So, Halloween, arguably the greatest holiday of the year, is approaching (or, depending upon when you're reading this, is today or recently passed), and what better time to discuss a couple of the best horror movies of all time?
In my last column I talked about the quintessential Halloween movie -- not a horror per se -- but a film that incorporates the two major aspects of the holiday: scares and candy.
But these two -- JAWS and HALLOWEEN -- are a couple of the greatest horror movies ever, and they have a surprising amount in common.
Both came out in the best decade for horror movies
With all due respect to Jason, Freddy, and all of those critters, ghoulies, and gremlins, the 70s was really the preeminent decade for horror flicks. THE EXORCIST, ALIEN, and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE are just a few of the great scary movies from the 70s.
Both were low budget
JAWS was made for an estimated $8 million, which perhaps wasn't really considered low budget in the mid-70s, but imagine someone making an all-time great movie for that nowadays. HALLOWEEN was made for a ridiculous $325,000.
Both were directed by masters
Steven Spielberg may be considered the greatest living director (if not the greatest of all time) and John Carpenter is one of the best as well. And even though these were done quite early in their careers, they are arguably the best films they've ever made.
Both have monsters who are barely seen
We hardly see the shark at all for most of the first half of the movie, and Michael Myers is really only glimpsed until the end. The films are terrifying due to amazing camera angles. This goes back to the masterful direction. And speaking of direction, the POV shots of Michael from behind a bush or in the car are brilliant, as are Spielberg's shots where the bottom half of the screen is submerged in water.
Both had sequels that paled in comparison
Now, JAWS 2 isn't horrible and the first bit of HALLOWEEN 2 (until they get to the hospital) is actually really good, but there's really no comparison to the originals. (And the less said about all of the subsequent sequels, the better.)
Both have incredible music
The scariest music in movie history might just be those two notes from JAWS. John Williams has crafted some amazing music, but that might be his masterpiece. And if that ditty is the scariest, perhaps the music from HALLOWEEN -- composed by John Carpenter -- is second on the list.
Both were groundbreaking
Has there ever been another killer shark movie even close to JAWS? And although HALLOWEEN spawned a countless amount of slasher movies (some of which have been pretty good), it's still the best.
Both are just as good 30-plus years later
The films are just as good and scary today as they were back then, and maybe even better when compared to the current crop of so-called horror movies.
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Thoughts, observations, conjectures, complaints about movies and mostly how they relate to me personally. If you're looking for something a little broader, try Ebert.
Born to write (literally – much to the displeasure of his mother, he emerged with a pencil clutched in one tiny fist), Tim spends most of his days crafting epic monosyllabic poems, new comical titles to his favorite Beatles' songs (Hey, Dude), and angry letters to local businesses that have wronged him in some way. He's really an okay guy once you get to know him.|
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