During the silent film era, early filmmakers had to rely primarily on cinematography and mise-en-scène to establish setting and mood in order to engage the audience. Naturally, with the advancement of technology, films became more developed and complex, adding dialogue and making actors’ delivery and performances more important. But through all the developments of the film industry, one factor remains the same: a film must have great cinematography; and, a good cinematographer can make, or break, any film, especially on the independent circuit. John Carpenter knew this when gathering his crew for a small independent film titled Halloween, now historically preserved as one of the greatest films in history, and he chose a man who would end up changing not only his own career but Carpenter’s as well—that man is Dean Cundey.
From beginning to end, John Carpenter’s primitive Halloween (1978) introduced a vast amount of novel horror elements to the big screen. Not only did Carpenter’s monumental film ignite a later repetitive series of remakes, but it established the groundwork for the subgenre we know as the slasher film. The resultant sub-genre is corroborated through subsequent films of comparable structure and cinematographic elements such as Friday the 13th (1980) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). Being revered for its stalking characteristics, the pith of Halloween’s progressive escalation revolves around Michael Myers (Tony Moran) slow, sociopathic approach to his prospective victims. Carpenter underscores Myers’ approach through multiple point-of-view shots, leitmotifs and long shots of Michael silently watching the protagonist, Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), from afar. Through these rudimentary but meticulous film implements, Carpenter delivers a grasping, trendsetting film operating on a highly restricted budget of just $325,000.
One outstanding convention of Halloween is the film’s ability to cross boundaries as displayed in the first scene where the viewer is placed into the perspective of the killer, young Michael, using Carpenter’s famous I-camera. As we enter the first scene, the viewer is subjected to a long take through a point-of-view shot using a handheld camera. Consequently, we are immersed in young Michael’s perspective as he slowly creeps around the outside and inside of his home where he witnesses sexual relations between his sister and her presumed boyfriend. Carpenter personalizes the historic cinematography of the scene even further as Michael puts on a mask altering our perspective to the mask’s two eyeholes in opposition to the full field of view. The gradual transition proves to be a guileful method ultimately straying from traditional horror by aligning the viewer with our soon revealed killer. By the end of the scene, Carpenter has both introduced an unorthodox element of horror while displaying an example of intertextuality by echoing Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) through the scene’s implicit knife killing.
Boo! It’s Halloween, and that means that Jake and I have chosen some scary songs to fill up our special horror-themed playlist.
And let me tell you, it’s hard to pick 10 songs that are in the spirit of Halloween (especially when trying to stray from picking the same tracks from last year’s Halloween entry). But through the inclusion of horror film/TV/videogame soundtracks as well as Halloween staples, we’ve stitched together a playlist that Dr. Frankenstein surely would be proud of.
Highlighted in the 20 songs this week are cuts from John Carpenter, Dead Man’s Bones,
— Michael Slain, Blog Editor
This week’s artists include John Carpenter, Queens of the Stone Age, Michael Jackson, and Kanye West.
We here at the Jet Fuel Review hope you enjoy your Halloween!
— Michael Lane, Blog Editor
There’s no particular theme for this week’s playlist. Instead, it’s just a bunch of songs that Jake and I happen to enjoy, and we hope you will, too.
This week’s Jukebox includes tracks from Kelly Clarkson, John Carpenter (yes, the director of Halloween), and Sam Smith.
— Michael Lane, Blog Editor