Carpenter Week: Halloween shows filmmaker’s brilliant tricks and treats


After Assault on Precinct 13 reinvigorates the siege film, John Carpenter changes the landscape of horror forever. It’s Halloween and HE’s coming home…

The Night He Came Home

After getting little attention from Assault on Precinct 13, mostly in the UK, John Carpenter is ready to move on. Carpenter’s Rio Bravo love letter does little to stir interest in the filmmaker stateside, with the University of Southern California graduate yearning to make his mark in the medium.

But after independent producer Irwin Yablans and Moustapha Akkad (eventual godfather of the series) see Assault at the Milan Film Festival, the future icon’s luck changes. And from then on, no one will ever forget the name John Carpenter again.

Halloween — Courtesy of Trancas International Pictures

The Birth Of The Boogyman

The film is Halloween. Originally “The Babysitter Murders” — changing after Yablan’s gets the idea to set the film on Halloween night randomly — the film tells a simple, yet unforgettable, tale of good vs evil and destruction of innocence dangling in between. It’s a movie breaking down ideologies that killers are made, not born. In Carpenter’s tale, the birth of some creatures is the day the world begins to burn.

After killing his sister, Michael Myers breaks out of Smith’s Grove sanitarium looking for more victims. With his psychiatrist tracking his every move, the then 21-year-old killer finds a new plaything in Laurie Strode. And if Dr. Loomis isn’t fast enough, Halloween will be the last holiday Strode ever see.

Made for only $300,000, with an extra $25,000 for Donald Pleasence, the film’s low on budget but high on concept, execution and sheer artistic brilliance. Written in only 10 days by Carpenter and producer/girlfriend Debra Hill, the experience is perfect in every way. With Carpenter again providing the score, the film sends chills down your spine the  first hearing that initial piano key — only settling hours after the film is over.

Death Comes To A Little Town

Halloween premieres in Kansas City on Oct. 25, 1978. Initially making little noise and seemingly another miss for Carpenter, it becomes the little film that could. Expanding into New York, Los Angeles and Pennsylvania, the film becomes a phenomenon. Grossing $70 million since it’s release, Halloween stands as one of the most successful independent films in history. In fact, it held the title for 12 years until the original Teenage Mutant Turtles knocked it off the throne. Not bad for a little movie from a virtually unknown filmmaker.

Everyone’s Entitle To One Good Movie

Since it’s release, Halloween has become arguably the most important film in the history of the medium. Every bit as groundbreaking and transformative as Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, Halloween almost solely created the horror boom of the ’80s. It’s one of, if not the most, imitated features in of the last 40 years. Lesser filmmakers have tried aping the Carpenter classic to little success. It still stand as a shining example of taking very little and making something truly grand. And in the end, it’s legacy will out live us all.

Carpenter Week continues all this week as 1428 Elm is only beginning our commemoration of the film legend. Don’t go anywhere because the tricks and treats are far from over,

Next: Carpenter Week: Assault on Precinct 13 begins career

Fan of Halloween? Agree that it’s John Carpenter’s best? Let the carpenter clan know what you think in the comment section below.