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How ‘Halloween’ Brought Horror to the Suburbs and Inspired a Legion of Copycats

Listen to the first episode of ‘Halloween: Unmasked,’ a new podcast series

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Forty years ago, a teenage girl named Laurie Strode was nearly murdered by a masked man she’d never met. The killer’s name was Michael Myers. The movie was Halloween. And when this little, low-budget thriller broke indie box office records, it changed horror movies forever. Filmmaker John Carpenter took terror out of castles, moors, and laboratories and gave it the face of a 5-year-old boy in the suburbs of Haddonfield, Illinois, who stabs his sister in the opening scene.

Welcome to Halloween: Unmasked, an eight-episode podcast series about how Michael Myers’s butcher knife scratched a permanent mark on pop culture. Over the month of October, we’ll talk to everyone—serial killer historians, film critics, child psychologists, fear analysts, comedians, small-town tour guides, horror rappers, and of course, Halloween’s cast and crew (including Jamie Lee Curtis)—to figure out why this simple movie has haunted us for four decades.

In the first episode, we explore John’s own childhood in the civil rights era South, where this strange, creative kid saw the senseless hatred that he would later he spin into Michael Myers. From there, we’ll trace the failures—and friendships—that led to Halloween and derailed Carpenter’s dreams of becoming a big-budget western director as he became the Prince of Darkness.

Later episodes will deep dive into a psychoanalysis of Michael Myers and the equally obsessive Dr. Loomis. Jamie Lee Curtis will talk about following in the bloody footprints of her mother, Psycho’s Janet Leigh. We’ll study the physical effects of fear, the pros and cons of marathoning scary movies, and how that adrenaline rush inspired Hollywood to flood theaters with Halloween sequels and copycats that had Jamie Lee mad enough to kill—and claim she was quitting horror movies forever.

Of course, she didn’t; Jamie Lee and John have joined up with director David Gordon Green and screenwriter Danny McBride for a new Halloween out this month where Laurie Strode has wizened into a grandmother, a survivor, and Haddonfield’s most ferocious stalker. We’ll talk to the fiends behind the new Halloween about the bold moves they made to bring the franchise back in 2018. Michael Myers has a posse.

Grab your mask and join our wickedly fun murder spree.

Subscribe to Halloween: Unmasked wherever you get your podcasts.