Halloween (1978)

Dir: John Carpenter, 1978


With Hallowe’en being only around the corner, I thought it only fitting to look back at some of the most important horror films in history and what better way is there than to start with its namesake.

Master of horror John Carpenter’s 1978 classic redefined what horror was. So many releases, today, owe a debt to Carpenter and cinema wouldn’t be what it is without him.

Six year old Michael Myers, murders his sister.

Following the murder, Myers is committed to a mental asylum, under the care of Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance).

Fifteen years later, Myers escapes from the asylum and returns to his home town where begins to stalk teenager Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis).

Dr. Loomis knows where Myers is heading and chases after him, trying to stop the bodies from piling up.

Arguably the first successful slasher film, Halloween set the benchmark for every slasher film since.

Carpenter is able to conjure up a sense of unease and terror with Myers’ silent, masked killer, slowly walking through the streets and sneaking up on people.

Unusually, for a slasher film there is a notable absence of gore. The director made the right decision in omitting buckets of blood, giving it a more realistic and horrific feel.

Known simply as “The shape”, Michael Myers’ as an emotionless, cold and psychotic murderer is a chilling presence on the screen. His failure to feel anything puts him squarely into the realms of bogeyman territory.

Unflinching with an abnormally high tolerance of pain, the character is ambiguous as to, whether or not, he’s human, a ghost or some sort of other paranormal being.

Michael Myers is, clearly, the inspiration for Jason Vorhees of Friday the 13th part 2 et al.

Where Friday the 13th had an injection of black humour running through it, John Carpenter’s masterpiece strips away any humour and leaves you with just the raw terror.

A superb film that directors of today can only dream about making.


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