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Halloween (film series)


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Michael Myers
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« on: October 31, 2007, 02:52:50 pm »

Historian Nicholas Rogers notes that film critics contend that John Carpenter's direction and camera work made Halloween a "resounding success."[18] Roger Ebert remarks, "It's easy to create violence on the screen, but it's hard to do it well. Carpenter is uncannily skilled, for example, at the use of foregrounds in his compositions, and everyone who likes thrillers knows that foregrounds are crucial ...."[19]


The opening title, featuring a jack-o'-lantern placed against a black backdrop, sets the mood for the entire movie. The camera slowly focuses on one of the jack-o'-lantern's eyes while the main music for Halloween plays in the background. Film historian J.P. Telotte says that this scene "clearly announces that [the film's] primary concern will be with the way in which we see ourselves and others and the consequences that often attend our usual manner of perception."[20]

During the conception of the plot, Yablans instructed "that the audience shouldn't see anything. It should be what they thought they saw that frightens them."[9] Carpenter seemingly took Yablans's advice literally, filming many of the scenes from a Michael Myers point-of-view that allowed audience participation. Carpenter is not the first director to employ this method or use of a steadicam; for instance, the first scene of Psycho offers a voyeuristic look at lovers in a seedy hotel. Telotte argues, "As a result of this shift in perspective from a disembodied, narrative camera to an actual character's eye ... we are forced into a deeper sense of participation in the ensuing action."[21]

The first scene of the young Michael's voyeurism is followed by the murder of Judith Myers seen through the eye holes of Michael's clown costume mask. According to one commentator, Carpenter's "frequent use of the unmounted first-person camera to represent the killer's point of view ... invited [viewers] to adopt the murderer's assaultive gaze and to hear his heavy breathing and plodding footsteps as he stalked his prey."[22]

Another technique that Carpenter adapted from Hitchcock's Psycho and Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) was suspense with minimal blood and gore. Debra Hill comments, "We didn't want it to be gory. We wanted it to be like a jack-in-the box."[9] Film analysts refer to this as the "false startle" or "the old tap-on-the-shoulder routine" in which the stalkers, murderers, or monsters "lunge into our field of vision or creep up on a person."[23]

Carpenter worked with the cast to create the desired effect of terror and suspense. According to Jamie Lee Curtis, Carpenter created a "fear meter" because the film was shot out-of-sequence and she was not sure what her character's level of terror should be in certain scenes. "Here's about a 7, here's about a 6, and the scene we're going to shoot tonight is about a 9 1/2," remembered Curtis. She had different facial expressions and scream volumes for each level on the meter.[24]
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