Directed by John Carpenter
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasance, P.J. Soles and Nancy Loomis
Homicidal maniac Michael Myers, locked away in a mental asylum after murdering his sister when he was a child, escapes his confines and heads for the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois, with his psychiatrist Dr Sam Loomis in hot pursuit. Upon arrival in the town, Myers wastes little time in acquiring a mask and a knife before setting off on a murderous rampage with the teenagers of Haddonfield locked in his sights. As Myers terrorises the population, he is confronted with the resourceful babysitter Laurie Strode who may be the only one able to stop the masked maniac before he can claim more victims.
One of the most successful and iconic horror films of all time, and the film that kick-started the slasher boom which dominated horror cinema throughout the 1980s. I am of course talking about John Carpenter’s iconic classic Halloween.
Every critic and their dog have written thousands upon thousands of words about Halloween, praising it for its visual mastery, its iconic musical score, its stand out scares, and of its overall importance in the history of the horror genre. I feel that there is very little that I can contribute to the discussion that probably hasn’t been said already. But let’s give it a go anyway.
The film on a technical level is masterful in its presentation from both a visual and an audio standpoint. The cinematography is brilliant throughout, its brilliance becoming immediately apparent from the film’s the now iconic opening of a young Michael Myers claiming his first victim, shot entirely from a first-person perspective. The slow pans and the careful framing of Myers throughout the film is also a work of brilliance, sometimes just keeping him as a sinister shape in the background, making his presence all the more frightening.
The musical score, composed by John Carpenter himself, is excellent and has rightly become an iconic piece of horror history, especially the now famous theme that manages to perfectly set the films spooky tone, and also makes for a very inappropriate choice of mood music when on a date.
Despite the brilliance on a technical level, the acting from the cast at large is pretty bog standard when you watch it.
The supporting cast is largely a list of the kind of stock characters that would eventually pop up in all the slasher films that followed – boring, clichéd and really only in the film so they can be killed off. They might as well wear labels that read Victim #1, Victim #2 etc., and emit the same sounds made by a dog’s squeaky chew toy every time the talk.
Thankfully, however, the same cannot be said of the lead actors, both of whom deliver stellar performances.
Jamie Lee Curtis is brilliant in her star-making role of Laurie Strode, the original “final girl”, a quick thinking and resourceful heroine, who excels at making life difficult for the masked madman stalking her.
Donald Pleasance casts off his Bond villain past in a commanding performance as Dr Loomis, perfectly capturing the crazed obsessive nature of a pursuer who knows full well, the kind of monstrous evil that lurks behind that iconic white mask.
Also on fine form is William Shatner as Michael Myers, sort of. The mask that Myers wears throughout is a painted Captain Kirk mask, with the hair messed up ever so slightly, and certainly changed the way I watched Star Trek – it makes you think differently about why the red shirts keep getting killed off every time they go on mission with Kirk.
To write about Halloween is possibly the most difficult task I’ve undertaken in this month long odyssey I have embarked upon.
In writing this review I had numerous starts and stops, as I banged my head against the keyboard trying to find something original to say. What new things could I say about a film that has been written near constantly about by horror critics and scholars for over 30 years?
Well, what I will say to you dear readers is simply this: get the film watched.
There’s a reason that people have written about, talked about and paid homage to Halloween: it’s because it’s brilliant. Check it out and experience a premium slice of horror history.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★