Is ‘Halloween’ Still Scary 35 Years Later?
Jamie Lee Curtis in John Carpenter's "Halloween" (Photo Credit: Everett Collection)
We showed the film to 10 Millennials for the first time.
John Carpenter's "Halloween" changed the rules of horror filmmaking when it was released 35 years ago today, taking cues from Hitchcock's "Psycho" and shaping the "slasher" movie as we now know it.
The film about masked killer Michael Myers's holiday rampage in a sleepy Illinois suburb is recognized as bona fide classic, and generally considered one of the most frightening movies of all time. Of course, the voting body for many of the lists that "Halloween" (which Anchor Bay is celebrating with a 35th anniversary Blu-ray) tops remembers when the film opened in theaters, or discovered it on VHS in the '80s or on DVD in the '90s.
What about for younger generations who have witnessed horror's dramatic evolution in the decades since? Do the film's shock tactics still work on an audience accustomed to more advanced effects, bloodier, gorier murders, and more sadistically deranged "torture porn" villains? Just how much as the film "aged" since its 1978 release? Simply put, does it still hold up today?
We showed the film to a group of 10 college-aged viewers from around the country who had never seen Carpenter's original before, and then compiled their reactions on the film.
The general consensus? "Halloween" just didn't do it for most of our Millennial subjects in the scare department. In response to an overarching question asking to rate the film's "scariness" on a scale of 1-10, the film registered a meager 5.4 rating. The highest single rating it got? A 7.5. The lowest, a 2.
"It was extremely corny," said Ryan Eclarin, a senior English major at UCLA. "I found it immensely more comical than scary."
Jason Serio, 21, a business major at Glendale Community College, echoed Eclarin's sentiments that the film is unintentionally funny. "It was one of the LOL-worthiest movies I have seen in a while."
Am I supposed to be creeped out? I keep hearing the score, and I know he's following her... but, come on now. #Halloween78
— Donnie Iorio (@donnieiorio) October 18, 2013
"Honestly, it didn't scare me," said Savannah Walker, a University of South Carolina student. "I wasn't startled by any of it."
Others disagreed. "I didn't find the thrill to be 'old' at all," said New York University student (and Yahoo intern) Erin Kim. "Sure the outfits were a little dated, but the fear was still there. I found myself gasping a lot."
"I definitely screamed more times than I'd like to admit," said South Carolina senior William Pettipone, who qualified his responses by saying he scares easy, even watching M. Night Shyamalan's much-maligned "Lady in the Water" ("that should tell you something"). He continued, "The suspense is timeless. Alfred Hitchcock has proven that in my book, and it held true in this film."
Caitlin Rowles, 20, found it "mildly" scary. "I definitely shrieked like a little girl at times," said the 20-year-old NYU global food policy major. "But I didn't leave afraid to go to bed, or babysit."
"There were parts in the beginning that were scary, and certain surprises in the film that were scary, but for the most part it got redundant," said Ritu Ghiya, a 19-year-old NYU junior. "The film didn't stick with me after I watched it."