While the Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street series’ have had retrospective documentaries and books published, the Halloween franchise has remained fairly untouched until now.
We caught up with author Ernie Magnota to talk about his new book The Changing Shape of an Iconic Series which sheds some light on the Shape and co.’s 40 years plus of terror.
Tell us where the idea come from for the book?
I got the idea for the book in 2013. I was writing for several retro film magazines and I was trying to come up with article ideas that hadn’t been done before. After I came up with the idea of comparing the filmmaking techniques of the original “Halloween” with those of the sequels, I realized that there was too much material for a magazine article and that it could only be done as a book.
What are your recollections of seeing the original Halloween?
My first time seeing the original “Halloween” was a wonderful experience. The movie was brand new, so I had no idea what I was in for. During the first few seconds, I was already scared (in a good way) by John Carpenter’s amazing musical score. That fear lasted all the way through to the end credits because “Halloween” just continued to build scares and suspense until, by the third act of the film, I was in a complete frenzy.
Key moments that stuck with me after that first viewing were six-year-old Michael holding the knife; the Shape standing behind the clothesline and staring up at Laurie; the head tilt; the Shape covered in the white sheet; Laurie’s walk over to the Wallace house; the Shape materializing out of the darkness behind Laurie; the Shape sitting up behind Laurie and, of course, the Shape’s body disappearing from the lawn after being shot six times. I was scared, but in a fun, exhilarating way.
Why do you think the series has endured over 40 years of films?
I think the main reason has to do with the power of the original film. It was so masterfully done and so scary in a fun way that people just want that experience again. Plus, I think we all love the idea of an unstoppable boogeyman. Evil doesn’t really exist in that way, so that made the film and the scares fun and not disturbing or depressing.
Do you think Michael Myers is the ultimate horror villain?
I never thought of that. He probably is the ultimate horror villian because he only exists to frighten and to kill.
Who did you enjoy speaking to most about the series?
Actually, I didn’t interview anyone for this book. Because of the approach I took, the original publishing company wanted only my thoughts. However, after the book was completed, I did get a few positive quotes from P.J. Soles, Dick Warlock and Ellie Cornell which meant a lot to me.
What did you think about Halloween (2018)?
I really wanted to love this film, but unfortunately I didn’t. The only pluses for me were Jamie Lee Curtis’ wonderful performance and the musical score. I did kind of like the scene with Michael and the babysitter.
I also thought that Laurie adopting some of Michael’s traits like standing across the street from her granddaughter’s school and, later, materializing out of the darkness were nice touches. One of the problems I had with the film was that we’d sort of seen this story already with “H20” (although the 2018 film is better). Plus, the movie wasn’t scary enough and, although, when compared to past sequels, Michael’s character improved in some areas, it was lacking in others.
Are you of the opinion that Halloween III has aged well?
I believe that “Halloween III” has aged very well. It’s such an underrated film. Tommy Lee Wallace did a terrific job directing it and if it weren’t for the title, the film would be well-loved and considered a classic today. When I first saw it in 1982 I was a little disappointed because I was expecting Laurie, Loomis and the Shape, but by the end of the 80s I realized what a wonderful film it was.
How long did it take you to put the book together?
It took me a little over five years to complete the book. It wasn’t an easy book to write and, also, I’m so passionate about the material that I wanted it to be as perfect as possible. It took a long time, but I’m extremely glad that I did it.
Halloween: The Changing Shape of an Iconic Series is available now on Amazon.