halloween | john carpenter | debra hill | donald pleasence | jamie lee curtis | tony moran | thriller | united states | slasher | michael myers | nancy kyes | p.j. soles | charles cyphers | kyle richards | brian andrews | nick castle | john michael graham | arthur malet
Director: John Carpenter
Writer: John Carpenter and Debra Hill
Starring: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis and Tony Moran
I have to say that I have fond memories of this film. I watched this when I was a kid with my mother. It scared me then and I have to say that this film is very well done. I did get the pleasure of seeing this in 4K at my local theater for the 40 anniversary as that was in preparation for the 2018 remake. I actually have the pleasure of seeing it now third time in the theater by taking Jaime who had never seen this. To get into this first, the official synopsis is fifteen years after murdering his sister on Halloween night 1963, Michael Myers escapes from a mental hospital and returns to the small town of Haddonfield to kill again.
The story isn’t complex, but it doesn’t need to be. Writer/director John Carpenter started the slasher genre to what it is today, so its historical significance is huge. The idea of a killer who doesn’t talk and just stalks his victims is amazing. He is somewhat creative in that he switches up his kills. Even more than that though, this film is a slow burn. The first half of the film is Michael seeing Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) drop off a key under the doormat of his former home and he is fixated on her. Also with her was Tommy (Brian Andrews), a little boy she babysits, so it makes sense he stalks him as well.
There are a lot of things that people bring up as issues for the film. An example is if Michael was locked up for fifteen years, how he learned to drive. From what we see in this film, he is a crafty person. I’m forgiving of this plot-hole. He is driven to do what he plans on doing. I do think that he could figure it out, especially if the car is an automatic which it looks to be. Maybe not drive as well as he does in the film, but still able to. There is also the issue with an interaction between Sheriff Brackett (Charles Cyphers) with his daughter Annie (Nancy Kyes) and Laurie. It is relayed that a Halloween mask was stolen, but we already saw him wearing it. I wish this line wasn’t there, but again it doesn’t ruin it. The one that bothers me the most is weapon dropping from Laurie. It is annoying, but fear makes people do dumb things.
It wasn’t until this last couple viewing that I appreciated the film as much as I did that first time. There are many subtle things in the film that I didn’t pick up on until this film. When Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) arrives in Haddonfield and meets with Sheriff Brackett, you can see Michael in the car drive past without Loomis noticing. There are also times that the white mask appears in the dark background and the characters can’t see it. These made my anxiety go up and I loved it.
With that being said, this film is great at building suspense. It actually is paced well despite nothing happening for a good chunk of it. It feels that this film benefits from building suspense through the stalking scenes that we get. When Michael starts to murder, it is non-stop and I think that balancing it very well. I think the ending is also fitting for the character they build. I almost wish they would have went with the original idea and left this a one off.
The acting in this film is great for what they were going for. Curtis is one of the greatest final girls of all time. It also gives her that status for scream queens in the genre and this is where it started. Going from that, she is such a timid young woman and has low-self esteem. Her character transformation fits. Pleasence is wonderful as the doctor. He is almost as intense as Michael himself in trying to hunt him down. Their obsession is opposite of what they are trying to do, but very similar. P.J. Soles is an underrated horror film actress and I liked her in this film. We also see her topless, which I won’t complain about. I loved Kyes attitude and I was a big fan. These three young women just play well off each other so it feels like they’re actually friends. The two kids did a great job in showing their fear as well. It helps build the tension. Shout out to the actors that portray Michael, Will Sandin as a boy, Tony Moran as the adult and Nick Castle as The Shape. They all do well in my opinion. If I have an issue though, I think the direction for the acting is an issue. Michael is an unstoppable killer, yet Laurie does some minor things that cause him to fall. It is a bit problematic for me.
Taking this back to a positive, which would be the effects in this film. They were done practically and look amazing. I was impressed there as well. There were subtle things here that I didn’t realize until this viewing either. There really isn’t a lot of blood, but when we do see it, it looks good. The death of Bob (John Michael Graham) probably couldn’t happen, but I still love it. I also like when Michael is stabbed in the eye with a hanger, we see the effects when his mask is ripped off later. This was a strong point of the film for me. I should also give credit to the cinematography as well.
I couldn’t go through this without talking about the score, which was done by Carpenter as well. It is the other part of this film that I love. The main theme is iconic and helps to make the scenes even more eerie feeling. They build as much tension as seeing Michael walking slowly toward our innocent characters. There are also musical cues throughout the film that work very well.
Now with that said, this film is one of the greatest horror films ever made. The story isn’t complex, but it unintentionally defined the slasher genre. The rules of them were invented and films would follow suite to what this one did. It is a slow burn film with a great payoff. The acting in this film is solid. The score is perfect for what it tries to do. The effects are solid and the editing of the film builds the required tension that is needed. I would highly recommend seeing this film if you are a fan of horror or not, it truly is a masterpiece and worth a viewing.
My Rating: 10 out of 10