Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween (1978)

"It's Halloween, I guess everyone is entitled to one good scare"

The mother of them all! Halloween was made during a time when horror films were few and far between. "Psycho" started the slasher genre in 1960 but the genre laid dormant for almost 2 decades until John Carpenter came along and changed film history forever.

Halloween was released in 1978 and cost a mere $320,000 to make but it earned far more than that, becoming the highest grossing independent film at that time. The film is so simple yet so effective. The film follows Laurie Strode (played by a then unknown Jamie Lee Curtis) and her friends on the night of Halloween as they are stalked and killed by a masked assailant. By today's standards this story has been told a million times over, by in the late 1970s this was something new. Especially the tone that Carpenter brought forth. The film is genuinely scary because of the simpleness to it. Michael Myers is portrayed as a faceless character, and when you do see his face (only twice) he shows no emotion whatsoever. The film begins with a very long POV shot of a young girl being stalked and then murdered, when the scene is over you discover the person whose point of view it came from was a 6-year-old boy. Just the thought of that is enough to chill you to the bone!

This film also really established the horny, drug crazed teenagers that followed oh, so many times in the following decade. This really defined many films since then. And it was even the basis of the 2012 film "The Cabin in the Woods". 

Overall, much can be said about Carpenter and his influence on the horror genre. Halloween was his crowning achievement and sadly he has distanced himself as much as he can from the film. I guess he got tired of being constantly reminded of it, but it's a shame he doesn't like it anymore. It seems over the past few years Carpenter has really distanced himself from all of his films, he almost comes off as if he resents the films. But, he has left us with a great amount of fantastic horror/sci-fi films to choose from. 

Halloween was such a success that a franchise began followed by the 1981 sequel "Halloween II" which was produced and written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill. "Halloween III" which came out the following year was also produced and written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill. The duo left the franchise after that never to be attached to it again. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Short Review of "The Body", an episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"

I spent my years in college studying television production and writing and received my B.A. in that in 2009. Throughout my years in college I have learned to analyze and love television shows from the stories to the production value and I continue that to this very day. Granted I have not been able to practice my art in many ways since I graduated but I still watch television shows more than anything else, regardless of this blog being specifically for movie reviews.

Today, I have chosen to speak about one of my favorite episodes of any television show out there. This episode spoke to me profoundly for many reasons, but the main reason is because something like this happened to me in my own life. In 2000, my mother suffered a severe stroke and later died in 2006 from complications related to that. It was a very dark time in my life, a time that I would never want to relive. In 2002, I began watching the television series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". I've a horror fan for many years, and I felt I would enjoy this series. I was right! "Buffy" is such a fun series to watch and re-watch, the writing is brilliant, the acting is brilliant, almost everything about this series is brilliant. In early 2001 an episode aired called "The Body" which dealt with the death of Buffy's mother. I did not see the episode until very late 2003 but when I finally did I realized how important this episode would be to me.

The episode deals with Buffy's mother who had surgery done to remove a tumor from her brain and in the episode she dies from complications due to this. The rest of the episode is basically everyone coping with the loss of her, and just that description sounds pretty boring or could be sappy, but I want to take a look at some of the things that happen in the show.

First off, there is no music. Throughout the entire episode no music is heard at all. I felt this gave off the eeriness of that feeling you get after someone dies. It's hard to explain the feelings you go through after a loved one dies, especially someone so close to you. This episode spoke to me so much because Joss Whedon did such a good job recreating a time in someone's life that is so hard to describe. In the opening Buffy finds her mother dead and tries frantically to call 911 and administer CPR, but to no avail. The paramedics show up and realize she is dead and leave Buffy alone. She then calls Giles, but her phone call is very vague as to what has happened, leading Giles to think that the main villain of that season is at her house. Buffy then wanders through her house aimlessly. The power of this scene speaks volumes, as when something terrible like that happens I think most people do the same thing. You don't know what to do but you know you have to do something. When Giles arrives he tries himself to revive the mother, but Buffy bursts out with the line "We're not supposed to move the body" and she realizes that she just referred to her mother as "the body" and she breaks down. There some sort of denial when someone dies. It's subconscious to a point but it hits you like a truck when you say out loud "she's dead" or you refer to her as "the body" instead of "mom".

One of my favorite scenes in the entire episode is when we find Willow, Xander, Anya and Tara getting ready to go to the hospital to be with Buffy and Anya doesn't understand why someone so close to them has died and why she can't just get up and go on living. The actress, Emma Caulfield, did such an amazing job performing that scene that it always touches my heart. When you're thrown into a situation like this no one really knows why someone has died and why life has to even end. I still ask myself these questions to this very day. And something that is stated during this scene is how the character was drinking something and when they heard the mother died one of the things she thought was that the mother would never drink that drink again. I don't know about other people, but when someone close to me dies I always think about how there are certain things they'll never do again or see items they've left behind and how it might have been when they left it there. When my mother died our house was filled with stuff she had touched just the day before and it broke my heart.

It's the little things that were in the episode that made it very special. I think the episode spoke volumes to me because of my own personal situation, I'm not sure if it spoke to other people like this or not, but it is a very special episode to me and I personally think it's the greatest television episode ever made. Joss Whedon did such a wonderful job perfecting this episode in every way and the actors were so unbelievable at the same time.