US (dir. John Carpenter)
Cast: Brian Andrews, Charles Cyphers, Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Nancy Kyes, Nancy Stephens, Nick Castle, P.J. Soles, Robert Phalen, Tony Moran
Synopsis: A psychotic murderer institutionalized since childhood escapes on a mindless rampage while his doctor chases him through the streets.
Review: “Halloween” is one of those rare films that I would rank amongst the greatest horror classics of all time. Simply put, this movie is a winner from start to finish. What it lacks in bloodshed and gore, it makes up for in expertly executed stalking scenes and a knack for setting up perfectly suspenseful moments that never fail to hold me completely captive. It’s difficult to wrap your head around the fact that this film was made in 1978, and though it bears somewhat of a similarity to an earlier horror classic, “Black Christmas”, which makes you wonder whether “Halloween” was heavily influenced by that film, it is still a remarkably original creation devoid of any elements “borrowed” from earlier works in the horror genre. “Halloween” is truly the ultimate horror film to watch on a Halloween night, or any night for that matter.
Upon first seeing “Halloween”, I was stuck by how well-paced the film is. There’s a lot of girl chatter inter-spliced with Michael Myers related plot development, but they manage to keep the ball moving, so to speak, by the surprisingly great acting (specifically courtesy of the Laurie, Annie and Linda characters) and scenes where Dr. Loomis is tracking down Michael in the suburbs of Haddonfield and is constantly just two steps behind his target. There really is never a dull moment in this film. The girls’ chatter sometimes becomes inane and often lengthy, but it’s actually a realistic representation of what teenage girls talk about for most of their day. Laurie always felt a touch too prudish for me (and her clothing choices look so grandmotherly and conservative, by both today’s standard and the standards of the late 1970s), but her friends definitely struck a great balance between slutty and smart by not making themselves out to be over-sexed high school tarts, but young independent women who know what they want – except of course, for Laurie the prude. The pace of the film allows itself to be maintained so well mainly due to the fact that the storyline is just so damn simple: escaped killer, Michael Myers, stalks and kills babysitters. There is of course, the side story involving a mildly eccentric Dr. Loomis stalking Myers which adds some complications to the film (Myers always just manages to evade authorities… at one point even driving by on duty policemen!), gives some detail regarding Myers’ rather tragic past (murdered his sister when he was just a child on Halloween night, for reasons unknown) and discussions between Loomis and local authorities on how, exactly, a deranged psychopathic killer from a maximum security mental asylum managed to escape and easily demonstrate how to hijack and operate a motor vehicle (could the latter have possibly been due to the asylum’s “Driving for Sanity” program? LOL), but this flows very well alongside the main story involving Myers stalking babysitters and going on a murder spree in the suburbs.
I LOVE how this movie is filmed. It has it just right. The score, the cinematography (long, seamless, tracking shots), the editing, everything works. It’s truly the perfect horror film, and I really cannot stress that enough. The best thing about this film, is its patience with the material. It slowly builds up using stalking sequences, well-placed music, and all those wonderful, John Carpenter trademarked, “jump” scares – where someone or something jumps onscreen right at you and causes you to lose your shit for like 10 seconds. It’s one of the most over-used and often, inappropriately used, feature in modern horror films but God bless Carpenter for introducing it. There’s a great scene where Laurie is dropping off papers at the old Meyers house, in all its boarded up and decrepit glory, when out pops Michael from the corner of the door, watching Laurie as she walks away. Still gets me every time I watch it, a true testament to the film’s excellence.
“Halloween” is a horror classic that is timeless. It pwns the sequels, the remakes, and the imitators. It’s so ahead of its time, it’s just a marvel when you stop and think that it was make in fucking 1978. If you want to watch legitimate horror, start here. Now!