John Carpenter’s Halloween is one of the best slashers ever made. You know it. I know it. Had the movie never been made… well you wouldn’t be reading this site. And the fact that you’re here indicates that you probably have a fairly deep understanding of the film. You know that, despite having very little blood, it’s a masterwork of suspense. You’re aware of the fact that it spawned not only its own franchise, but the Friday The 13th franchise as well. It paved the way for John Carpenter to make classics like The Thing, Big Trouble In Little China and Escape From New York. It’s pretty damn good.
The gentleman who wrote this piece for Yahoo understands that. Yet I’m dubious of the results of the poll they conducted in which they screened the film for 10 college students and found that it registered a 5.4 on a “1-10 scariness scale.” The thesis of the piece seems to be that the film has aged poorly. I disagree. But my biggest question is, “why are you asking THESE people?”
First of all, out of a random group of people – there’s going to be a few who don’t like the movie you’re screening for them. No matter what. If you showed Iron Man 3 – one of this summer’s biggest hits and a movie I really liked – to 10 people I would expect at least 4 of them to think that it’s dumb. But hey, I can kind of see their point (even if I personally love it). It’s not a classic, so let’s up the ante. If you showed Citizen Kane or Casablanca – two of the best films ever made – to a random group of 10 people, I imagine a lot of them would have problems with those films being shot in black and white. And I guarantee you at least one of those folks would think the Rosebud stuff was “LOL worthy.”
The question is – is it worth listening to those people? I mean, I guess everyone’s voice “counts” but why are we giving credence to the willfully ignorant? I chose the examples above specifically because they’re very mainstream. One of them was recently quite popular and the other two have withstood decades of conversation. When you get to horror, it gets even trickier. Some people flat out aren’t receptive to the genre.
And in the case of some of these folks, a lot of them are just flat out stupid. The piece cites an English Major at UCLA as saying “It was extremely corny. I found it immensely more comical than scary.” A business major declared, ““It was one of the LOL-worthiest movies I have seen in a while.” They find one guy who “definitely screamed more times than I’d like to admit“, only to neuter his opinion by revealing he also gets frightened while watching Lady In The Water.
Ultimately the thesis of the piece sort of unravels since a few of the test subjects admitted to liking, and being scared by, the film. But yes, if you give any movie to a bunch of people who have no predisposition towards enjoying it (and who seem to be tweeting while watching it) – then yeah, a few of them might not like it. We’re also talking about a sample group who found the 2006 version of The Omen to be “scarier.”
So what’s the takeaway here? As far as I can tell there isn’t one unless it’s to make us worry about the younger generation’s ability to absorb any sort of culture created before they were born.
But I don’t even think that’s true. I just think that a lot of the people who were willing to sign up for this were inherently ignorant. But I want to hear from millenials who actually like horror (if you’re here, I’m assuming you do). If you were born after 1990, tell me how you REALLY feel about Halloween.