Sunday, April 24, 2011

John Carpenter's Halloween

"The night HE came home..."

It opens with a single Steady-cam shot, unbroken, as we follow a pair of eyes, soon ensconced by a mask, up a set of stairs, on a horrible, compulsive path to family murders...

...oh, you may WANT to strangle them, sometimes, but the idea of family murder is still shocking, personal, and, from the viewpoint of a child, unspeakable. The shocked adults soon unmask an insane, confused six year old boy.

I caught Escape From L.A. the other night on HBO and found myself flipping through John Carpenter's movies via Wikipedia, where I uncovered facts well-known to fans, but forgotten by myself. Talk about murder in the family: do you realize Jamie Lee Curtis, the "Scream Queen," is the daughter of Janet Leigh---the star of Psycho?

Carpenter actually started his career with another cult classic, the much-higher budget Dark Star, which is not named after a Grateful Dead, but is a parody of science fiction at the time, particularly 2001: A Space Odyssey. His next film had been a crime-thriller, Assault On Precinct 13, shot on schedule and for a low budget, released in 1976. If you know the movie Rio Bravo by Howard Hawks, you will see its influence in the story. Its critical reassessment in Europe helped launch Carpenter's career, with one of the best exploitation-style movies of the decade. This was the first time he worked with Debra Hill, who would co-write many of his most memorable movies, including Halloween.

Producer Irwin Yablans suggested a movie about a baby-sitter stalker, and got Carpenter to direct. "Halloween night had never been the theme of a a film before," said Carpenter, who incorporated this, another Yablans suggestion, into his story. His musical ideas were inspired by Dante Argentino's Suspira as well as Friedkin's Excorcist, which featured the Michael Oldfield's "Tubular Bells". The anamorphic lens used to shoot widescreen pictures and the minimalist lighting characterize Carpenter's direction. The story featured a disturbed mental patient returning to his hometown after an escape, fifteen years after the murder of his older sister. For $320,000 Carpenter shot one of the most successful independent films of all time, grossing about $42 million domestically and about $65 million internationally the year it opened.

Moustapha Akkad financed the picture, based almost solely on Carpenter's penchant for telling the story in a highly-suspenseful way. He would finance many
Carpenter films before his death. Hill spent three weeks writing the script, basing the idea on the Druidic holiday of Samhain. Hill wrote most of the female characters' dialogue, while Carpenter wrote the famous "pure evil" speech and other lines for Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance). According to Wiki, Dr. Loomis' name was taken from Sam Loomis (John Gavin) of Psycho, the boyfriend of Marion Crane (Janet Leigh, who is the real-life mother of Jamie Lee Curtis).

In-season pumpkins are hard to find in the spring, and the crew also had to re-use dead leaves for many shots. It was filmed in 21 days in South Pasadena and Sierra Madre (cemetary), CA.

However many times I've read about Halloween, I didn't realize "The Shape" (Michael Myers) was played by another director! His name is Nick Castle, and as a friend he worked for $25 a day.

The first issue of our modern Southern Gothic comic, DNA #1, retails for $3.25. It's available for just fifty cents on download from MyEbooks, too! Its cover also doubles as the all-cotton black t-shirt's graphic!

C. Lue Disharoon
542 6th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101

shipping and handling, $1.25 each!

Meanwhile, our remaining t-shirts are available at Convention Special Price, for $12 each or 2 for $20, plus $3.00 for shipping & handling.
Below, you'll find many more sketches for our preview of Not Another Comic Book, due next month. Enjoy!

You can do the same over PayPal, at !!!

If you want any of these images on a shirt, write me at or on Facebook. Some designs will need to be made from scratch so it will be a couple of weeks. We will have painted renderings of some images, not the photos themselves, and new ones besides. Also look for Princess Sexy Jenn in Not Another Comic Book; she's very excited about becoming a comicbook character, and she's not alone.

AND!! You can use the button provided; the $15 will cover your postage.

D'n'A t-shirt #1


D'n'A t-shirt Puzzle pieces (girl and boy)

Castle went on to direct The Last Starfighter, The Boy Who Could Fly, Dennis the Menace, and one I know I've seen, Major Payne. Yes, Major Payne was directed by the guy in the coveralls and Halloween mask.

What about that mask? That was a Capt. Kirk mask bought for two dollars, repainted for the film, which also features a snippet of one song you know I love, "Don't Fear the Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult.

Safe to say, Halloween blows away most of the films it spawned in the slasher genre, including its own sequels, which are still, to me, a lot of fun to watch.

So I wonder what I'll talk about on Halloween. Maybe Born On the Fourth of July?

Halloween's preserved in the National Film Registry as a historically significant work.

Happy Easter, monster fans.

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