As Horror fans around the globe gear themselves up for the long-awaited release of John Carpenter’s ‘The Ward’ on January 21st , Front Row takes a nostalgic look at some of the past offerings, from the man who has been dubbed ‘The Master of Horror’
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasance, this is a film that is as synonymous with the horror genre as Katie Price is with silicone and even those less acquainted with horror films, are sure to be familiar with the force of evil that is the elusive bogeyman Michael Myers. From the infamous soundtrack, (almost on par in terms of creepiness, with Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells used in The Exorcist) to those moments when Michael is standing nonchalantly behind his next victim; Halloween is one of those rare horrors which still retains its ability to make audiences jump out of their seats, some thirty years later.
The film tells the story of Michael Myers, who aged just six years old, brutally stabbed his older sister to death. After spending fifteen years in a Psychiatric Ward, Myers somehow escapes and returns to his sleepy town to begin a new killing spree; this time praying on babysitters and horny teenagers.
Upon its release, Halloween grossed $60 million worldwide at the box office, making it one of the most profitable independent films ever made. In addition to its box office success, there have been numerous sequels and several remakes, including a 2007 offering from director Rob Zombie. The film is often credited with initiating the horror sub-genre of slasher movies made famous in the late 70s and early 80s. Halloween has undeniably influenced hundreds of horror films, many of whom have used the film’s theme of ‘teens-in-peril’. Such is the significance of Halloween, that in 2010, Total Film selected it as one of ‘The 100 Greatest Movies of All Time’.
Perhaps one of the most original horrors of all time, this film could have done for car salesmen what Joan Rivers did for plastic surgeons. Based on the novel by Stephen King, the film tells the tale of an anthropomorphic car named Christine who takes control of her owners. “An evil car??” you say- yes it’s a ridiculous premise, yes there are some rather implausible moments and poor continuity, but come on, who doesn’t love a good old killer -car film!!
Christine was certainly not the box office smash that Halloween was, nor is it regarded as highly in the realms of horror academia. It undoubtedly lacks the eeriness and unexpected jumps which were often present in Halloween, – but it does feature characters who have depth, some genuinely good acting and while it may not be as scary as other movies, it certainly makes you feel uneasy about going into the garage alone late at night!
Featuring the perhaps less than subtle tag-line; ‘What you can’t see won’t hurt you…It’ll kill you’, The Fog was Carpenter’s first feature film after the hugely successful Halloween. Not surprisingly the film is about- yes, you guessed it; killer fog. A Northern California fishing town, built 100 years ago over an old leper colony, is the target for revenge by a killer fog containing zombie-like ghosts seeking revenge for their deaths. While the townsfolk of Antonio Bay prepare for the centenary of their town, they are unaware that the victims of the crime that founded their town, are rising from the sea to claim retribution. Under the cover of the mysterious fog, the so called victims carry out their grisly attacks and the town is never the same again.
Despite being fairly well received by the critics and being relatively successful at the box office, The Fog never quite lived up to expectations and didn’t meet the high standards set by its predecessor, Halloween.