Directed by: John Carpenter
Written by: John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Starring: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tony Moran, Nancy Kyes, P.J. Soles, Charles Cyphers, Kyle Richards, Brian Andrews
Runtime: 93 min
A young boy kills his sister on Halloween of 1963 and is sent to a mental hospital. 15 years later, he escapes and returns to his hometown in order to wreak havoc.
Halloween (2018) is being released this week, and it's a direct sequel to the 1978's original, so why not go back to the 70s and watch one of its classics?
Even though everyone knows the story of Michael Myers, I'm still going to keep this spoiler-free since a lot of people might know this character without actually watching the movie. A lot of remakes, sequels, and spin-offs have been produced, but all of them are going to be retconned (thank God) in the direct sequel to the original coming out in the next few days. I couldn't be more hopeful...
Halloween is a horror classic that inspired tons of slasher films, and its core story is still relevant to this day. John Carpenter and Debra Hill's screenplay cleverly explores the concept of pure evil and youth's ingenuity, by incorporating the former in the character of Myers and the latter on stereotypical teens, who only do drugs or have sex without a care in the world.
Now, I do have to make this clear: this is a 70s movie. You can't watch a slasher film from 40 years ago with a 2018's mentality and knowledge of how movies are today. If you start to overthink stuff and really analyze this film without caring about when it was released, then you'll probably think this is one of the worst horror flicks ever. It isn't scary, it doesn't have huge set pieces or even well-developed characters ... for a 21st-century movie.
Nowadays, we use the word "cliche" a lot, especially in horror films, where silly jumpscares and characters who always make stupid decisions are trademarks. When Halloween came out, you couldn't really call its characters cliche since they weren't portrayed in hundreds of other movies yet. This film was one of the first to successfully use these formulaic characters. So, what made this movie so astonishingly famous and prominent? Besides its story, the mind-blowing direction and the addictive score.
John Carpenter both directed and composed the music for this film, which is something extremely rare. I just finished rewatching this classic, and his soundtrack is not going to leave my brain for a while. It seamlessly switches the tones of the movie, and it elevates the suspense throughout the more tense scenes. Everytime a distinct part of the score plays, the audience knows that Myers has to be somewhere close, creating brilliant build-ups to dozens of fantastic moments.
His direction is flawless. The way he plays with the background of every scene by changing the focus on a close-up or a wide shot is absolutely outstanding. The hand-held camera is excellently applied, and it helps to accompany the POV of the character, giving a better understanding of what he/she is actually seeing, hiding the potential scares and elevating once again the suspense.
The story delivers so many remarkable characteristics that became timeless and eventually turned out to be cliches in films of today due to their excessive use. From the villain who is literally crazy and wants to murder people on Halloween night just for the sake of it to the ignorant and naive teenagers who don't care about a thing in the world and make the silliest decisions every single time, this Carpenter flick is one of the most influential horror movies of all-time.
Additionally, they did all of this with an uncommonly low budget: 300,000$! This value was already considered low at the time, and it became one of the most profitable films of Hollywood to this date. They bought Myers' mask for one dollar! I mean, when I look at such a brilliantly directed and technically seamless movie like this, and then I find out that everything was made with this amount of money, I can't help but be utterly amazed.
It's still not a perfect film. There are some cringe-worthy acting moments throughout the entire movie. Nancy Keys is hugely annoying as Annie and P.J. Soles is just appalling as Lynda. These two are hard to watch and listen to, even with a 70s' mindset. Jamie Lee Curtis (Laurie Strode) is fine, but since the characters' scripts are all over the place, hers provided some excruciatingly over-the-top screams. The only one who is able to deliver a good performance is Donald Pleasence as Dr. Loomis. He has the best lines in the entire film, and fortunately, he makes good use of them.
I don't really have more issues to point out, but I do think that this movie lost a bit of its essence throughout the years. Its technical attributes aged well, but its scaryness didn't, and if you can't appreciate the rest with the right mentality, then this will not be a very entertaining time. However, if you do take into account everything and if you are able to change your millennial mindset to a 70s one, then you're in for a fun experience at home.
Halloween (1978) became one of the most influential horror movies of all-time, and it's a classic of the genre, acknowledged and acclaimed by every fan of cinema. From the ground-breaking John Carpenter's direction to his own memorable score, every technical aspect of this film is jaw-dropping and aged surprisingly well. With a story that would literally inspire hundreds of other movies, it's an entertaining and suspenseful time that you should spend with your friends and family. Just be sure to change your mindset to the 70s and ignore some of its silliness. After all, it's Halloween!