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29 October 2011

Halloween (1978) [Horror Marathon] 30#

Directed by: John Carpenter
Genre: Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Runtime: 93 Minutes
Now that I have fully watched the film I can safely say, this is an extremely influential horror film will certainly scare you in some way. It is one of the scariest films around and certainly one of the best of its time. John Carpenter who would later direct “The Thing” handled the film with care and successfully made it hauntingly thrilling with its suspenseful plot and well-known theme.  You’re put on constant edge and the film truly sets a standard for modern horror films by far.

Halloween night 1963, six-year-old Michael Myers inexplicably slaughters his teenage sister. His psychiatrist Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) can't penetrate Michael's psyche after years of institutionalization, but he knows that, when Myers escapes before Halloween in 1978, there is going to be hell to pay in Haddonfield. While Loomis heads to Haddonfield to alert police, Myers spots bookish teenager Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and follows her, constantly appearing and vanishing as Laurie and her looser friends Lynda (P.J. Soles) and Annie (Nancy Loomis) make their Halloween plans. It is not long until Myers wreaks havoc among Laurie and her friends. 

Introducing Jamie Lee Curtis aged 20 in a role of the teenaged Laurie. First thing to say is she looks very mature for her age as well as her voice. Second, she is one great actress and I do not care if people say the acting is mediocre. For her first film, she did a refreshing job in capturing the stereotypical nerdy American girl. Not to say this is bad, because she did it so wonderfully. In addition, she is the scream queen of the film and is the person you will likely be the reason for remembering this film. The actor of Michael Myers Tony Moran should be appreciated also, despite having no voice. The way this man (if you can say man) moves around is plain creepy and every time he is on screen he definitely makes an impression.  

“Halloween” invents influential stereotypes and horror conventions that would soon become the standard for horror. John Carpenter’s direction changed the way horror was made forever; therefore, “Halloween” stands as one of the most influential horror films of all time. With the film’s use of female nudity, reinforcing the idea of being vulnerable would become a standard in future films. Now female nudity in horror films is more frequent. Just look at horror throughout the 80’s and 90’s and notice how nudity is used frequently- especially shower scenes.

The 1970’s was the rise of more extreme films, especially for horror. Many claim the film to be the starting film of the “slasher” craze, but keep in mind “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” came out four years before this. Either way, these two films began the slasher genre off. Of course, we all know that “Psycho” came out long before these in 1960, but here things started to become a craze.  Although not ultra-violent, we are still confronted with some gore that scares you more by the thought of what is happening than actual visual shocks. Of course, it still scares you to see characters encountering Myers.  

The reason the film is so influential is the amazing suspense and thrills it holds. As soon as the film begins, you are warped in to the film. It uses new techniques and original ideas that make it a major influence on the horror genre. Its use of first person was impressive and immersed the viewer, as well as the heavy breathing that accompanied several scenes with Michael Myers. Even the narrative of the story felt unique in some way. The set-up is simple and elegant, a psychotic murderer on the loose, who seems demonic by the end of the film.

(Left to right) Laurie, Lynda,  Annie
One thing you will always remember the film for is the brilliant music. It is so simple, but horrifically elegant the ears. It is so unsophisticated it is frightening. Even the opening sequence sends chills up your spine as we see that slow tracking zoom towards a pumpkin as we are introduced to the opening credits. The music adds to the suspense of the film, as does most horror films and gives the film such a great atmosphere. Keep in mind, John Carpenter was the composer of the soundtrack. 

If you have seen “Scream”, you will notice it discusses the ‘horror’ rules. Many of them have been invented in this film. The rule of “to survive you have to be a virgin” definitely applies here. Through the careful direction from Carpenter, Laurie is shown as a virgin. Another thing this film has invented is the nerdy and/or outcast character ends up being the hero or survivor. The third rule that is noticeable is the idea of the killer coming back to life, which is a running gag within the “Scream” series. Only now, I realise most of the rules mentioned in the “Scream” series after watching “Halloween” and it is impressive how much of an impact the film had.  

Another thing in the film that fascinated me is how this is a John Carpenter film, and in one scene, we see the original “The Thing” being played on TV. It is interesting to note because four years later, along came John Carpenter’s “The Thing”. Just thought that was an interesting piece of trivia there.

I am sure the audience got some fair response to of this film during its original run. It may have had a similar effect as “Psycho” did by scaring the wits out of them. At the time, the film was a huge critical success despite not having much advertising. It got rave views, mostly positive and went on to gross $60 million worldwide. Even Roger Ebert said “a movie so violent and scary that, yes, I would compare it to Psycho” at the time. Today it is considered a classic, and with good reason. 

Finally, our conclusion to the film ends us with the thought that he just might come back. Well, he does for a series of acclaimed bad sequels (and a remake). “Halloween” is still scary today despite the acting being considered mediocre. I is definitive to the genre, amazingly thrilling to watch and is a film that will leave a relatively strong impression on you.  

My Rating: 9.5/10


  1. Very, very good review! You have convinced me to watch it tonight! But that would require me having a copy of the film... which I don't. Perhaps I'll go out and buy it? If not, I'll just stick to my original plan of watching Scream for the first time. It's inspired by it (like you say), after all. Keep up the awesome reviews!

  2. Brilliant review, Thomas. I bought this one on DVD recently, and will defiantly be looking forward to watching this come Halloween

  3. thanks for your thoughtful and encouraging comment! You should definitely watch it, even if it means downloading then buying later.

  4. Good review. Couldn't agree more. :)



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