and inextricably tied to creating much of the tension and suspense that drives the movie, and he was absolutely correct.

    • christian Says:

      Isn’t that poster BONZA? Must have been very limited usage.

      Agreed about the fantastic steadicam work and you’re absolutely right about Carpenter’s POV misdirection. I think this is simply the Prankster Director’s POV to throw the audience off guard — Carpenter certainly perfected if not wholly originated the Scary Figure Entering The Far Side Of The Frame.

      The music is brilliant and scary but I can’t imagine the film not being scary without music. It might seem more creepy, but the film is so interlocked with the music, especially Laurie’s long walk through the neighborhood Autumn with that great keyboard theme tracking her…

      • yeah i think it would still be scary w/out the score, that person was nuts (but carpenters music is just so unique and the perfect accompaniment to the piece; eerie, off-kilter, and that low driving piano note when HE’S COMING… you better haul ass but it won’t matter cause he’s gonna get to you eventually no matter what). one of these days i’ll have to watch the w/out the sound, i don’t think i’ve ever done that.

        the ‘prankster director’s POV’, interesting way to put it; it’s an effective way to make the viewer the shape’s unwilling witness/accomplice, but never for a moment eliciting sympathy for the killer but instead the helpless feeling of being dragged along for a horrible ride.

  2. just to clarify, i should have mentioned in the above that there are a few shots where we do see thru mike’s true POV, but these are quite few and far between.

      • Some people have knocked Siskel for a variety of reasons, but he and Ebert together were priceless, a beautiful balance of (sometimes opposite) opinions and intellect. Plus, they were simply fun to watch and listen to. I can’t think of another reviewing team who were quite so compelling.

  3. One of the things I love about this film is the early scenes where “the Shape” is stalking Laurie and her friends in broad daylight. So many horror films would’ve set these moments at night to use the shadows, etc. but I love that Carpenter has the balls to do it out in daylight and there is somethin extra unsettling, extra disturbing about that. Also, great, great use of widescreen framing.

    • christian Says:

      Especially when Laurie looks out the bedroom window and the Shape is briefly seen behind the clothes sheets. And the creepy moment when the girls shout out at the passing car — and it stops.

  4. I’ve never seen that poster either. I love it.

    Fantastic observation, Leah. I’ll watch for that next time around. You can always find something new in your favorite films.

    Unfortunately for me, I often find myself nit-picking after a certain number of viewings. Why did he do that, why didn’t she do this, there’s a continuity error, why didn’t Mike take the truck along with the coveralls and ditch the hospital car, Loomis is an idiot, why doesn’t Bob’s head slump when he’s pinned to the door (instant rigor mortis?), why don’t you PICK UP THE KNIFE, LAURIE! …and so on.

    But I still love it.

    • so true — but then you reach that magical point where you no longer have anything left to nitpick, having exhausted every little flaw and annoyance, and then you can just focus on weird shit like watching one single character the entire time in their scenes (which is harder than it sounds, never taking your eyes off them), or trying to figure our exactly how each scene is lit or looking for just the changes in focus or compositions of foregrounds/backgrounds, and then you know you have crossed over into true weirdo territory

  5. I never doubted that you abide in true weirdo territory, L. I’d say you’ve put down deep roots.

  6. lol, frank, i prefer to think of myself as ‘eccentric’ if it’s all the same to you…tho i think i may need to be a bit richer to get away with being ‘eccentric’ rather than just plain weird

  7. Erik Bauer Says:

    Great poster — I haven’t seen that one either.

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