Reviewing John Carpenter’s seminal classic Halloween, on its fortieth anniversary, is a bit of a fool’s errand. In its day, the film embodied the very essences of ‘new-age’ horror filmmaking. The relatively corny chillers of the day, barring Wes Craven’s equally captivating early work, were more for laughs than jumps. The release of Halloween irrevocably changed the course of the horror genre forever. In fact, so many elements of the picture have become genre troupes that it becomes difficult to appreciate the level of craftsmanship presented on-screen.
High school student Laurie Strode (Jaime Lee Curtis) is terrorized by mental hospital escapee Michael Myers during a violent murder spree on Halloween night in 1978. The serial killer has returned home to the town of Haddonfield, Illinois the place of his childhood traumas and targets his last remaining blood relative after being locked up for the last 15 years. Meanwhile, Michael’s innocent targets are unaware they are being stalked by the deranged madman. Only Myers’s longtime psychiatrist Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) makes it his mission to stop the rampage.
Halloween and Psycho must be considered as the two most influential films of the horror genre. Both were a massive success with critics and audiences and each film spawned a wave of imitators and sequels. In this iconic slasher flick, unsuspecting audiences are treated to top-notch filmmaking and economical use of gore for maximum visceral impact. Director John Carpenter would go on to make several other entertaining and distinguished films over his forty-year career, but he will forever be known as the creator of Michael Myers and that chilling theme music.
Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, Nancy Kyes