Often imitated, never equaled. It’s a phrase we hear all the time, but for the John Carpenter classic Halloween, it’s still true.
Halloween launched the mad slasher craze in horror, but none of the movies that cloned Halloween had a fraction of the scares or Carpenter’s artistry as a filmmaker. It’s safe to say that Halloween will probably be the only mad slasher film that will be in the Library of Congress, and now it’s back for a special Halloween season release.
As Dread Central reports, Halloween will be coming back to theaters for a limited run across the United States, and it will also have a documentary that will open each screening, You Can’t Kill the Boogeyman: 35 Years of Halloween. Screenings will begin on October 25 and you can look up dates, times and locations here.
Halloween was truly the Pulp Fiction success story of its day because it was an independent film that cost $320,000, and made back $40 million, a huge return on investment, and the major studios immediately took notice. Yet unlike Pulp Fiction, which was released by Miramax, who were then under the Disney umbrella, Halloween was a truly independent film that succeeded outside the system.
Like a low budget B movie, Halloween went around the country state by state, "bicycling" prints from city to city, and within three to five months, it became a phenomenon. (Carpenter didn’t even know it was a hit until Avco Embassy offered him a two-picture deal, and he made The Fog and Escape From New York for the company). Like Tarantino and Hitchcock, Carpenter also became a star director, and his name became synonymous with screen terror.
For those who worked on Halloween, it was a tremendously fun experience, a last moment of innocence before Carpenter and his team learned the cynical ways of the big Hollywood system. Halloween also inspired other filmmakers, like Sam Raimi, to pool their own low budget resources and try and outdo it. (While Evil Dead couldn’t scare audiences more than Halloween, it certainly showed Raimi’s brilliance on a shoestring budget).
In the history of horror, Halloween will always be an important milestone, and it’s a trip to think we’re already at its 35th anniversary. As a little kid, I can remember what a phenomenon it was and the urban legend reputation it had for scaring the hell out of audiences. There have certainly been bloodier, nastier movies since, but looking back on Halloween today, you could tell that at the top of his game John Carpenter really knew how to make a movie, and could make an audience scream with the best of them.