Director John Carpenter
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence
Top 100 Films #4 Top 20 Horror Films #3
Scott’s Review #114
Reviewed July 16, 2014
Halloween is an iconic horror film from 1978 that set the tone for the barrage of slasher films to follow throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s.
Today, the film continues to hold up incredibly well and I am proud to list it as, not only one of my favorite horror films (which I religiously watch every Halloween) but one of my favorite films of all time.
The focus is on style and substance over gore (the film contains little) and the score is one of the scariest and most effective in cinema history.
The premise of the film is simple- a homicidal maniac is on the loose in a sleepy little town named Haddonfield, Illinois, and is targeting three female babysitters one crisp Halloween night.
The audience knows that the six-year-old little boy dressed as a clown on a dark Halloween night years ago, and who butchered his older sister to death, is the now grown-up culprit.
What we do not know, nor should we, is what his (Michael Meyers) motivation is. This confusion only adds to the impact of the story.
Subsequent remakes have added complexities to the character, needlessly so, but in the original, we see a seemingly happy child with stable parents and a good life.
Similar stories have been told over time in film history. But Halloween is simply one of the greatest horror films ever made.
As simple as the story is, it is the way the film is made that makes it a masterpiece. Everything about Halloween is mesmerizing- the lighting is perfect, the ambiance, the incredibly scary musical score brilliant, the battle between good and evil, and the perfect feeling of a chilly Halloween night.
Highly unusual for its time, the point of view of the killer and heavy breathing are prevalent throughout the film, which will startle and scare the viewer. The opening shot is through the eyes of a masked six-year-old kid wearing a clown mask.
The unique technical aspects go on and on.
Director John Carpenter had a vision for this film and thankfully no studio influence ruined it since it was an independent film on a shoestring budget.
The Hitchcock influences are evident in the character names- Sam Loomis and many scenes involving someone watching the action or peeking around a corner, through a window, which makes the viewer anxious and nervous.
Set in the small-town USA, a frightening element of the film is that it could happen anywhere and the location is ingenious. There is very little blood, let alone gore. It is needless. It is the creepiness that makes the film brilliant.
The three teenagers are perfectly cast- Jamie Lee Curtis is the serious bookworm, P.J. Soles and Nancy Keyes are the flirtatious bad girls, but the chemistry between them is great and the audience buys them as best friends.
The jump-out- of- your seat moments are incredibly well-timed and it is one of the few genuinely scary films.
Forget solely the horror genre- Halloween (1978) is one of the greatest films ever made.