Murder mayhem infests Spaulding

by Matt Blanchard | 10/31/97 6:00am

This year's coincidence of Halloween and Homecoming will probably be one of the most interesting weekends Hanover has seen in a long time. But, just in case there still are not enough options to satisfy your social appetite, the Dartmouth Film Society is adding some appropriate seasonal flavor with a screening of two of the most popular horror movies of recent years: "Halloween" and "Scream," at 9:00 and 10:30, respectively, tonight.

Many critics consider John Carpenter's "Halloween" (1978) to be the mother of all modern horror movies. Starring a youthful Jamie Lee Curtis in her big screen debut, "Halloween" was a huge hit and grossed more than $60 million at the box office, not bad for a film that was made on a nickels-and-dimes budget and shot in just 20 days. Unfortunately, the film's great success spawned a glut of tedious sequels and spin-offs which have since given a bad name to the "Halloween" series and to modern horror films in general.

Unlike most of its uninspired descendants, however, "Halloween" is truly frightening and was very original at the time of its release. It boasts one of horror's most fearsome villains in Michael Myers, an intense climax and definitely some of the creepiest theme music ever written for the screen.

The film opens on a Halloween night when Myers is just a small child. Upset that his older sister and her boyfriend are going at it in an upstairs bedroom, he grabs a knife, knocks them both off and is consequently shipped off to a mental institution. The bulk of the film takes place many years later, when the adult Myers escapes from the institution, dons his famous mask and decides to terrorize his old neighborhood on, gee, how'd you guess... Halloween night!

Curtis plays a frumpy teenage babysitter who must save the day while her more popular and sex-crazed friends bite the dust one by one. Although the plot may seem like old news by now, it is very well crafted and "Halloween's" surprise ending leaves little to be desired.

Wes Craven's surprise hit "Scream" (1996) returns to the big screen at Spaulding for the fourth time since its release just under a year ago. Starring the lovely Neve Campell killer stalking some big-breasted girl who can't act and who's always running up the stairs when she should be going out the front door. It's insulting. At the same time, however, "Scream" honors these past horror films by using the same old gimmicks to great effect. The result is a very scary, if somewhat predictable film. It's as if Craven is winking at us the whole time, acknowledging that the gimmicks are old, but boasting that they can still be scary if they're done well. And he's right.

Based on past experiences in which the DFS showed "Scream," there is nothing like a good horror movie in a big theater packed with screaming college students. So if you are looking to scare yourself witless and start Halloween night on the right note, Spaulding is definitely the place to be.