I have wanted to introduce something like this on the site for a little while now. It’s not a particularly novel idea or anything but I thought it would make for a good read, comparing and contrasting two similar films. The title is pretty self-explanatory, I’m sure we all remember completing countless Venn diagrams in school. If you’re not aware, a Venn diagram is a diagram used to compare to items: visually, two circles are next to each other with some overlap. The outside space of the two circles represent the two items individual traits while the center overlap lists the similar characteristics.
Halloween (1978) Directed by John Carpenter. Starring: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis and Tony Moran.
- This film provides us with the introduction to Michael Myers. Although the character is only credited in this film as “The Shape”, his plain jump suit, matted hair and emotionally devoid mask create a character beyond chilling. The mask is actually a modified William Shatner mask, but you can’t tell by looking at it.
- Michael is given little backstory in the film other than a few explanations for his former therapist. He is meant to be symbolic to the audience. This creates a real sense of fear for viewers because they can relate in any number of ways to what evil lives inside of him. There is something very terrifying about the unknown. Killing without reason is hard to comprehend so it’s even harder to understand how to overcome the malevolent force.
- Myers is described as ‘purely and simply evil.’ John Carpenter and co-writer Debra Hill started the story with an idea that you just couldn’t kill pure evil. So the Michael character becomes an icon, standing for something more than a psychopath. He is untreatable, unrelenting and completely unstoppable. Sequels focus a lot on making a point that Myers won’t die but this original tale sets up the legend.
- The movie is very atmospheric, relying on music, visual scene composition (in the background and foreground) and perspective camera work to set the suspense of the film. The film’s main musical theme is beyond iconic at this point, the simple piano tune consisting of only a few notes, works just as well today as it did during the films first run. Also deploying the use of layered scenes added to the film’s impending feeling of terror. Often there are shots from a distance, only displaying Michael’s character partially. The audience knows he is out of place and is scared to see what happens when he appears closer. In the same vein, the movie uses camerawork from the killer’s point of view, making the audience feel like a voyeur of the gruesome events.
- First off, Zombie is aware that we know Myers just as well as he does. So his intentions with the film are to craft a different story for the character. In this film, most of the characters are more developed than in the original. We spend tons of time with young Michael at home and school, then later in the institution. We’re essentially given a backstory for the makings of a serial killer. Myers is now much more than just pure evil. He is a troubled child that had one too many things working against him – a perfect example of the worst mix of nature and nurture.
- We see in detail the relationship young Michael had with his family and therapist growing up. He is abused at home by everyone but his mother, bullied at school by peers and also has an unhealthy obsession with killing small animals. He shows kindness to his mother and baby sister, but rage builds. The kills are amplified in this universe as he beats and slashes a bully, his stepdad, his sister and her boyfriend. This is his snapping point he never recovers from. He grows more volatile and hides his face under handmade masks.
- Also in Rob Zombie’s version of the story, the legend is addressed from a ‘what if’ stand point. The mystique of the original ‘Shape’ character is gone. The film completely lifts the veil and let’s you into the character. There are answers for most of the previous film’s ambiguities. For instance, why he wears the mask, his brute strength, and his reason for murder.
- The most diametrical aspect of the 2007 film is the style. Scares and tension are presented through heavy gore and violence. The camerawork is unflinching and much more gritty than before. Zombie conveys a vastly different tale by trading in ominous atmosphere for in your face bloodshed.
SO, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE HALLOWEEN FILMS? DO YOU DISMISS THE REMAKE AS GARBAGE OR ENJOY IT AS A FRESH TAKE ON AN OLD STORY?