Halloween is a 1978 American slasher horror movie directed and scored by John Carpenter. It is the first installment of the Halloween franchise and pivots on a serial killer in Michael Myers (Tony Moran) and his undertakings in the humble town of Haddonfield as he stalks and murders teenage babysitters on the night of Halloween.
It indeed was written in the stars that Jamie Lee Curtis would end up being a respected Hollywood icon and her performance on here as Laurie, which so happens to be her breakout role, is phenomenal. Her character is just a normal teenage school girl trying to go about her daily business both in school as well as at a house where she is doing her babysitting duties. She has a likeable group of friends in Annie (Nancy Kyes) and Lynda (P.J Soles). She has normal teenage issues i.e. hasn’t been asked to Prom and she’s even contemplating breaking the norm by asking a guy she likes out to the event instead of the other way round. That said, little does she know what troubles lies ahead of her in the form of a knife-wielding psychopath.
I understood how unreceptive Laurie was to the very idea of Myers a.k.a. “The Boogieman” when the kids she is taking care of warn her of his presence from time to time even though she had recurrently witnessed the man herself earlier on. According to her, this mysterious man is just a myth, or rather a make-believe person as she so put it. I was very much convinced by her assessment because she represents a people in the real world who aren’t into superstitious things, I included, and thus as an audience member I was able to put myself in her shoes on that.
Additionally, I felt sorry for her later on in the film when her fears come to realization. She walks up a staircase to this dark bedroom where she discovers her friends one by one who were murdered in cold blood. I liked how expressive and genuinely terrified Curtis was as this character in this particular scene and from then on, watching her trying to avoid the murderous advances of Myers while also trying to keep the kids safe and sound was enthralling.
Another memorable character in all this was Samuel Loomis, played exceptionally well by Donald Pleasance. He is a former psychiatrist to Myers back when the latter was at the mental institution where he worked and he was also present on the night when Myers executed his first victim. Considering that it is through him that the psychopath escapes, although inadvertently, I got how and why he was shaky for a better part of the runtime. He is the only known man to have watched the eerie mannerisms of Tony Moran’s character while he was in lockup and it is through that that he knew how dangerous and unsafe it was to have him on the loose.
Loomis demonstrates his intentions of making up for the mishaps best when he makes it his personal business to hunt down the killer and stop him from causing any further harm. If it meant standing outside the former Myers residence to scare away incoming kids going about their trick-or-treat ways or patrolling the streets all night alongside the Sheriff, he was up for it. Even though the mutual sense of satisfaction in seeing Myers finally plummeting to his ‘death’ from a balcony was short lived, I was touched by Loomis’ desire and eventual relief in shooting the killer repeatedly during the closing stages of the 3rd Act.
The Premise, Merits and Demerits.
We have had several slasher films throughout the years. A good number were decent and equally, a good number were bad nonetheless, you can confidently come to the conclusion that they all wanted to replicate the success of John Carpenter in this very movie I am reviewing. It made tonnes of money i.e. $70 Million with such a low budget i.e. $300,000 and that just goes a long way to show you that you don’t necessarily need a lot of funding to explore such a riveting horror story and make the audience respond to it, even though it’s through their pockets.
The opening scene on here just has to be one of my best in cinema history. There is an excellent master-shot cum point-of-view shot where we follow a mysterious masked person creeping into a house in the night, walking up the stairs to a bedroom where he ambushes and repeatedly stabs an innocent young woman. Upon making his way out of the house after the incident, he is met with two adults who unmask him and that’s when the audience member is alerted that this person whom they probably thought was an adult, is just a child. Additionally, the way the camera dollies away from the characters as the child holds the bloody knife half-aloft was just exquisite. That’s how good the cinematography entrance is in this movie and it’s pretty much consistent all through.
The suspense was hair-raising; I was intrigued by the fact that I wasn’t sure when Myers was going to strike as he kept sneaking up on random people, predominantly Laurie, for scenes on end. The latter is amped up considerably during the finale in the 3rd act as Jamie Lee Curtis’ character takes on the masked murderer, who somehow happens to be resistant to death.
Another aspect that drew me even closer to the narrative was how magnified the intensity of Michael’s killings were. Whether it’s the classic slow face-slide when Annie is pinned onto the car window after having her throat slit or the shot featuring Lynda’s boyfriend suspended up against the wall after Myers sticks a knife through him, those moments were exhilarating and I needed that as a viewer.
The editing done here is also noteworthy; there were a substantial number of long shots used in the 1st and 2nd Act scenes and I admire that the flick went for that as opposed to just chopping scenes into different cuts which I am convinced wouldn’t have done justice to the viewing experience.
The score is superb; I adored the distinct music used when Myers was making an entry into a scene or when he was about to. Furthermore, the movie paying attention to detail by acknowledging how Myers would ideally breathe when wearing the mask was a big plus for me as well.
Summarily, I can’t forget to mention the well-executed jump-scares, can I? They had an unpredictable feel to them. Every time Myers inexplicably appears and disappears in a scene, I was genuinely shocked and surprised. My very best jump-scare was a shot where Laurie is leaning against a door and she thinks she’s finally taken down the apex murderer. No sooner had she tasted victory than Myers rose up in the background in a manner which I best associate with the W.W.E wrestler Kane and rushes towards her. The whole thing is in many ways awesome and I bet I’d want to watch this film again in future just to see the latter scene again; it’s that worthy.
In Kenya, we like to refer to something or somebody outstanding as “Baba Yao!” which when translated means “their father”. Halloween is without doubt the “baba yao” of motion-pictures associated to its genre. Despite the fact that Myer’s background story leading up to his comeback isn’t highlighted well, everything else was great and I look forward to watching and reviewing its sequels as October approaches, if you know what I mean. Stick around!