Movie Reviews 64 – Halloween (1978)

On the face of it, Halloween is a pretty straight forward and even shallow story. Little five year old Michael Myers goes psycho and kills his sister on Halloween eve. He gets sent to a psychiatric hospital and exactly 15 years later escapes to return to the same neighborhood in Haddonfield where he first perpetrated his heinous crime. Once there, he starts killing off teenagers. But the devil is in the details and those details are what made this director John Carpenter’s first box office hit and more importantly, set the bar for the slasher film onslaught of the 80’s.

Hot on the trail of Michael is Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) who was Michael’s psychiatrist. For a long time Dr. Loomis tried everything he could to treat Michael until he came to the inevitable conclusion that Michael was an irredeemably vile and evil entity and nothing was going to change that. To wit, “I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up”. From that point on all that Loomis could do was make sure Myers was contained and upon his escape he did all he could to sound the warning to deaf ears and thus tried to stop Michael himself. Right in the middle of Michael’s second spree in Haddonfield we find babysitter Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) seemingly just one step away from Myers as his guts the other teens. Although not evident at first, Myer’s target is Laurie herself, the exact details of this only being made later on in the series.

The entire Halloween tie in is loose at best. The events all take place Halloween eve, but except for a few references and scenes, you’d hardly notice it. Conspicuously absent are kids ringing doorbells at night and the two kids who do play significant parts in the movie are content to stay at home and watch classic horror movies.

The popularity of the film relies on executing and sustaining the tension throughout the film, all elevated by a stirring and memorable score created by Carpenter himself. Definitely one of those ‘must see’ horror movies to anyone who has any interest in horror history at all.

One a pure geek note, Science Fiction enthusiasts will note the sheriff being named “Leigh Brackett” as a small homage to the famed writer. All the more poignant given that the real life Leigh Brackett was female.

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