Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ask Me a Question: Halloween @ Beyond Fest

Beyond Fest keeps on kicking with no less than 3 screenings this past Wednesday night.  The centerpiece being a newly restored, 4K version of John Carpenter's seminal indie horror classic, Halloween!  Humans From Earth co-presented the festivities with Geoff Boucher on hand for the pre-film Q&A.  Another sold out crowd, we marked our territory in the balcony this time and hit neighboring Pig & Whistle for a couple of Jameson and Ginger Ales.  Since I had extra tix, I gifted them on some thankful dudes in the Stand-By line.  Inside, Death Waltz had even more vinyl for sale, including a re-mastered version of Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13 soundtrack.  As the theater quickly filled up, we were treated to some Beyond Fest pre-trailers that were awesomely hilarious.  One was a supercut of dummies filling in for humans falling or getting their heads chopped off.  The next was a riff on Queen's Another One Bites the Dust I believe with screams and handshakes filling in for the beat complete with Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell's epic high five over Teri Hatcher's head in Tango & Cash!  I nearly stood up and cheered.

American Cinematheque and BF programmer and creators Grant and Christian did some quick trivia and tossed out Halloween disks courtesy of Scream! Factory.  Boucher introduced Mr. Carpenter who introduced star Jamie Lee Curtis.  Apparently this is the first time the duo have ever attended a screening of the film together:

- 22 day schedule, $300,000 budget
- Curtis auditioned several times, liked Laurie's role because she got to do more than "be cute"
- Obtained entire wardrobe in one trip from J.C. Penny
- Curtis just remembers the film being fast and fun, young crew, everybody friends with someone else, for example Michael Myers was played by Carpenter's band mate in the Coupe DeVilles, Nick Castle, instead of a stuntman in later installments
- Carpenter didn't realize the film was doing well at first as it rolled out regionally with a few prints, by Christmas, knew it was cooking when some independent producers came to see him
- Most fun film Carpenter ever made as he was young, too dumb to know any better and hadn't been fucked over by the studios yet
- Doesn't mind remakes, it's just part of the deal, studios think audiences are too dumb to see anything original, of course he likes remakes that cut him a check VS ones studios own rights to
- Assault on Precinct 13, Carpenter could afford 1 day at a UCLA studio to create score, on Halloween could afford 3 days
- Curtis is very involved with charity, just got into conventions and made $150,000 in one weekend for her causes
- Auctioning off a replica of Michael Myers' bust signed by every member of the production team

The pair were very complimentary to each other, giving credit for inherent talent and future success.  Carpenter didn't drop his "gotta go see my drug dealer" line to close things out though.

I haven't seen Halloween since high school maybe when I got uber freaked out at a friends house due to all the windows someone could be looking at us through.  The great theme music starts things off in typical Carpenter fashion with credits over black screen, this time with a Jack-O-Lantern off to the side.  One night, young Michael Myers inexplicably stabs his sister to death.  15 years later, he's institutionalized and Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance, The Great Escape) wants to keep him there forever, knowing the boy is pure evil.  When Michael escapes, Loomis deduces that he's most likely headed back to his childhood home which has become the local haunted house but is about to be sold by Strode Realty.  Young Laurie Strode goes to the house to drop the key off and soon, she and her friends become Myers' prey as he stalks them over Halloween night.

While over 30 years old, the flick holds up pretty well.  It's pretty funny and dated due to it's low budget stature, mostly inexperienced cast and whatnot but the atmosphere, chills and scares are still there.  Myers is not portrayed as a man but a force of evil so you just take his Boogeyman quality and accept it.  Many a horror flick would take cues from the flicks structure, characters and traits as Halloween went on to spawn 7 sequels over the next 24 years and then a reboot in 2007 that received it's own sequel.  Can't say I've seen a single one though...

The Monster Squad and Snowpiercer next!

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