This is the fourth year I’ve done the Halloween horror marathon. I can’t believe I’ve never touched on Night of the Creeps. Looking back, it was on the docket for 2010, but somehow, I never made it to it. I’m not sure as to how that never happened, given that I’ve owned the DVD for the entire time I’ve been doing this cavalcade of creepiness.
Anyhow — this is Tom Atkins‘ finest hour. As Ray Cameron, he’s a hard-bitten detective. All cigarettes and quips, I could watch a series of movies with this character. His best line in the film is so iconic, they used it on the goddamned poster. And that’s before you’ve even gotten to “Thrill me.” Sure, Jason Lively as Chris is the “star” of the film, but anybody who’s ever seen this remembers Ray long after the rest of the characters have faded from memory.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch isn’t even in the same universe as the first two Halloween films — the only mention of the events in the previous movies comes as a commercial for the first on television. If one ignores the fact that Season of the Witch is connected only via producer / composer John Carpenter, and looks at it as a film in and of itself, it’s far easier to take. I can’t imagine how pissed I would’ve been to have expected Michael Meyers stalking folks again, only to discover that this is about evil masks.
However, given the fact that it’s creepy and fucked-up beyond belief, what with the kids and the masks and the repetitive jingle. It’s basically a detective story with killers and witchcraft and androids. Once you get into the big reveal, shit really stops making sense — your evil overlords don’t ever really explain as to why they’re doing what they’re doing, other than something than something about Samhain.
Let me get this out of the way: I like The Fog. I like most of John Carpenter‘s work. Carpenter has the unique ability to use wide shots to set the scene, and give everything this sense of place, and contrasts that openness with tight interior locations. The tightness of those interior shots — or, in the case of The Fog, using the fog itself — is all the more intense when the viewer’s been made aware of the freedom right outside.
Carpenter’s score for any film is what ratchets up the tension to near-unbearable levels, and it’s much the same here. The minimalistic tones of its keys and synths are offset by the upbeat jazz tones broadcast by the San Antonio Bay KAB radio station, much in the same way that the wide-open shots are offset by the tight, close-up interior shots.
As we’ve done the last few years, we’ll be covering a different horror movie each and every weekday during the month of October, going all the way up through Halloween. I’m going to try and organize some sort of theme each week this year, in the interest of keeping things interesting for both me and you. This week, we’re going with Tom Atkins, and we’ll be going in chronological order through his greatest hits: The Fog, Halloween III, Creepshow, and Night of the Creeps. Get excited.