This is the final installment to Introductions to Horror, where we take a look at four films containing introductions that are not only brilliant, but also helped launched an entire franchise. First, we realized there may be reasons to fear one's dreams in A Nightmare on Elm Street. Then we learned not only to be wary of phone calls, but that advertisements can be deceptive (in a good way) in Scream. Last week, we shifted to a slower paced opening scene in Alien, wherein a spaceship comes back online from cryo-sleep (the crew might wish they never woke up when they did).
This week, we turn to, in my opinion, one of the ultimate opening for any franchise. A movie that not only shows you the first on screen kill, but does so through the eyes of the pint-sized killer.
John Carpenter, as you know from previous posts (Casual Cosplay, Fall Edition: Snake Plissken, Favorite Snow Scenes: The Thing, *Spoiler Alert*, He Doesn't Get The Girl), is one of my favorite directors. It should be no surprise then, that one of my top favorite horror films is the class, Halloween. There are many sequels and remakes, but the classic for me always stands true.
There are many reasons this film is a stand out: the music, the way it was shot, a great cast, and, of course, a quiet, slow moving killer with a mask. Michael Myers is a boogieman, always lurking in the shadows, striking when the time is right. In the opening scene of the film, we see this is something he possessed (spoiler alert) when he was a small child.
The first four minutes of the film are filmed from a voyeuristic perspective. We know it is Halloween (which we know first and foremost thanks to the perfectly placed jack-o-lantern) as the person walks around a house to peer into the living room where a teenage girl is with her boyfriend. The pacing is slow and steady, with hints to the voyeur's identity when the hand reaches for a kitchen knife, and again when we see a hand reach for a clown mask. The person waits until Judith Myers is alone ("the boyfriend" did not stick around long). When the person puts the mask on, we go from full vision to only two eye slits. When Judith is startled by her intruder, she doesn't seem to notice the knife, but is more annoyed that the person has seen her naked. Unlike slasher films to follow, the nudity here is vulnerability instead of pornographic. She goes to cover herself up and that is when the killer strikes.
When the killer runs out the front door, his father pulls of his mask to reveal it is 6-year old Michael Myers dressed in a clown costume. His parents do not touch him. There is no comfort. They are frozen at seeing their son with a knife and a vacant expression.
That is how you do a horror intro!
You can find the full clip below. I hope this series has inspired you to appreciate the opening scenes, not just horror films, but all films. Opening scenes are introductions to standalone films and franchises. They set the tone, whether funny, sad, horrific, etc, and can either pull you in or push you away. They establish the story and are equally important as the climax or ending. In the horror world, they are extremely important and, as proven with this series, can launch a franchise.