Freak Show Forecast: Halloween (1978)

POSTED:: October 10, 2018


Freak Show Forecast: Halloween

by DJ Andy Turner

It’s very unlikely Gary Arnold will show up at the Friday Night Freak Show this week. The former Washington Post movie critic hated 1978’s Halloween with a capital “H” – calling it a “plodding exercise in sham apprehension … more proficient at torpor than terror.”

Arnold goes on to compare Jamie Lee Curtis (making her feature debut) to a “melancholy, ungainly young Lauren Bacall” and says director John Carpenter’s “techniques are so transparent and laborious that the result is attenuation rather than tension.” I bet if Arnold does show up, he’ll be the one carrying a thesaurus.

The peevish pundit’s delight at deriding Halloween notwithstanding, the movie, of course, went on to be staggeringly successful and profitable, provoking endless copycats, theme park theme nights, and sequels, including the enthusiastically anticipated David Gordon Green 2018 update.

Here are a few more heavy breathing exercises to get you ready for Friday’s showing:

  • While Arnold dismisses Carpenter’s celebrated Halloween score as “undernourished,” the director has been getting a fat paycheck from placement of “Halloween Theme” frequently across television and movies over the past 40 years, including The Simpsons, My Name is Earl, Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series: Season Zero, “The X Factor” and dozens more.
  • P.J. Soles returns to Friday Night Freak Show action in Halloween, where she pays a heavy (but perhaps warranted) price for refusing to study; you might remember her from her iconic role as Riff Randell from this summer’s showing of Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.
  • The company that produced Halloween, Compass International, did not make many more films under that name, changing its name to Trancas International Films in 1981, but it followed up Carpenter’s movie with the wonderfully weird Tourist Trap, starring Chuck Connors and currently showing on Shudder with the always fantastic Joe Bob Briggs providing curation.
  • The original Friday the 13th is frequently cited as a Halloween copycat and Carpenter is no fan of the 1980 film, telling Bret Easton Ellis on the author’s podcast in 2016 that Friday is a cynical movie that didn’t “rise above its cheapness.”
  • Finally, if you find yourself looking up the definition of torpor and like what you read, consider watching this afterward for a few hours.

Halloween is part of WMSE’s Friday Night Freak Show series on Friday, Oct. 12, at the Times Cinema, 5906 W. Vliet Street, Milwaukee. Into Battle DJ Jason spins at 8 p.m, and the movie starts at 9. There also will be a costume contest with great prizes from the Times and WMSE!


POSTED BY:: Sidney McCain

TAGGED::DJ Andy Turner, Friday Night Freak Show, Times Cinema