The Witching Hour Night Thirty-One: Halloween

Sometimes I feel that movie studio executives should be forced to watch Halloween as a reminder that an iconic and profitable movie does not require a budget exceeding 100 million dollars. Halloween went down in history as one of the most iconic horror films because of well timed scares, solid performances from the actors and the wisdom to refrain from over-developing the antagonist.

You really have to appreciate what John Carpenter pulled off with a shoestring budget of $300,000. If you really want to get right down to it, half of that was spent on Panavision cameras. Of the remaining $150,000, Donald Pleasance received $20,000 while Jamie Lee Curtis is said to have been paid about $8,000. The rest was divided between cast, crew, props and equipment. The budget was so low that the actors had to wear their own clothes and the crew reportedly spent less than $2 to buy a Captain Kirk mask which would be transformed into the soulless visage of Michael Meyers.

If it seems that I am harping too much on the film’s budget, it is only to stress the point that creativity and style go a long way to making a film and anyone who wants to make a movie should just make one with whatever resources they have available instead of worrying about having millions of dollars for a budget.

I had previously mentioned Carpenter’s sense of timing. While it may not be immediately obvious, the script was written with a radio serial in mind with a scare scene approximately every ten minutes. Another unusual trait of Halloween is that the infamous theme music was written with a 5/4 meter signature, meaning five beats per measure. Even if you are not consciously aware of that, your ears are likely unaccustomed to such a signature which is somewhat unsettling.

While I personally prefer horror films with a supernatural theme, Halloween is a classic slasher film – one that helped establish the genre – and is certainly worth watching during the spookiest of holidays.

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