Monday, October 7, 2013

13 Days of Halloween: Review of John Carpenter's Halloween (1978)

“Death has come to your little town sheriff. You can either ignore it, or you can help me destroy it.”
- Dr. Sam Loomis, Halloween
Halloween has become one of those movies that need no introduction. Any horror fan (or regular movie fan, for that matter) worth his salt has seen it, usually more than once. Every year, it is watched countless times in darkened living rooms, the famous piano score drifting eerily over the leaf-strewn streets of Haddonfield. The film captures the feel of a chilly October night perfectly. It is the movie that forged the careers of both director John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis. It also created one of the most iconic movie villains of all time: Michael Myers, the Boogeyman of Haddonfield. 
With his butcher’s blade and ghostly white mask, Michael is described as the boogeyman, and he looks every inch of it. Every facet of this movie’s lore and legend is hungrily absorbed by horror fans, and becomes common fact: that Michael’s mask was supposed to be a William Shatner mask; that Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) was named after a minor character in Psycho; that Jamie Lee Curtis was cast specifically because her mother had been in Psycho. We all know these facts, and many more, but rather than trivialize the film, they just seem to enhance it.

Granted, it’s a far from perfect film. The scenes with the babysitters’ dialogue are painfully dated, and wooden in their delivery. Some of the acting is a tad hammy, and the sometimes the film betrays its low budget seems. However, this is all made up for in the scare department. Though very tame indeed when compared with more recent shockers, Halloween never seeks to shock you or gross you out: instead, it tries to (and very much succeeds in) scare you silly. For first time viewers, this is one best watched in a dark room, with nothing but the movie for company. You’ll be sleeping with the lights on, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, like most successful movies that are any good, Halloween spawned lousy sequels and countless imitators that tarnished the reputation of the original. But in the end, John Carpenter, and of course, Michael, have emerged triumphant. If you plan on watching on movies on All Hallow’s Eve, Halloween belongs on your list.

HalloweeNut’s Verdict:
3 out of 4 Skulls
A foot note: as part of its 35th anniversary, Halloween is being re-released to select theaters. You can look for on near you here:

1 comment:

  1. Awesome review, and I agree fully.

    The chase scene towards the end of the film remains one of the most tense setpieces I have ever seen. And that ending montage...

    I think I'll give this another play tomorrow.