Halloween (1978)

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RATING: 5/5

SPOILERS

Released in 1978, the story deals with an escaped mental patient by the name of Michael Myers who returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois.

An all-time horror classic directed and written by the great John Carpenter. He truly delivers in all departments including cinematography, music, direction, characters, etc.

The first scene of this film is remarkable as it is the perfect way to get invested in the story. An uninterrupted POV shot of some figure coming to a house. The figure looking through the window spying on a couple and then coming through the back door of the house. The surprise at the end, the reveal of the figure being a small boy, is quite a shock for people seeing this for the first time. This is one of the many great examples of the cinematography style. Another example is when the character of Laurie Strode, played by Jaime Lee Curtis, is walking across the street to check on the activity at a house where one of her friends is babysitting. I feel like this part was paced very well and looked to be shot in real-time too. The timing of shots between Laurie and the house was done great. It might just be a character walking across a street, but the way it’s handled makes one watching it really unsettled and creates good suspense.

Lots of time the camera is giving wide shots and panning to either the left or right. This was very nice at establishing the neighborhood environment, as well as showcase the creepy yet fun Halloween holiday atmosphere. The leaves are falling, the abundance of trick or treaters walking on the streets, making jack o lanterns, and watching horror movies late at night; all those activities really set that perfect Halloween mood. You, of course, have the classic opening credits of the movie, which display the credits in an orange glow and a jack o lantern on the left with the candle inside slowly being blown out. Again, it really hooks a viewer in especially with the classic theme playing in the background.

Now an important element of horror is having great sound work. To which this film delivers a legendary theme that is easily recognizable upon hearing. The theme, as well as other famous musical cues, are used very appropriately at the right time and moments throughout. Once you hear those certain cues, you’ll know what it is associated with, thus making that scene memorable. Whether it the kill or the killer spying on his next victim, you’ll know where in the movie it’s from. But other times there is no music at parts which was very good to let the eerie/uncomfortable mood sink in. The only sounds you hear during the nighttime scenes are the faint wind blowing in the air and the occasional dog barking in the distance, further enhancing a sense of realism in this neighborhood.

A horror movie is not as scary if you don’t have characters to latch onto until the end, to which you have two great ones. There is Laurie Strode and Dr. Samuel Loomis, played Donald Pleasence. Each of the characters serves their roles very well. There is Laurie who plays the “final girl” of any slasher movie. But this movie gives time to show her life and give development to make you care for her. She is resourceful at combating Michael and at times makes good decisions, like the scene where she walks across the street to check on her friend who might be in danger. Dr. Samuel Loomis is great at playing the doctor trying to stop the evil that has plagued Haddonfield. The lines he delivers are bone-chilling, especially when he is describing Michael as pure evil and nothing more. He sells these lines with a great performance and a great expression on his face. You truly believe that Michael has no remorse or guilt for the actions he takes.

The concept of Michael being evil is shown great on a philosophical viewpoint. Which is the idea that evil itself can’t be destroyed. This is most definitely shown toward the end of the movie where Michael survives the gunshots delivered by Dr. Loomis. His disappearance signifies the idea of no matter how good the world might be, evil will still be lurking somewhere. This is heard clearly at the end by Michael’s heavy breathing as the camera gleams over the important houses featured in the film. No matter how many times we as human beings want to relinquish all hatred, it’ll in some way or form strike back.

Speaking of theme/concepts, one of them that this movie seems to touch upon that I thought was interesting were the scenes where the characters are watching the television. They all have blank and emotionless expressions on their face. This movie seems to bring out underexposure of the dark suburban society. It’s that people, most likely children or teens, are so desensitized with appreciating their own happy lifestyle that they fail to see how the real world truly behaves. Thus Michael is here as proof to show that suburban society is not as harmless as it was once believed.

One character that I’m missing is, of course, the infamous slasher villain himself, Michael Myers. This is a character that you feel sorry for, due to to the act he committed as a young boy in the beginning. The expression he has on his face while holding the knife really shows someone who did something dreadful and something that they may never recover from psychologically. Just like Dr. Loomis, Michael is essentially evil in the living flesh, which is shown very clear as he kills.

The kills themselves are very simple, this is a slasher movie that has little blood and no gore, but it works. These simplistic kills add to some realism and are not exaggerated to the point of ridiculousness like the head explosion in the latest Halloween movie. This goes to show a horror movie doesn’t need blood or fancy special effects to sell to the mainstream.

Now even with the perfect score up above, that’s not to say I have a few grips with the movie. The movie has other characters like Laurie’s high-school friends, who they are not bad they’re fine. But some of their acting, even for Jaime Lee Curtis herself, can be really dodgy at certain points. The weather in the film doesn’t match real-life October weather. The trees are mainly green and there’s no orange/yellow in them at all. But I believe the positives “totally” outshine these minor complaints. Also, the fact that this movie had a budget of around $300,000 is saying a lot. The fact that director John Carpenter and his crew were able to execute a well-crafted horror film with that small budget is remarkable.

If you haven’t seen the original Halloween, please do it immediately. I highly recommend it as it is one of my favorite horror films of all time. It is a definite horror film you must see and one you must see around the time of Halloween.