'Halloween' creator enjoyed the skill to chill
Forget the blood. Forget the gore. Forget the slasher films that have made their way to the top of the horror genre of today. For “Halloween” creator Irwin Yablans, there's nothing more sinister than the mere suggestion of our worst nightmares coming true. A believer in “theater of the mind,” he's convinced that if his signature horror film were released to today's audience, it'd never generate the kind of scares that it did in 1978. Kids today, he feels, have just become too desensitized to be able to appreciate that infamous musical score that cued the proximity of Michael Myers to his latest victim.
Recently, Yablans released a memoir, “The Man Who Created Halloween” (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, $16.99), which gives a behind-the-scenes look at how the Merchant of Menace went from humble beginnings as a kid kicking around his Brooklyn neighborhood to one of Hollywood's horror-movie darlings. Is there anything that can scare the guy who has ensured some of us still sleep with one eye open? His answer might surprise you ...
Question: How did you came up with the concept of “Halloween”?
Answer: I was desperately trying to find ideas for a young filmmaker I had come in contact with — John Carpenter. I was on my way back from a film festival in Milan, and I was sitting in the dark cabin of a Boeing, and that was a long, long, ride. And I thought to myself, “It should be a horror film.” Because we had a budget to worry about, I thought, “Halloween! Why not Halloween? We'll do it in one location, and we'll try to do it all in one night.” When the plane landed, I ran home and I told my wife about it, and she thought it was great. And I got Carpenter on the phone and he got it immediately. … He was so excited.
So, we agreed to meet the next day at a hamburger place across the street from my office, and I told him it had to be no blood, no gore — it had to be theater of the mind. I grew up with radio, and radio used to have some great, great shows — the equivalent of horror shows today. And I had $300K budget. It was purely an inspiration!
Q: How does it feel to know you're responsible for millions of children and adults sleeping with the lights on?
A: I love it! I'm called a Merchant of Menace by some, but my kids would tell you this: I was really an impossible prankster. I would love to hide in closets. I just love it. But listen, everyone has to be famous for something. It is not a gory movie; it is not a sadistic movie. I think, today, it would get a PG (rating).
When I was a kid, I loved Halloween, and Halloween was just that — a kids' holiday. When we made the movie, I said, “We've appropriated a holiday, and we're going to change the perception of Halloween and make it for all.” Halloween is the one holiday in the year that we celebrate without responsibility or obligation. You're encouraged to go out and be mischievous and you're rewarded for it.
Q: Why do we love scaring ourselves to death?
A: It is that controlled aspect of it — the fact that you can test yourself and test the limits of your endurance, but it's controlled. You're in control. You're safe. That's the part that really makes people love movies. They can go and get a thrill, and, at any time, they can close their eyes or leave.
Q: There was an actual Michael Myers in your life at the time. Did he serve as the inspiration for the character?
A: Yeah! He was a very lovely man. He had big black horned-rimmed glasses. He was very sweet. This was John Carpenter's idea — he met him and decided. Michael was very flattered, but his wife is still very mad at me because she wonders where her take of the millions of dollars is.
Q: You described sitting in the back of a theater and being surprised at what strong reactions people had. What is it about that movie that just completely freaks people out?
A: I thought about that for many, many years. Two things. One, the rhythmic pacing of the movie. They never know when he's going to come out of the shadows. Second, the musical score. I was in Boston when I saw it, and there were people screaming and yelling and running up and down the aisles. It was just bizarre!
Q: If “Halloween” were released today, do you think it would have the same effect on people?
A: No. In fact, I'm amazed that people still get something out of it now, because when I look at it, somehow it looks somewhat dated. I'm surprised that people get the scares out of it still. This audience today of young people has been so desensitized that I don't know if it would work.
Q: Are there any movies out there that scare even you?
A: Nothing scares me anymore. I'm just immune to that sort of thing. What scares me is television and the news — the reality of life. That's what keeps me awake at night and troubles me.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins notebook: Staal insists he never asked for trade to Penguins
- Spring training breakdown: Braves 7, Pirates 5
- North Fayette company changes defendants in Antonio Brown endorsement lawsuit
- Pitt adds quarterback recruit from Cincinnati
- Sinkhole caused by mine subsidence closes Laketon Road in Penn Hills
- Alone at controls, Germanwings co-pilot sought to ‘destroy’ the plane
- Santorum: Obama opposition to fossil fuels ‘quasi-religious’
- Steelers re-sign WR Heyward-Bey to 1-year deal
- Review: A teenage girl’s nightmare realized in ‘It Follows’
- Lawrenceville man will stand trial on ‘revenge porn’ charges
- Spring check-up: Gingham is this season’s fashion favorite