“You’re not seriously watching this movie again.”
It’s the same conversation every year. “Yes, I’m watching Halloween again. Halloween 2, actually. I’m so excited. They never show Halloween 2.”
He doesn’t care. “It’s 7:30 in the morning.”
My husband can’t stand horror movies. He thinks they’re ridiculous and not at all entertaining. I keep telling him they’re not real, they just feel real, unless you’re a sociopath or possibly Stephen King. Nothing seems to get to that guy. Maybe he had parents like mine, who let me watch pretty much every age-inappropriate movie ever made by the time I was 12. It was weirdly permissive of them considering they wouldn’t even let me get my ears pierced. Normally I would applaud their parenting style, but letting a 12-year-old girl watch Midnight Express might be crossing some kind of line. Meanwhile, my husband told me the other day he’s never seen Rosemary’s Baby and had no idea it was about a chick who gets knocked up by Satan. And all I could think was, my god, who raised you.
Things were different in the 70’s. Back then you could sit there licking a pencil and literally nobody would care. There were no video games or cell phones to keep you busy, just Pong and ABC After School Specials. It was like being parented by Jodie Foster and the guy from James at 16. Lawn darts would stab you, metal swings rusted, fireworks burned. No matter how many times you ate shit on your bike you were never made to wear a helmet or even shoes. You just kept getting stitches. Even the most leisurely activity could kill you, like when my dad would take the family on Sunday drives, my brother and me crammed, seatbeltless, in the back of his yellow Ford Thunderbird, and smoke. With the windows rolled up. This was after years spent inhaling crap like Rubber Cement and Super Elastic Bubble Plastic, the chemically drenched Wham-O toy made of a multicolored goo so toxic its fumes could put you in an actual coma. No one even knew where you were half the time. I’m surprised I’m still alive.
I was 11 years old the year Halloween came out, and tragically normal. I know kids today do stuff like wear makeup and drink coffee but that sort of thing would never fly in the 70’s. It’s certainly not what a Breck girl would do. I know this because of the sheer volume of TV I watched, and when you have exactly seven (← not a typo) TV channels and no DVR you end up seeing a lot of commercials. Luckily we also had ON-TV, the 70’s version of cable that showed uncut, R-rated movies for you to watch in your own house. It was amazing. I think I was more stoked about ON-TV than I was when they invented the internet. Friends may have had pools, but I got to sit at home watching scary movies about sexy, doomed teens. (I always wonder what their mothers must think. Hi Joyce, guess what? Megan has an audition for the new Scream movie! She’s going to play a slutty cheerleader who dies in a meat grinder accident!) Even now, 70’s horror is terrifying. If the 60’s were like, “man, Psycho was frightening,” the 70’s would be all, “um, THE EXORCIST.” Then the 70’s would crack you open a Dr. Pepper, wrap you in a crocheted blanket in the colors brown and burnt orange and patiently explain what Regan was talking about when she said, “your mother sucks cocks in hell.” This is the point where you have officially lost all innocence. (Sorry. But that’s what she said.)
Halloween is truly scary. Halloween is so scary Jamie Lee Curtis won’t even watch it. Every horror movie that came after it wishes it were Halloween, including Prom Night and Terror Train, two other slasher movies Jamie Lee starred in and probably never watched. Not that I hold it against her. I’ve always insanely loved Jamie Lee, long before people started telling me I look like her. I think I’ve been told more times in life I look like Jamie Lee Curtis than I’ve been told I look like my own mother. Interestingly, we were both born in Santa Monica, so I’m thinking we could be long lost sisters. I actually met her once, and a) yes, I was freaking out, and b) I was dying to tell her all this. But I didn’t. One day. #Sissies.
I know every word of Halloween. I could probably recreate the entire script from memory. Unfortunately I can’t say the same about the sequels, most of which I’ve never seen because I had no desire. Had I thought of it, I would have found out where in L.A. they were filming one of the Halloweens and tried to crash the set. Instead I’ve had to settle for driving by old locations, like the house here in L.A. where Michael Myers falls backwards off the balcony and then disappears. I’ve gone by it many times, hoping to spot an obliging owner who would allow me in so I could get in the closet and take selfies of me fake stabbing someone with a coat hanger. A Halloween fan?? How unusual, and not at all annoying! Please come in, and has anyone ever mentioned you look like Jamie Lee Curtis? I feel kind of bad for whoever owns it. It would be like living in the Brady Bunch house, which I’ve also driven by many times and there are always people out there.
Virginia Woolf wrote, “the past is beautiful because one never realizes an emotion at the time.” I don’t remember the first time I saw Halloween, and it doesn’t matter. Watching it as a kid wouldn’t be the same as watching it now. The music, the mask, the 1978-ness of it all, everything about it says to me, you were young once, and it fucking ruled. You know the feeling. It’s the reason you listen to certain songs or take certain streets. Maybe there’s a place you’ve always loved going, or a scent you can’t explain except to say, it smells like happiness. Or maybe there’s something about yourself only you know, something you’ve never told anyone. Whatever it is, think of that one thing and know it’s all in there—the past, the world according to you and what you regard as special. Who cares if that thing is scary as fuck and your husband is being a total baby about it. Maybe it’s something nobody else gets, which is fine. They’re not supposed to. Realize now how beautiful that one thing is, because it’s yours.
Halloween Ends comes out in October. Jamie Lee Curtis says it’ll be her last time playing Laurie Strode. That’s right, no mas. This is for her, the original Scream Queen and my possible sister from another mister: my summary of Halloween, the long version. I wanted to write about the sequels too, but since most of them suck I only did Halloween II and Rob Zombie’s Halloween. And if you’re wondering why anyone would do this, I’ll just say there’s a lot of heinous crap going on in the world right now and this is how I deal with it. I once took the whole month of October and wrote about a different scary movie every day just for the hell of it (see Horrorpalooza), so you can imagine how fired up I am now. So here we go, starting with 1978’s Halloween. It was the first, an amazing first in a time of so many firsts for me, a barely supervised, preteen horror freak from West L.A. who now watches slasher movies just to be 12 again.
I know it’s not real. But it feels real.
And that’s all that matters. 🔪🖤
Read Halloween (1978)
Read Halloween II (1981)
Read Halloween (2007)