Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween (1978)

Most people I know get into a horror movie mood this time of year. I am guilty of this myself. Already this month I’ve watched a plethora of horror flicks new and old and will continue to do so until the end of October. I don’t know why I love horror movies so much, but I’ve been into them since I was a kid and it doesn’t show any signs of changing anytime soon.

So what movie screams "October"? It’s pretty obvious that I’m talking about the Halloween series of films! The original was my marijuana of the horror world, starting me off with a bang and leading me into the harsher, more crack like flicks that were popular in the 80s (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser, Friday the 13th, etc.). The original was also the film responsible for beginning the slasher movie craze that still continues today (and heavily influenced my short film Stalk). So let’s harken back to the early days of blood drenched killer maniac cinema and work our way forward to the present day in this retrospective on the entire Halloween franchise.
The story of escaped mental patient Michael Myers, who killed his sister 15 years prior, and his return to his hometown to recreate his original crime by stalking a group of teenage babysitters on Halloween night.

When I want to watch a taut and scary horror film, I always reach for this on my shelf. Simple in its concept and brilliant in its execution, John Carpenter’s masterpiece still stands up 34 years after its initial release. From the basic cinematography that shows you just enough to make you use your imagination to the eternally creepy musical score by Carpenter himself, this film is a perfect example of taking an exploitation idea and turning it into gold. And even though this is a movie about teenagers getting killed by a lunatic it’s never about gore. There is nary a drop of blood in this flick which I feel makes it resonate more by forcing the audience to use their aforementioned imaginations. This to me is scarier than seeing buckets of blood flying across the screen.
The characters are written in such a way that they come off as real. Well, the Annie character gets a little grating at times, but we all knew someone like her when we were kids. Right? The acting from the young cast, including an impossibly young Jamie Lee Curtis in her first starring role, is pretty good for this type of film. In the case of Donald Pleasence’s obsessed Dr. Loomis, however, is where the movie really shines for me. He throws everything into the part and makes even the most inane exposition scene immensely watchable. And let’s not forget Nick Castle as “The Shape”, Michael Myers. His body language and freakish presence, assisted by that disturbing William Shatner mask, makes his character the stuff of nightmares. And the fact that the character is virtually immortal, which is never explained, is an awesome touch to make him all the more frightening. To this day I still check around corners when the lights are off in certain rooms of my residence.
And best of all, there’s the subtext introduced early in the film about fate. While there is no real reason given as to why Michael is stalking Laurie and her friends, there’s always the fate angle that states that maybe this was destined to occur, motivation or not. It’s something that stays in the back of my mind whenever I watch this masterpiece.

In my opinion this is a perfect horror movie that is just as effective today as it was in the late 70s.

5 out of 5

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