Halloween_(1978)_theatrical_poster

YOU CAN’T KILL THE BOOGIEMAN.

Michael Myers was (is?) one scary dude. Steve remembers just how scary and wonders--would he run or try to save Jamie Lee Curtis?

Jamie Lee Curtis became the object of many young man's affection while fending off a monster in her film debut.
Jamie Lee Curtis became the object of many young man’s affection while fending off a monster in her film debut.

The average adult male loses 1% of his testosterone every year. But 1% of what? Well, 1% of the the 1,000-1,200 nanograms per deciliter you enjoy on your 18th birthday. So, by my calculations, the formula had me at approximately 1,199 ng/dl (just off an all-time high) on Halloween night, 1978. It may be that I could use a little of the juice today, but I know I needed every ounce of it that night just to walk out of the theater after the midnight showing of John Carpenter’s Halloween.

A teen-age boy on the far side of adolescence has almost no connection to reality; we live in world where danger is just not a concept we recognize. I may have been 6’2″ tall and 170 pounds and last thrown a punch 5 years before, but hey I could handle myself. And of course, that 1,199 ng/dl figure made me plenty attractive to the females among us. Right? In testing those hypotheticals, lets just say that evidence-based science was not my thing.

Anyway, all the machismo I could muster crumpled during the 101-minute run time of the movie. Made on a $300,000 budget, Carpenter had no money for special effects. Instead of blood and guts, most of the violence takes place in our minds. And in an innovation, we see almost all of the horrific stuff from Michael Myers’ point of view, as he stalks the doomed teenagers of Haddonfield, Illinois. The white mask Myers wore turned him faceless, but he was so powerfully built that stopping him without a gun would be impossible; particularly for a bunch of white-bread teenage dudes just like me. The body count for my contemporaries rises throughout the movie. So much so that I came to the realization that while I was not particularly strong,  I was also not particularly fast. That had been a bad enough combination on the football field, but it would be absolutely disastrous around Michael Myers.


You ready to take this guy on? Just a reminder that appendage you see is a knitting needle stuck in his neck and Michael could not care less.
You ready to take this guy on? Just a reminder that appendage you see is a knitting needle stuck in his neck and Michael could not care less.

The low budget made things even more horrifying. These people dressed exactly like me. In fact, the costume designer did all her shopping at J.C. Penney; she spent all of $100 to clothe Jamie Lee Curtis. Which brings us to the second ramification of a 1,199 testosterone level. Halloween was Jamie Lee Curtis’ film debut and if you fancy a woman in peril, there has never been more of a woman, more in peril. Jamie was destined for the role; her mother was the Janet Leigh who Alfred Hitchcock cast for an unfortunate demise in Psycho (and her dad was Tony Curtis).


Jamie's mother in Touch of Evil.
Jamie’s mother in Touch of Evil.

Jamie’s character (Laurie Strode), however, was much more alluring than her mother’s (Marion Crane). First off, Laurie was the virtuous, All-American baby sitter while Marion was a scheming secretary. Jamie fought back with pluck, Marion just bought it.  And Jamie, being my age, was just breathtaking. The mix of the sexy babysitter and the unstoppable villain brought up an existential dilemma: would I stand between Laurie Strode and Michael Myers?

You tell yourself you would. But on Halloween night 1978, I had an epiphany. It is best not to get into situations like that. If you do, it is going to end badly. Either you live the rest of your life knowing you gave up on Jamie Lee Curtis or you don’t live the rest of your life. In the ensuing 38 years, my testosterone level has dipped at bit (at a below average rate, I’ll brag), but the lesson Michael Myers taught me has stood me in good stead.  Use your head; with a little bit of planning, you need not ever meet the boogieman.

Jamie, off course, lived to tell the tale because she stabbed the boogieman several times (it turns out that I probably could not take down Laurie Strode, let alone Michael Myers) before Donald Pleasance unloaded a revolver into him. Even that ending was not enough to kill off Michael and the six sequels. And for that reason alone, I will double check the door locks tonight, still careful to avoid the man in the mask.


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