When I initially started doing the Cavalcade of Schlock, I didn't necessarily intend to only show craptastic movies. Rather, I'd hoped to show off crowd-pleasing movies made in the style of the Grindhouse/Drive-in. As time's gone by, we've become more focused on the bottom of the barrel, to be sure; but in the beginning we had 28 Days Later! Aliens! An American Werewolf in London! Each a modern classic, and each a successful screening.
So when it came time to do the Halloween event, my first thought was to screen another modern classic in the original Halloween. The first time I saw this movie, it scared the living hell out of me, and that was on video with a tiny television. When the film first came out in 1978, audiences were completely terrified, and they loved it. In many ways, Halloween kicked off the slasher-craze that went on through the 80's, and launched the careers of both the Director (John Carpenter) and the "last girl" (Jamie Lee Curtis)
You all know the story by now: Halloween night 1963, six-year-old Michael Myers (Will Sandin) murders his teenage sister Judith (Sandy Johnson) with a kitchen knife at their home in Haddonfield, Illinois-before being found by his mother and father in a trance-like state. Fifteen years later, he escapes the asylum, and heads back home to finish the job by killing Jamie Lee Curtis. Because...well, because of a fairly unbelievable plot-twist, that's why.
This film is filled to the brim with suspense. Unlike later slasher movies that would turn a lot of this movie's events and dialog into clichés by shamelessly lifting them, Halloween is not a splatter-fest with a body count in the dozens. Only people who get in Michael's way tend to suffer death most foul-well, and people who are related to him...or happen to be having pre-marital sex nearby. But other than that, you're fine. No, this film is all about Michael hunting his prey, hiding behind bushes, doors, or driving creepily slow down the street in a station wagon, and generally being...like an average paparazzo.
Yeah, exactly. Not the most exciting thing for a Cavalcade Event. Sadly, all of this "suspense" translates to "not a whole lot going on" when sitting around with a group of people charged and ready for action. It was at this event where we started to really learn what makes for a good "Cavalcade movie". Even when we jumped to the action-packed finale... it was more stalking in a dark house waiting for the killer to strike.
Being a fan of horror movies, I love the original Halloween. It's as creepy, scary, and intelligently put together as a horror movie can be, and is the perfect kind of scary movie to watch on a date. But for a rip-roaring party, it's just too slow-paced. For a movie to succeed here, it doesn't have to be bad, it just has to move.