Walking home late tonight, I happened to pass Orange Grove Avenue, the street in Hollywood where the original 1978 Halloween movie was filmed. I decided to duck down the street and look at the houses; it’s remarkable how totally normal they look, not sinister in the least, even in the middle of the night.
Horror movies generally don’t scare me, which makes it much easier for me to watch them; the downside is I don’t get the same sort of joy so many other people get from them. I really do treasure the exceptions, which include The Exorcist, The Shining (Kubrick version, of course), and the ’78 Halloween.
Fun fact, from a book I strongly recommend for visitors to L.A who are interested in cinema history: People who have watched Halloween very closely say that in a few of the shots you can see palm trees — a giveaway, of course, that the location is SoCal, not the supposed Illinois. The original movie made so much money that they could film the sequels in more realistic locations. But it just goes to show how overrated big budgets and “realistic” effects are. The first movie had a shoestring budget, but John Carpenter had the skill to turn the super-ordinary neighborhood I visited tonight into a place of emotionally persuasive fear. CGI has its uses, but it can’t hold a candle to what a director who knows what he’s doing can accomplish with actors, on even the simplest of sets.