Halloween (1978) Review
Written by: Dirigible
"The night he came home" was the night the face of Horror changed forever. John Carpenter. The name is synonymous with the likes of...well...God. Carpenter stands at the top of the mountain of Horror reigning down over the many, many minions and wannabes. "Halloween" is his signature piece. In 1978 after sitting around with the studio mulling out a few ideas, they asked him to come up with a movie for Halloween that would scare. Carpenter, along with long time collaborator and friend Debra Hill, started writing a story about a killer's return to his home town. Originally classified as "The Shape" the killer eventually evolved into who we now know as Michael Myers. The name was taken from an elderly stage manager from England Carpenter had befriended years previously.
"Halloween" is the story, as I mentioned previously, of Michael Myers. A Haddonfield, Illinois resident who one night became what nightmares are made of. Halloween 1963 we are introduced to the 6 year old Michael who has just returned home from a fruitful night of trick 'r treating and is getting ready to turn in for the night. He is under the not-so-watchful eye of his older sister, Judith, who is more interested in her boyfriend and sex then in watching her little brother. Before the night is out, a legend is born.
Fast-forward to October 30, 1978 - 15 years since the infamous incident. We meet Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) the only living Myers left in Haddonfield. With Judith murdered and [as we soon find out] Mrs. Myers having committed suicide there was no one left to care for little Laurie so she was put up for adoption. [To this reviewer's recollection, no mention of what happened to Michael's father is ever made in the film. Perhaps I should watch it again...it is one of my favorites so I mean, I shouldn't have to because I should just know these things. Right?] I digress. Laurie, 17, is living a carefree life as a highschool senior when on Halloween 1978, her life is turned upside down by the big brother she never knew she had.
We are taken on a rollercoaster of suspence, thrill, and genuine fear as on this day HE has returned and the bodies have begun to pile up. Michael begins to stalk his sister from her highschool and through her neighbourhood waiting to discover what her routine consists of. Several scares send Laurie running for cover and thinking that she is being stalked by the boogieman. While she may believe it, her friends think she's nuts. They spend time talking her down and mess with her social life as she is somewhat timid around boys, her closest friend Annie (Nancy Loomis) has set her up with Ben Traymer the highschool jock Laurie has a crush on. In return for this "favor" for Laurie, as she is already set to babysit the annoying Tommy Doyle (Brian Andrews), she is also getting local second grader Lindsay Wallace (Kyle Richards) to watch while the rest of her friends play "hide the hotdog" with their boyfriends at Lindsay's house.
The Cinematography in this film is beautifully done, and some of the scenes we are given are so frightening to look at we don't even need to worry about Michael's rampage. From the delapidated rendition of the Myers' home to the classic "couch in the living room" scene, Dean Cundy set the bar high for all others that followed. The most mood filled and atmospheric scene in the whole film for me is when Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) is returning to the Sanitarium where Michael is incarcerated to bring him to the hearing he hopes will keep Michael locked away forever. Through the windshield of a car we follow a nurse driving Dr. Loomis in the pitch black of night up the winding road to the Sanitarium. The only light provided is that of the headlights and only the partition they provide glows on the details of the surroundings. This scene always leaves me feeling creeped out no matter how many times I watch it.
Taking typical hooks from Horror films at the time, Halloween uses Teenage Sex, Drugs, and Drinking as a main story element. Adding is a cast that is filled with circa popular actors the likes of Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Loomis, P.J Soles(I love 1980's P.J), and the ever talented Donald Pleasence make this an unforgetable film. Embodying our primal fears of the dark and the unknown, "Halloween" truly embodies what it means to be a horror film. If you like horror at all, this film belongs at the top of your list and immediately added to your collection.
John Carpenter's Halloween comes in at #2 on my top 10 list of best horror films ever made.