Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Listen to a theater scream, gasp, and holler at a 1979 Halloween screening

Photo: Fotos International (Getty Images)

Decades having passed since his debut, our old pal Michael Myers (not that one) has become predictable. We’ve seen him smash through walls and show off his ab muscles with that perfect sit-up trick so many times now that, while still unnerving, the blank-faced serial killer’s murderous antics have lost a bit of their edge.

Back in 1979, though, when John Carpenter’s Halloween was only a year old, theaters filled with viewers lost their shit watching Jamie Lee Curtis face off against a character who was just then beginning to cement his place as a horror movie icon.

The video comes from Kyle J. Wood, who describes matching the audio he “tape recorded inside a Hollywood Boulevard movie theater in 1979" to the appropriate footage from the movie itself. (A touched-up version of the clip from @TheJazzyUte is also available through a Daily Grindhouse tweet.) As you can hear in Woods’ video, Halloween’s scares work as intended. The theater screams like they’ve taken the first dive on a rollercoaster when Michael sits up in bed behind an unsuspecting Laurie Strode and clap and yell when he creeps up to attack her. Dr. Loomis unloads on Michael with bullet after bullet and there’s a renewed wave of clapping, cheering, and some prophetic joker shouting out “One more time!” when he falls to the lawn, only to disappear a moment later.

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Of course people in 1979, not having lived through the ensuing 40 years of larger-scale human-made terror or decades of little kids trick ’r treating in Myers masks, were more prone to finding a single, extremely festive murderer incredibly spooky. Now, we have to watch videos like this to remember just how effective Halloween’s scares were before Michael’s wild, crazy, and very stabby antics were ingrained into popular culture through years of sequels and TV broadcasts.

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About the author

Reid McCarter

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.