Monday, November 1, 2010

641. Halloween (1978)

Running Time: 91 minutes
Directed By: John Carpenter
Written By: John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Main Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, P.J. Soles, Nancy Loomis, Tony Moran


I met him, fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left. No reason, no conscience, no understanding; even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face and, the blackest eyes... the *devil's* eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... *evil*.

It is that statement, made by Dr. Sam Loomis in "Halloween" that, for me, is one of the most terrifying speeches in horror history. We don't have to know a thing about Michael Myers, except for these words that Donald Pleasence delivers. We simply have to see a psychiatrist giving up on his patient and deeming him pure evil.

"Halloween" is set in Everytown, USA, except here it is referred to as Haddonfield, Illinois. We first get the back story: When he was six years old, Michael Myers murdered his sister and was committed to an insane asylum. Fifteen years later, while Michael's doctor, Sam Loomis (Pleasence), and his assistant prepare to transport Michael to court, Michael escapes and steals their car. His destination? Haddonfield, to his childhood home. Loomis eventually makes his way into Haddonfield and warns the local police, who decide to believe him for the sake of the neighborhood. Meanwhile, we focus in on three high school girls, Laurie (Curtis), Annie (Loomis) and Lynda (Soles). The girls are setting up their Halloween night with Lynda and Annie referring to their hot dates for the evening, while Laurie's plans are quite mundane, as she plans to babysit Tommy Doyle. Annie will be babysitting too, that night, but she plans to sneak in a gentleman caller by the name of Paul. As the girls go to work babysitting and the sun goes down, Michael has already made his way into Haddonfield and is already beginning to stalk the girls.

Despite his prior directing efforts on "Assault on Precinct 13", this was really John Carpenter's big breakout movie, as it put him on the map as a name to be reckoned with on the directing scene. This movie was Carpenter's baby, as he directed, wrote and even created that chilling, recognizable score that we all know. And why wouldn't this be the film to put Carpenter on the IS a great film and not JUST a mindless slasher film. When you watch "Halloween", that is exactly what you expect, as you go in expecting the same silly, B-horror movie, drivel and you come out realizing that there was something more special about this one, than you expected.

Maybe it's just a personal thing, but for me, everything in this movie clicks and I do mean everything. Let's start with the camera work, as Carpenter (and cinematographer Dean Cundey) use dozens of P.O.V. shots to get their point across. The P.O.V. shots really add to the suspense and intrigue of the whole movie and force the viewer to look out from behind the eyes of a killer, or a victim, in some cases. The atmosphere of this movie is also great and even the trees seem spooky, looming over the suburbs. A lot of the movie is set at night time, but there is a good portion of the film also set at day, which does absolutely nothing to subside the eerie feeling that we get, as we see Michael peeking around corners and through clotheslines to get a peek at the girls. I love the line in the film that refers to Michael as "inhumanly patient", which I think is a really good line of describing someone of Michael's caliber. It tells us that Michael will bide his time and wait for that perfect, opportune time to off somebody and it may be when we least expect it.

I'll tell you something else, I didn't even mind the acting in this one and maybe it was because the rest of the film was so good, that it was able to compensate for some less than talented/experienced actors, but nothing about the acting bothered me and I even quite enjoyed Pleasence and Curtis. For me, this movie holds an incredible amount of suspense and how fitting that we were just in the middle of watching films from the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. I wonder if Alfred got a chance to see "Halloween", as I'm sure he would've loved it, as Carpenter is obviously a Hitchcock fan. I loved how the little boy's name in the movie is Tommy Doyle. Sound familiar? It's the name of Jimmy Stewart's police detective friend in "Rear Window". Honestly, this film has shades of "Rear Window" in it and they could've easily named the little boy, L.B. Jeffries, as he is always looking out the window and being suspicious. The final scene also reminded me of "Rear Window", as almost the whole time we see Michael Myers from afar, yet the climax brings Michael right inside the house, as he reaches to grasp and murder Laurie.

I can't really say enough good things about this film. For me, it's really one of the great horror flicks. The town, the atmosphere, the characters...they're all so familiar to me and every time I watch it, it doesn't fail to leave me biting my nails (figuratively speaking). The only beef I'll take up with the movie is that I HATED that they showed Michael's face near the end. He was a character that should've been kept masked and faceless to us. Also the ambiguous final ending is just a little too dramatic and I would've much preferred a decisive conclusion, and not a conclusion that spawned nine sequels/remakes.

RATING: 8.5/10 On a horror scale that'd be a definite '10', but horror really isn't my genre of choice and thus even my most favorite horror flicks only get up to an '8.5'.


November 1, 2010 3:01am


  1. what did you think of halloween 2? I thought it was a good sequel.

  2. I saw it once, a few years ago and dont remember liking it that well. I'd actually really like to go through and watch the whole damn franchise, just so I can say I've watched them. I've actually heard good things about "Halloween: H20"


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