FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Oct 31, 2023

Day 31 - "It's Halloween. Everyone's entitled to one good scare."

Here we are, at the end of all things SHOCKtober 2023! My, how time flies when you're having horror movies. It's been a terrific time for me, giving a few films a second chance, revisiting some old faves, and watching many more that were entirely new to me--a couple of which have become new faves. But what to choose for the last movie of the month? After much consideration and poring over the list of your favorites until my eyes fell out (it's 951 movies, after all), I said you know what, let me put on some Uggs™, take a sip of my pumpkin spice coffee (my supply is dwindling, by the way), and be a basic bitch: It's time for la raison de la saison. It's time for Halloween (1978).

I actually don't make it mandatory viewing every year, opting instead for anything that feels atmospherically-appropriate because I've seen Halloween so many goddamn times that I could probably do a 99% accurate one-woman show of the entire thing, music cues included. But something about this year, it just felt right. It felt...not fresh, exactly, because that's impossible. It's not as if it would hold any surprises for me, but I was excited all the same. It's like I was the third kid trailing behind Laurie in the pumpkin parade, going "ooooOOOOoooooo."

In the 2010 and 2017 lists of readers' favorite horror films, Halloween ranked #1. In 2020, it dropped to #4, with Suspiria (2018) taking the top spot. I'd be surprised if Suspiria held the top spot next time around--yes, I think that's a perfect film and it certainly ranks as one of my favorites, but it's possible there was some recency bias (or perhaps Gaylords of Darkness listener bias) happening. I could be wrong! We shall see. But I'd be equally surprised to see Halloween regain the top spot. Do the kids jive with it anymore? It feels like no.

Of course, I am generalizing, and there are always going to be those who like to put the stab-stab to horror's sacred cows, calling them "boring" or "not scary" or "not actually that good" or whatever. Scream, it seems, has taken over as the slasher top dog. It's got a healthy, vocal contingent that came of horror age with it, and the newer installations bring back legacy characters while still centering a young demographic. Essentially, Scream keeps on Screamin' in a way that brings together multiple generations of horror fans. It works in a way that Halloween does not and never has, with its offshoots, multiple reboots, explanations, and timelines. 

Even though I take a year off from it here and there, though, I'll always love this movie with my whole heart. It's too ingrained. It terrified me too much during the entirety of my youth: That shot of Michael sitting up and turning to look at Laurie was (and honestly, still sort of is) the stuff of nightmares. For a long time of my horror-loving life, I could not envision anything scarier than Michael Myers. Except maybe Pazuzu. 

As for Laurie Strode, I think I've been too hard on her in recent years and the fact that it's ultimately Dr Loomis who saves the day, even if the respite is only temporary. I can't help but be dazzled by more proactive gals like your Chris Higgins, or the gals who really fucking went through it like Sally Hardesty. But really, every Final Girl really fucking went through it, yeah? Why am I making this some kind of Final Girl Oppression and Going Through It Olympics? 

Girl Scout Laurie goes from watching a monster movies with the two kids in her charge to finding the dead bodies of literally all of her friends in the blink of an eye. She's relentlessly pursued by a maniac--a smooth-walking maniac, but a maniac nonetheless. She runs, she fends him off and fights back on more than one occasion, and she still has the wherewithal to take care of those kids. She's fucking great, and I take back every single moment I cared that Loomis SHOT HIM SIX TIMES.

Speaking of Loomis, I know--I KNOW!--that he's essential for making Michael Myers something more than a mere weirdo. Without Loomis, there is no Shape. But my gawd, Loomis. His diagnosis of Michael, which is that the man is an "it" who is "evil," is based on ~*~vibes~*~. Yes, Michael stabbed his sister to death. There's clearly something going on! But otherwise, we are told that he simply stares at walls. He doesn't hurt anyone in the hospital. He doesn't say a word or make a threatening gensture. But Doctor (DOCTOR!!!) Loomis looks in his eyes and knows he is evil. What fucking Sally Struthers correspondence course did he take to earn his degree certificate? 

That said, of course he was right, so thank goodness he didn't opt for Air Conditioner Repair or TV/VCR Repair, amirite?

I had such a great time revisiting this movie. The music still hits. Nick Castle's physicality is oddly underrated when we're talking about great horror performances. I still adore the girls (Annie is forever my sarcastic queen). It's still crazy how quick the sex is between Judith Myers and her boyfriend. I still wonder who was going to look at the Myers house? Like, who was the prospective buyer for whom Laurie Strode had to drop off keys?

So I don't know, if you're anything like me in that you've seen Halloween so many times that you love it but you also you've wrung every last possible drop of in-the-moment enjoyment from it...maybe you haven't. Maybe you'll find yourself wishing you had it all alone...just the two of you. What I'm really talking about here is FATE.

I guess that's a wrap on it! Thanks to everyone who's been reading and commenting and the such, it's been a hoot indeed. If you want to keep up with Final Girl updates (I'VE GOT PLANS), you can sign up over at Avenue X (it's free!) and get Final Girl posts and whatever other writing I do over there right in the ol' email inbox. Or you can keep checking here, that's your business. I've also been guesting a lot recently on the Evolution of Horror podcast--many of my episodes are on the Patreon, but there are free ones, too. I also still have my column in every issue of Rue Morgue magazine--I've usually got a few reviews in there as well, and the occasional feature. Just throwing that all out there.

So I'll be around a few places and back here soon. Until then, as always, make every tober a SHOCKtober


Steve K said...

Really, truly, thank you for taking the time and energy to do Shocktober this year. It's been the highlight of my days this past month.

Stacie Ponder said...

Ayyy thanks, Steve! And thanks for all the comments and discussion. It's been a magnifique SHOCKtober all around.

goblin said...

It wouldn't be October without SHOCKtober. I visit this blog regularly to check for updates, but especially so during Halloween season. It has become as much of a tradition for me as carving a pumpkin and handing out candy. So thanks for another 31 days' worth of engaging and entertaining writing. And, of course, happy Halloween.

Jason Adams said...

What a wonderful month with so many treasures - thanks, Stacie! Without Shocktober 2023 I never would've had SCREAM FOR HELP in my life and that's a timeline I have no interest in!

I have been kind of feeling the pull of a Halloween re-watch myself, even though I think I watched it like three months ago lol. NEVER NOT PERFECT.

Vanessa H said...

You made it! Amazing.
I just wanted to say two unrelated things - that 1) for UK people Messiah of Evil is available for free on (in a slightly shonky, crackly copy) and 2) I don't feel people talk about the amazing hanging bed in that movie? I mean, it's incredible?!

Eve said...

I LOVE SHOCKTOBER. This one was a really fun round, too--loved your plunge into the one- and two-vote pile, the rarely but dearly beloved films. Do you know the Mountain Goats song "Michael Myers Resplendent"? It is on my Halloween playlist every year.

Stacie Ponder said...

Thanks so much, everyone, this has been really fun and it kind of flew by. I'll be in my bed crying pumpkin spice-scented tears for nine days!

@Vanessa - that whole house is such a dream, I'd live there in an instant, even with the occasional ghoul breaking in

@Eve - Love the Goats, esp the horror-flavored stuff! John D has long been a cyberfriend of the blog, he knows what's up

James Lewis said...

Thanks for making SHOCKtober a thang...and a great thang, too!

I've watched a lot of YouTubers react to Halloween (don't ask why...I find the whole "reaction" genre to be really strange...yet fascinating), and almost every single one of and women...HATE Annie because she's such a smart aleck! They alsways say she such a bad friend.

I'm like "WHAAAAT?!?!"

Who the heck do these people hang out with? Mister Rogers? Are they only friends with people who support them no matter what? Jeepers, I NEED someone who's willing to reply to my not being able to find a date with a hearty and snarky "Poor James...scared another one away."

Stacie Ponder said...


And then she calls Ben Tramer! Giving Laurie a helpful, if snarky, nudge.

Also they're all like 17, of course they're assholes :D

Matt said...

Thank you for Shocktober! I haven't watched along with everything, but I've read every post, and it has contributed to one of the best Octobers I've had in a while.

@Vanessa - I agree! The hanging bed in Messiah of Evil is all I could think about after watching it for the first time.

@Jason - Scream for Help is also my #1 discovery from this Shocktober! I never knew I needed it in my life.

I'm also glad to hear good words for The Mountain Goats, because they're really the best.

Stacie Ponder said...

Thanks so much, Matt! I love hearing that. (And i love the love for Scream for Help)

Francis said...

Thanks so much for doing this, Stacie! It has been such a treat. Shocktober has really gotten me in the mood this year (for Halloween ya pervs), and I’m rounding out my monthly viewings with the original Halloween too! I still think November 1st is the most depressing day of the year. Happy Halloween!

matango said...

Thank you Stacie. I love Shocktobers. I love every post. But goddammit, I love Dr. Loomis, the world's worst psychiatrist

Stacie Ponder said...

Loomis becoming increasingly unhinged--which is difficult to do, as he started at completely unhinged--is maybe the best thing about the franchise overall

Kristina said...

Loomis TOLD EVERYBODY!! and nobody listened.
Really loved all the Shocktober posts, such a variety of goodies. and thanks for introducing me to a bunch of new gems!

Steve said...

Thanks for keeping the jack o' lantern candle burning, Stacie!

Treats from this year:

No One Will Save You
David Lynch's The Alphabet
Blood (Brad Anderson)
The Caller
Talk To Me
When Evil Lurks
The Conference
Scream For Help
Theater Of Blood

And a delightful rewatch of One Cut Of The Dead.

I also finally watched the entire Friday the 13th series and now have to go back and read all of Stacie's posts on them from over the years. I'd seen 1,2,X, and FvJ before, and parts of 8 (Julius's death scene always stuck with me and I was glad it still worked).