25 Nov 2013


John Carpenter's 1978 film Halloween considered important in bringing the Slasher film to public attention and has the first appearance of many of the genres tropes.  It may have established some of the rules, but did it follow them?

The following may include spoilers for
Halloween (1978)

This is not a review of the film, but an exploration of how well it follows film rules.  The film rules being tested here are from: The Slasher Film Rules.

Halloween is a slasher film (literally in many cases).  It is set in a normal surburban environment rather than an isolated place allowing a range of victims, but mostly only Laurie and her friends are targeted.

Laurie Strode - Final Girl.
Dr Sam Loomis - Protector.
Tommy Doyle - Child survivor.
Lindsey - Child survivor.
Judith Myers - First Victim (1963)
Unknown mechanic from Phelps Garage - Second victim.
Annie Brackett - Third victim.
Bob - Fourth victim.
Lynda - Fifth victim.
Michael Myers - The Killer

Rule #1 - A Warning Will Come From...

A:  Local Legends - The house of has been abandoned and is considered haunted by the local kids.

E:  Children -  Tommy's obsession with the boogie-man.

Loomis also provides a warning of sorts.  He is attempting to thwart the release of Michael (although he escapes anyway).  He also warns the authorities but counsels against broadcasting of a warning to the public.  So while he provides a warning, he doesn't do so to our main characters.

Rule #2 - There Will Be T&A

Three women appear topless in the film (one only from the back).

Rule #3 - Death Will Be A Punishment For...

Judith's boyfriend leaves her bedroom.
A: Sex - Three of the victims were killed immediately after having sex and another was on her way to have sex.  However, Judith's boyfriend did have sex and survive.
Laurie, the final girl, being shy did not have sex and got upset when someone was asked to take her to the dance.  Writers John Carpenter and Debra Hill claim not to have been creating a rule or punishing those having sex but rather the others were too busy thinking about sex to notice the danger.  [3/4]

B:  Nudity - The hit rate for nudity was much better all three women who took their shirts off were killed.  [3/3]

Final Girl, Laurie, with drugs.
C:  Drink - Lynda and Bob have beers in the car before going inside for sex.  [2/2]

D:  Drugs - Laurie smoked and survived.  Annie, who supplied and also smoked was later killed.  It should be noted that "good girl" Laurie panicked when they saw Annie's policeman father, but Annie was cool about it.  [1/2]

H:  Bystander - The driver of the Phelps Garage vehicle was killed for his clothes.  There is no sign that he was killed for any other reason (although he did have a matchbook from a pub or club).

Rule #4 - Never Go...

B:  Upstairs - Lynda and Bob go upstairs for sex, later Bob is killed after going downstairs and Lynda is killed while still upstairs.  Laurie goes upstairs twice.  Once when she suspects something is wrong and discovers Annie, Lynda and Bob's bodies and again (when she thinks that Michael is dead) to check on Tommy and Lindsey, she does become trapped upstairs.  She is attacked both times.  Tommy and Lindsey are also upstairs when Laurie is upstairs being attacked.  Since none of these characters are "chased" upstairs, I'm going to rate this as not applicable.

D:  Out-building - Without knowing there is danger Annie goes into an outbuilding (laundry) by herself and scantily dressed.  She is endangered at the time (without knowing it), but killed much later.

F:  Anywhere alone - Many characters wander around the alone before they really know that there is a threat.  Non-victims Loomis and Annie's father survive.  All the victims are alone when killed, but unaware they are in danger.  Laurie spends a lot of time alone.  But most of this is done before they are aware of danger, when being chased or after they think the killer is dead.  Once again, I'm going to NA it.

Laurie goes for help
G:  Anywhere remote - Haddonfield is not a remote location, however, when she goes to neighbours for help, Laurie gets none.

Note:  Not on the original list - Abandoned or "haunted" buildings or houses with a history.  The Myer's house was entered, at night, by Loomis and Annie's father.  Both survived.

Rule #5 - Order of Death...
First characters on screen.

A:  The first person on screen -  Michael's sister and her boyfriend are the first two characters to appear on screen, and appear simultaneously.  Michael's sister is the first character killed.

B:  The Black Man dies First - there are no minority characters in the film.

C:  The Stoner - Although not a stoner, Annie does smoke.

D:  The Bimbo - Judith, Annie & Lynda are all sexually active females.  Annie & Lynda show an obsession with sex and a lack of interest in education.

F:  The Macho Jerk - Lynda's boyfriend Bob.  Even shows an interest in ripping off Lindsey (the young girl)'s clothes.

G:  The Protector - Loomis appears at the end as the protector and survives.

I:  Children and animals - A dog dies early, but children survive.

J:  Final girl - survives.

The final order of death was:
  1. Judith [A & D]
  2. Unknown mechanic [for clothes] 
  3. Annie [C & D]
  4. Bob [F]
  5. Lynda [D]
* A dog is killed between #2 & 3.

Rule #6 - Especially When They Are Most Needed, The Following Things Cannot Be Relied On…

D:  You own legs - Once being chased from the ... to the Doyle house by Michael, Laurie had trouble staying on her feet.  Too be fair, though, she'd just had an inexplicably non-fatal fall down a stairwell.

E:  The authorities - Loomis was trying to stop Michael being released, but the asylum let him escape.  The police were easily convinced by Loomis not to issue a warning.  Annie ended up dead, her father was the main policeman we see (failed authority on two levels).

F:  Weapons - There were no weapon fails.

G:  Escape Routes - Michael was careful to block many doors, causing issues escaping.

Rule #7 - The Final Girl

Laurie Strode is the final girl.

A:  Final - There are a number of survivors, Laurie, Loomis and the two kids (as per rule 5).  Laurie does manage to distract Michael to allow the kids to escape, leaving her the final potential victim.

B:  Girl - Yes, unless you believe the rumours about Jamie Lee Curtis but even then there's no reason to apply it to the character.

C:  Boyish - Laurie is a girl's name (a variant Laura) but also exists as a boys name (a variant of Lawrence), while the female victim friends all have feminine names (Judith, Annie & Lynda).  Laurie's figure, style of dress and hair may be slightly less feminine than her friends (shirt and jeans vs blouse and pants) but really comes down to hair splitting.

D:  Well-drawn - Laurie is more studious than the others and is also the one who notices (or thinks she notices) something's going on.  She shows some strength, briefly, when she finds and knitting needle and attempts to kill Michael with it.  She has no past, dark or otherwise that is mentioned in this film.

E:  Virginal & innocent - Laurie seems to be a virgin; even the idea of dating panics her.  However, as mentioned above she does smoke weed.

F:  Will be reborn - brief moments of being reborn, followed by continued weakness.

Rule #8 - The Killer has a connection to...

Michael Myers is the killer.

A:  The Location - Haddonfield, where he grew up and especially the house he lived and made his first kill.

B:   The Final Girl - no real connection, father is a real estate agent trying to sell the Myer house, and is the first person (we know of) that he saw from the house.

C:   The Protector - Sam Loomis was Michael's psychiatrist for 16 years.

Michael Myers.
D:   The Other Victims - Michael's sister was his first victim.

E:   Femininity - There is nothing noticeably feminine about the Michael character (although writer/producer Debra Hill's hands for his POV shots as a child).

F:   A Specific Look - Michael steals and wears a plain Halloween mask (of William Shatner) and a mechanic's overalls.

G:   A Specific Weapon - Michael uses a knife in his kills (Judith), otherwise he uses strangulation (the dog, Lynda) or strangles the victim into submission and then uses a knife of them (Annie, Bob)

Rule #9 - Evil Never Dies...
Michael Myers.

A:  Kill the bad guy twice - More, actually.  Laurie stabbed Michael leaving him for dead.  Then when he returned, she stabbed him in the face and torso causing him to fall to the floor and lay still.  However, soon after he rose again.

B:  The bad guy lives again - Finally, Michael was shot up to six times and fell out a second story window.  His body still managed to disappear.

C:  Forever - Michael Myers is not yet undead or immortal in this film, although he was seemingly unstoppable.

Rule #10 - The Sequel Will Be Bigger/More Formulaic

This is the first film in a series, however, for future reference the following should be noted:

A:  They will follow the rules more - This was a early film, actually creating some of the rules.  (See results)
B:   They will be more formulaic - As the first film in a series, no real series formula exists to follow or break.
C:  There will be more T&A - This film included 2 sets of breasts and a topless female seen from behind.  One sex scene (mostly covered by sheets) is shown, and another occurs off-screen.
D:  More and bigger deaths - Michael Myers killed 5 victims (6 with a dog), one occurring on-screen and the death of the dog partially off-screen.  A little blood is shown, most wounds are shown post mortum (the mechanic) or survivable (like on Laurie).
E:  Bigger death of killer - Michael was shot 6 times and fell from a window.


The following rules were followed in this film:
  • Rule 1 (A Warning)
  • Rule 2 (T&A)
  • Rule 3b (Punishment for Nudity)
  • Rule 3c (Punishment for Drinking)
  • Rule 5d (Bimbo) - the 1st, 3rd and 5th victims were sexually active females.
  • Rule 5g (The Protector) - Survived, "killed" killer.
  • Rule 5j (Final girl) - survived, fought but did not "kill" killer.
  • Rule 6a (Communication) - When Laurie got back to the Doyle's the phone wouldn't work.
  • Rule 6d (Running)
  • Rule 6e (Authorities)
  • Rule 6g (Escape routes)
  • Rule 7a (Final)
  • Rule 7b (Girl)
  • Rule 7d (Well drawn)
  • Rule 7f (Reborn)
  • Rule 8a (Location)
  • Rule 8c (The Protector) - long term psycharist/patient connection.
  • Rule 8f (Look) - mask.
  • Rule 8g (Weapon) - large knife.
  • Rule 9a (Kill twice)
  • Rule 9b (Lives on)

The following rules were only partially followed in this film:
  • Rule 3a (Punishment for Sex) - 3 out of 4 people who had sex survived (2/2 who had sex on screen)
  • Rule 3d (Punishment for Drugs) - 1 out of 2 people who smoked pot survived.
  • Rule 3h (Bystander) - Which negates the premise of Rule #3.
  • Rule 5a (First on screen/First to die) - 1 out of 2 of the people who appeared first on screen died, but that person was the first to die.
  • Rule 5c (Stoner) - no sign of heavy use, but the 3rd person to die did smoke (however, see 3d)
  • Rule 5f (Jerk) - the 4th death was a jerk.
  • Rule 5i (Children & animals) - Children survived, animal died.
  • Rule 7c (Boyish)
  • Rule 7e (Innocent) - certainly virginal, but did smoke drugs.

The following rules were not followed:

  • Rule 6f (Weapons) - they were fine.
  • Rule 8b (Final Girl) - no (or a very weak) connection to killer.
  • Rule 8e (Feminitiy) - none.

The following rules were not applicable:

  • Rule 3e (Hitchhiking)
  • Rule 3f (Other criminal behaviour)
  • Rule 3g (Annoying)
  • Rule 4 (Don't go...) - either doesn't happen or not in the spirit of the rule.
  • Rule 6b (Lighting)
  • Rule 6c (Vehicles)
  • Rule 5b (Black man dies first) - No minority characters.
  • Rule 5e (Nerdy/funny) - No nerdy/funny guys.
  • Rule 5h (Sensitive guy) - No sensitive guys.
  • Rule 9c (Lives forever) - Character is not immortal or undead.
  • Rule 10 (Sequels) - First film in a series

~ DUG.

No comments:

Post a Comment