Independent films rarely have the success of the mega-budget flicks they compete against, but occasionally there are exceptions that surpass expectations and become box office hits. In 1978, John Carpenter did just that with Halloween by spinning a $325k budget into a flawed but iconic horror masterpiece collecting $47 million in ticket sales and spawning nine additional films with a 10th set to release later in 2018.
As a screenwriter and producer of low-budget films, I have an appreciation for this accomplishment. There are a variety of factors involved that either arise or aren’t thought about when preparing a budget. You improvise as best you can and cut corners to save money. That’s why I love Halloween and all it’s imperfections such as plot holes like why Michael Myers wants to kill Laurie Strode. Don’t forget we don’t they have the knowledge they’re siblings until the sequel so as a standalone his motive makes no sense. There are also editing gaffs or film flubs as some have called them which are continuity errors and also equipment can be seen in certain shots as well as smoke from John Carpenter’s cigarette, which admittedly he said resulted from him getting too close to the camera.
I can look past all of this, but there is one thing that bothers me and I can’t accept. After an amazing four-minute long opening shot from young Michael’s point of view (pre-mask/mask as he spies on his sexually active teenage sister and her boyfriend, then decides to murder her with a butcher knife) Carpenter cuts to a medium close-up shot of Michael’s father ripping off the clown mask of the child. The camera draws back from the scene and into a full crane shot for nearly 30 seconds. The shot is cinematically fine; my problem lies with the acting job of the parents, especially the mother, in this time frame.
As the camera pulls back, the parents lifelessly stand there looking at Michael. Thirty seconds on film is an eternity to watch without movement in a situation that would require much of it. The mother has no emotion, no response; she places her hands in her coat pockets, continuing to look unfazed, like she is waiting on the corner for a bus. I theorized that being a low budget film Carpenter may have just thrown anyone he could find in there to play the part. Considering it’s not a speaking role and there is no further use for this character during the rest of the film that is what I would have done to avoid paying another actors salary. After researching, I cannot find out who played the character. There is neither listing for the role on IMDb nor any info appearing after web searches. It seems like a mystery on who this stale, flat actress is, giving my theory some legs to stand on.
Craig Joseph Pisani is an avid moviegoer and aspiring screenwriter with Bachelor’s degrees in both Cinema and English.
What do you love/hate about the Halloween movie franchise? Let us know in the comments!