Classics

[Movie Review] Halloween (1978) ★★★★★

Halloween is the stylish scary slasher of all slashers.


Halloween is maybe the most well-known slasher of all times. It has everything a slasher is known for. An indestructible masked killer. A couple of teens who are the ignorant victims. A brave final girl. And Halloween as a setting, that enhances the horror vibe. But Halloween is much more than that. With stylish shots, an atmosphere that gets more tensed. A great soundtrack and a storyline that, although simple, is very much engrossing and thrilling. It’s the perfect watch for Halloween, but it’s also a very well-crafted film, that with little gore, creates a maximum effect of a creepy suspenseful horror. 


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Plot

It starts in 1963 when the Myers come home late at night and discover to their horror that little Michael has stabbed his older sister Judith to death. 15 Years later on October 30, 1978 Dr Loomis is on his way to Smith’s Grove a mental hospital to visit Michael. For the last 15 years Dr Loomis is convinced after therapy that Michael is pure evil and never can be let free. But when he arrives, on a stormy night, a lot of patients are roaming the lawn and Michael has escaped. 

While Dr Loomis is in pursuit of Michael, he finds out Michael is returning to Haddonfield his hometown. In Haddonfield lives Laurie Strode, who feels she’s being watched. When she has to baby-sit Tommy at Halloween Night, Michael has it out for her and her friends, Annie who has to baby-sit Lindsey across the street, and Lynda, and Bobby.


Why you should watch it

Halloween is an iconic movie with an iconic killer and an iconic final girl. After 40 years is still hasn’t lost in popularity. Nor does it feel old fashioned. It still is very much a film that can be enjoyed as much as 40 years ago. It’s a film that definitely withstood the test of time. It’s still stylish and feels fresh and innovative, it’s still very scary and the story is a must-see every year around Halloween. 

The films starts with a very thrilling scene of young Michael who kills his sister. It’s brilliantly filmed, through his eyes and through the mask he is wearing, it feels like we are little Michael. Only when his parents come back and he goes outside we see him in full, with his mask and in a clown suit. It sets the tone for a very disturbing tale and suspenseful atmosphere. 

Even in the present in 1978, we see shots taken from Michael’s point of view, like a Peeping Tom, that is very thrilling. For the most part of the film, he doesn’t do anything. We look over his shoulder and get to see that he’s watching Laurie. We see him standing on the pavement, or across the street, and between white sheets. That stalker feeling is a great setup for what’s to come. Only in the last part he starts his small killing spree. But this is also more focused on suspense than on gore and stays far away from shock value. 

Although the film has been critiqued by being misogynist, Michael also kills Bobby and it is Laurie who protects Tommy and Lindsey and who fights Michael. It’s all about how you want to look at things. If there’s anything moralistic about it, then it’s that you have to  beware of strange masked men. Michael is, like Dr Loomis said, pure evil and he’s not in any way portrayed as a villain who is to be admired. 

The kills aren’t gory, but aimed at suspense. The breathing sound of Michael wearing his mask is very creepy and the way he moves, slowly but with full intent and patience and power is also very frightening and commanding. The Bobby kill and Michael posing as Bobby wearing a white sheet and Bobby’s glasses is very funny. So even if he doesn’t know good from evil he does have a sense of humor. Add to this the gravestone of Judith at the head of the bed where Annie lies dead, and there’s also a bit of mystery.

Halloween is very simple and focused in setup, but all the more effective and scary. It focuses on tension and a perilous atmosphere, a creepy killer and normal likable teens.  The little storyline of the teens being teens is also very enjoyable and pleasant to watch and don’t feel like filler scenes. When Laurie is babysitting Tommy and watching The Thing from Another World (1951) it is a nice cosy and familiar setting. But the shots, the cinematography, the music within solid storytelling make this slasher film one that is a true classic.


My favorite part

I really liked the part when Michael has just come to Haddonfield and Laurie feels that she’s being watched. Before the killings start, the buildup in tension is amazingly done. The way he pops up everywhere and than vanishes in thin air. It’s a creepy gut feeling that makes you feel as uncomfortable as Laurie. His standing between the clotheslines is a great shot. It’s almost surreal. The white sheets flying in the wind, and he is as calm and still like he has no presence at all, no soul even. Like he’s only a vessel for pure evil and nothing else. That’s the most terrifying part.


Ratings

Rating: ★★★★★

Thrill factor: ★★★★★

Scare factor: ★★★★☆

Gruesome factor: ★★★★☆

Originality factor: ★★★★★

Entertainment factor: ★★★★★


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Cast and crew

Halloween is directed and written by John Carpenter and cowritten by Debra Hill. It stars Jamie Lee Curtis (Laurie Strode), Donald Pleasence (Dr Loomis), P.J. Soles (Lynda), Nancy Loomis/Kyes (Annie), Brian Andrews (Tommy), Kyle Richards (Lindsey) and John Michael Graham (Bobby).

Duration: 91 minutes. Music: John Carpenter. Cinematography: Dean Cundey. Edited by: Tommy Lee Wallace, Charles Bornstein. Produced by: Debra Hill. Production company: Compass International Pictures, Falcon International Productions. Distributed by: Compass International Pictures.


Check the trailer below


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