Monday, November 16, 2009

Halloween (1978)

TOP 100 FILMS: #57

Years after having killed his older sister, a now much older Michael Myers returns to his home town having just escaped the mental institution. Being sought after by Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence), Myers has found new victims in local teens who are spending Halloween night babysitting.

There are some films that despite their flaws are just legendary. From the opening scene of creative slasher bliss to the finale that screams horror, Halloween is the film that helped to define a genre. Aided by the Hitchcock classic Psycho (which came in at #81 on my list), Carpenter crafted a film so full of awesome moments, and slasher film fan boy love it's nearly impossible to recreate it (as Rob Zombie has proven twice over). What ties it all together though is its simplicity. Halloween doesn't come with any heavy handed morality tales, no prolonged scenes of grotesque violence or random characters shoved into moments simply for body count. Instead Carpenter follows the time tested rule of simple is usually best keeping the characters down to a handful.

With so few characters we get to spend time with them, see what they're like, and decide how we feel about their ultimate fate. Some we cheer for, some we fear for, and others we think the world is a bit better off without. Through this, we as the viewers gain a sort of intrigue, we get to play along with Michael, Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), and Loomis, all trying to figure out exactly what's going to happen next. The speeches given by Loomis, one of my all time favorite on screen characters, give a dark insight to this masked killer, who he describes as "pure evil." As films go Halloween gives more verbal chills than you can imagine.

Of course it doesn't hurt when you have one of the all time great musical scores leading the way. As memorable as the scenes it encompasses, Carpenter's knack of situational music and horror film mood really grabs at the viewer. Michael's distinct evil nature has taken some rather comical turns since the release of the original Halloween, but with Carpenter behind the camera everything is kept perfectly in check. The story all adds up, while maintaining a scary unknown quality that keeps the viewer guessing long after he credits have rolled. Few horror films pull off that sense of fear and darkness as well, and few these days ever will again.

One of the most fluid, scary, and dark slasher films of all time, Halloween is one hell of a genre parent figure.

3 better thoughts:

Kimberly said...

I it true the mask is a mask of William Shatner?

Univarn said...

@Kimberly from everything I've read it was a $2 Captain Kirk mask they purchased, painted, and cut the eyes wider.

Alfindeol said...

It's such a shame that a great movie like this spawned so many awful sequels and rip-ofs. Halloween is a top 10 Horror movie of all time.

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