I recently had the pleasure of revisiting the film Halloween that debuted in 1978. I remember what a stir this film caused at the time as there were so few films that were like it. While it was not unprecedented, it did cement in the minds of Americans what would eventually be known as the slasher film. Halloween was written, directed, and scored by John Carpenter. The simple piano tune that heralded the appearance of Mike Meyers was a stroke of genius on the part of Carpenter and still has a chilling effect when revisited again decades later.
Halloween features veteran horror movie actor Donald Pleasance who played an excellent Dr. Samuel Loomis. Dr. Loomis would be the voice of reason and also a sort of narrator of the film telling the viewer what is happening and warning of the evil and danger of Michael Myers. Jamie Lee Curtis plays a protagonist who while afraid for her life was not immune to fighting back. Michael Myers was played by an actor who never reveals his face instead wearing what would become his trademark white mask and walking purposefully towards his intended victims.
Halloween established some of the tropes that would later become standard fare for all slasher films:
- There will be always a couple of teenagers that will run off and make out in a private, out-of-the-way room when a serial killer is at large.
- You may think the serial killer is dead. Even though you may think he’s dead and should be dead, he’s not dead. Seriously..he’s not dead.
- People who just dispatched a serial killer who was seemingly unstoppable will still linger around the body when they think the killer is dead, and ultimately turn their back on the body just a few feet away.
- Serial killers–even after being shot at point-blank range–will always come back for the sequel.
If you have not seen this film I recommend it. It would be fun to watch this back to back with the excellent Rob Zombie remake and compare the two. You can borrow both of them from the Cal Maritime Library.
Have a happy Halloween and remember–Don’t go into the basement!
—Review by Dean Jones