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I have just recently been through a stage where I wanted to see why it
is that horror films of the 90's can't hold a candle to 70's and 80's
horror films. I have been very public in this forum about the vileness
of films like The Haunting and Urban Legend and such. I feel that they
(and others like them) don't know what true horror is. And it bothered
me to the point where it made me go to my local video store and rent
some of the classic horror films. I already own all the Friday's so I
rented The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the original Nightmare On Elm
Street, Jaws, The Exorcist, Angel Heart, The Exorcist and Halloween.
Now the other films are classics in their own right but it is here that
I want to tell you about Halloween. Because what Halloween does is
perhaps something no other film in the history of horror film can do,
and that is it uses subtle techniques, techniques that don't rely on
blood and gore, and it uses these to scare the living daylights out of
you. I was in a room by myself with the lights off and as silly as I
knew it was, I wanted to look behind me to see if Michael Myers was
there. No movie that I have seen in the last ten years has done that to
me. No movie.
John Carpenter took a low budget film and he scared a generation of movie goers. He showed that you don't need budgets in the 8 or 9 figures to evoke fear on an audience. Because sometimes the best element of fear is not what actually happens, but what is about to happen. What was that shadow? What was that noise upstairs? He knows that these are the ways to scare someone and he uses every element of textbook horror that I think you can use. I even think he made up some of his own ideas and these should be ideas that people use today. But they don't. No one uses lighting and detail to provoke scares, they use special effects and rivers of blood. And it is just not the same. You can't be scared by a giant special effect that makes loud noises and jumps out of a wall. It's the moments when the killer is lurking, somewhere, you just don't know where, that scare you. And Halloween succeeds like no other film in this endeavor.
In 1963 a young Micael Myers kills his sister with a large butcher knife and then spends the next 15 years of his life, silently locked up in an institute. As Loomis ( his doctor) says to Sheriff Brackett, " I spent eight years trying to reach him and then another seven making sure that he never gets out, because what I saw behind those eyes was pure e-vil. " That sets up the manic and relentless idea of a killer that will stop at nothing to get what he wants. And all he wants here is to kill Laurie. No one know why he wants to kill her, but he does.( Halloween II continues the story quite well )
What Carpenter has done here is taken a haunting score, mendacious lighting techniques and wrote and directed a tightly paced masterpiece of horror. There is one scene that has to be described. And that is the scene where Annie is on her way to pick up Paul. She goes to the car and tries to open it. Only then does she realize that she has left her keys in the house. She gets them, comes back out and inadvertently opens the car door without using the keys. The audience picks up on this but she doesn't. She is too busy thinking about Paul. When she sits down, she notices that the windows are fogged up. She is puzzled and starts to wipe away the mist, and then Myers strikes, from the back seat. This is such a great scene because it pays attention to detail. We know what is happening and Annie doesn't. But it's astute observations that Carpenter made that scared the hell out of movie goers in 1978 and beyond.
Halloween uses blurry images of a killer standing in the background, it has shadows ominously gliding across a wall, dark rooms, creepy and haunting music, a sinister story told hauntingly by Donald Pleasance and a menacing, relentless killer. My advice to film makers in our day and age is to study Halloween. It should be the blue print for what scary movies are all about. After all, Carpenter followed in Hitchcock's steps, maybe director's should follow in his.
Halloween personifies everything that scares us. If you are tired of all the mindless horror films that don't know the difference between evil and cuteness, then Halloween is a film that should be seen. It won't let you down. I enjoy being scared, I don't know why, but I do. But nothing has scared me in the 90's, except maybe one film ( Wes Craven's final Nightmare ). If you enjoy beings scared, then Halloween is one that you should see. And if you have already seen it a hundred times, go and watch it again, back to back with a film like Urban Legend. Urban Legend will have you enticed at all the pretty faces in the movie. Halloween will have you frozen with fear, stuck in your seat, not wanting to move. Now tell me, what horror film would you rather watch?
And just to follow up after seeing Zombie's version, it makes you appreciate this that much more. This is a classic by definition. Zombie bastardized his version, but it doesn't take away from the brilliance of this one.
Halloween is not only the godfather of all slasher movies but the greatest horror movie ever! John Carpenter and Debra Hill created the most suspenseful, creepy, and terrifying movie of all time with this classic chiller. Michael Myers is such a phenomenal monster in this movie that he inspired scores of imitators, such as Jason Vorhees (Friday the 13th), The Miner (My Bloody Valentine), and Charlie Puckett (The Night Brings Charlie). Okay, so I got a little obscure there, but it just goes to show you the impact that this movie had on the entire horror genre. No longer did a monster have to come from King Tut's tomb or from Dr. Frankenstein's lab. He could be created in the cozy little neighborhoods of suburbia. And on The Night He Came Home...Haddonfield, Illinois and the viewers would never be the same. There are many aspects of this movie that make it the crowning jewel of horror movies. First is the setting...it takes place in what appears to be a normal suburban neighborhood. Many of us who grew up in an area such as this can easily identify with the characters. This is the type of neighborhood where you feel safe, but if trouble starts to brew, nobody wants to lift a finger to get involved (especially when a heavy-breathing madman is trying to skewer our young heroine.) Along with the setting, the movie takes place on Halloween!! The scariest night of the year! While most people are carving jack-o-lanterns, Michael Myers is looking to carve up some teenie-boppers. Besides the setting, there is some great acting. Jamie Lee Curtis does a serviceable job as our heroine, Laurie Strode, a goody-two-shoes high-schooler who can never seem to find a date. However, it is Donald Pleasance, as Dr. Sam Loomis, who really steals the show. His portrayal of the good doctor, who knows just what type of evil hides behind the black eyes of Michael Myers and feels compelled to send him to Hell once and for all, is the stuff of horror legend. However, it is the synthesizer score that really drives this picture as it seems to almost put the viewer into the film. Once you hear it, you will never forget it. I also enjoy the grainy feel to this picture. Nowadays, they seem to sharpen up the image of every movie, giving us every possible detail of the monster we are supposed to be afraid of. In Halloween, John Carpenter never really lets us get a complete look at Michael Myers. He always seems like he is a part of the shadows, and, I think that is what makes him so terrifying. There are many scenes where Michael is partly visible as he spies on the young teens (unbeknownst to them), which adds to his creepiness. If you think about, some wacko could be watching you right now and you wouldn't even know it. Unfortunately for our teenagers (and fortunately for us horror fans), when they find Michael, he's not looking for candy on this Halloween night..he's looking for blood. Finally, Michael Myers, himself, is a key element to this movie's effectiveness. His relentless pursuit of Laurie Strode makes him seem like the killer who will never stop. He is the bogeyman that will haunt you for the rest of your life. So,if you have not seen this movie (if there are still some of you out there who haven't, or even if you have), grab some popcorn, turn off every light, pop this into the old DVD and watch in fright. Trick or Treat!
To begin, this is a twenty year old film. Few films remain as suspenseful today as they did when it came out. (see: Night of the Living Dead -- had people running from the theatres when released but is very tame today). Clearly a movie fan brought up on the standards of today's movies will fail to find enjoyment of such 'classic' films. But when watching Halloween today perhaps it helps to consider a few things: Halloween was a low budget film (read: bad acting, poor special effects) made for only $300,000. It was not a product of Hollywood but a bunch of 20 year olds. This was the first film to feature the Boogeyman that Wouldn't Die which has been ripped off time and time again in the Friday the 13th, Elm Street, Scream, etc. You're used to it now, but Halloween did it first. Even Scream ripped off the look of the villian in Halloween. The theme of teenagers being stalked by a madman has been ripped of numerous times as well (again, Halloween did it first) but what seperates Halloween from the imitators is that it plays on traditional fears: The Thing that Wouldn't Die; the Boogeyman coming to get you; being followed and stalked; the boyfriend returning to the room under a bedsheet -- and it's not really him; someone hiding in the car... all things that have made our skin crawl in real life at one time or another. Watching Halloween tonight again for the first time in years I found myself again on the edge of my seat. Classic? Hell, yes. Maybe not to a generation who feels Scream was a 'good' horror movie but a classic none the less.
John Carpenter's Halloween is quite frankly a horror masterpiece. It
tells the immortal story of escaped mental patient Michael Myers, who
returns to his hometown on Halloween night to stalk and kill a group of
This was the first and without doubt the best in the Halloween franchise. Carpenter shows great restraint in pacing the story very slowly and building likable characters; unusual for a horror picture.
Even more unusual is the non-existence of blood and gore, and yet it remains the scariest Halloween to date.
Halloween marked the film debut of Jamie Lee Curtis and a defining point in the late great Donald Pleasence's career. A true classic.
My personal favorite horror film. From the lengthy first tracking shot
to the final story twist, this is Carpenter's masterpiece.
Halloween night 1963, little Michael Meyers murders his older sister. All-hallows-eve 1978, Michael escapes from Smith's Grove sanitarium. Halloween night, Michael has come home to murder again.
The story is perfectly simple, Michael stalks and kills babysitters. No bells or whistles, just the basics. It's Carpenter's almost over-powering atmosphere of dread that generates the tension. Like any great horror film, events are telegraphed long in advance, yet they still seem to occur at random, never allowing the audience to the chance to second guess the film.
The dark lighting, the long steady-cam shots, and (most importantly) that damn eerie music create the most claustrophobic and uncomfortable scenes I have yet to see in film. There is a body count, but compared to the slew of slashers after this it's fairly small. That and most of the murders are nearly bloodless. The fear is not in death, but in not knowing.
The acting is roundelay good. PJ Soles provides much of the films limited humor (and one of the best deaths), Nancy Loomis turns in a decent performance and then there is the young (at the time) Jamie Leigh-Curtis. Her performance at first seems shy and un-assured, yet you quickly realize that it is perfect for the character, who is herself shy and un-assured and not at all prepared for what she is to face. And of course there is the perfectly cast Donald Pleasence as the determined (perhaps a little unstable) Dr. Sam Loomis. Rest in peace Mr. Pleasence.
If the film has a detrimental flaw, it would be the passage of time. Since the release of this film so many years ago nearly countless clones, copies, rip-offs, and imitators have come along and stolen (usually badly) the films best bits until nearly everything about it has become familiar. Combined with the changes for audience expectations and appetites, one finds much of the films raw power diluted. To truly appreciate it in this day and age, it must be viewed as it once was, as something unique.
Never the less, I have no reservation with highly recommending this film to anyone looking for a good, scary time. Highest Reguards.
I was 20 back in 1978, and saw this on opening weekend. I knew nothing of
it, and after growing up on the old Hammer films, followed by a period of
almost nothing, this was quite a nice surprise. It really worked! Had me
checking the back seat in cars, gave me a sinking feeling when I lost my
keys, etc. The low death toll and relative lack of blood, as compared to
subsequent slasher films, has me really admiring how effectively it created
the atmosphere & suspense that kept me on edge, and made me jump at the
right places. I certainly don't jump any more at it, but I do have fun
remembering what it was like watching it when the now-cliches were fresh &
new. I laugh at the 'horror' flicks of the 30s & 40s, but when they were
new, I bet they were something. And I bet in another 20 years, today's
toddlers will find Scream/IKWYDLS, et al, to be tame and passe too, at least
compared to what they'll (& I'll) be watching then!
I'm surprised at the number of people half my age who wish they could've been around to see this film when it was brand new!
Looking back, Halloween probably scared me more when it was new, than other horror movies have,when they were new. Horror films are indebted to Halloween for breaking some new ground, and I can't wait for the next horror film that will do something on a similar scale.
Halloween is one of those movies that gets you skin deep! It is in my
opinion, the scariest movie of all time. Michael Myers is the best
boogeyman ever! He was just so terrifying! What makes Halloween so
special is that there was no special effects where you can tell how
computer animated it is, this was on a low budget and had a one note
score, yet managed to scare the Hell out of people. 25 years and this
movie still has the same effect as it did in '78.
It's about a boy Michael Myers, he kills his sister at the age of 6 and so many years later escapes the mental institution. Dr. Sam Loomis is after him and will do anything to get him back, since he describes Michael as "...pure evil. The blackest eyes, the Devil's eyes". Michael is on a mission though, to kill his other sister, Laurie, played by a new Jamie Lee Curtis. She has to babysit on Halloween, while her friends are out partying and of course, we know the rules, they get it! But Laurie may stand a chance since she's the virgin. ;D
Halloween pays many homages to Psycho, we have another character named Sam Loomis and Jamie Lee Curis, the daughter of Janet Leigh. Halloween is an absolute terrific movie that breaks boundaries and makes you lock the doors, bolt your windows, and turn off the lights! "They're gonna get you! They're gonna get you!". Halloween, the ultimate horror film!
Halloween(1978)stars a very young Jamie Lee Curtis, the late Donald
Pleasance, and, among others, P.J. Soles(the cap-brat from Carrie). The
story centers around the demented/catatonic-schizophrenic Michael Myers
and the brutal, cold-blooded murder of his oldest sister in 1963(done
by him). Now it is fifteen years later and Michael has escaped the
sanitarium and is headed for Haddonfield, Illinois, home of Laurie
Strode(Curtis), his sister who was adopted shortly after the 1963
murder. Laurie has no idea about her past and wanders around with her
friends, seemingly free of worry, and unaware that her every step is
under careful watch from hiding eyes.
In the long run I am at a loss for words. Everything is here. And it's even terrifying...and a slasher movie, what a combination. Slasher movies, to me, usually aren't scary. But Halloween is. Seriously, if you haven't seen it yet you are really missing out. It's a rare achievement in film history and is one of the best horror movies ever made. It's a perfect 10/10 all the way!!!
Halloween is one of the best examples of independent film. It's very well made and has more psychological elements to it than you might realize at first glance. It is a simple movie told very well. The music is perfect and is one of the most haunting scores... If you haven't seen this movie yet, you must check it out. The cast is all terrific. I wish they had never made sequel after sequel. The first one was by far the best and should have ended like it did without having a sequel. It was fun to see Jamie Lee Curtis in the movie. She hasn't seemed to age (she's just as gorgeous today, without the hairdo and seventies clothes). The scenes through the mask are one of the scariest things ever!
I must admit, this is one of my favorite horror films of all time. The
unique way that John Carpenter has directed this picture, opening the
door to so many mock-genres, it will chill you to the bone whether it
is your first time watching it or your fiftieth. The sound, the
menacing horror of Michael Meyers and the infamous scream of Jamie Lee
Curtis gives this film instant cult status and a great start for the
independent era. I love the music, I love the characters, the familiar
yet spooky setting, the simplistic nature of the villain, and the
random chaos of it all. There is no really rhyme or reason to the
killing in this first film, giving us a taste of Michael's true nature.
Is he insane, or in some way just a very brilliant beast? That question
may never be truly answered, but Carpenter gives us his 100% and more
devotion to this amazing masterpiece.
John Carpenter is the master of horror. While lately his films have not been the caliber that they once were (see Ghosts of Mars), Halloween began his powerhouse of a career. This is his ultimate film. While he did release other greats, I will always remember this one as the film that caused me to turn on all the lights, beware when babysitting, and check behind closed doors, because you never knew where the evil would appear next. Carpenter has this amazing ability to bring you into the world in which he weaves. With the power of his camera, he places these images of Meyers in places you least expected while giving you the perception as if the murderer is right next to you. I loved every scene in which we panned back and there was Michael, watching from the distance, without anyone the wiser. That was scary, yet utterly brilliant. I loved the scenes in which Carpenter pulled your fright from nearly thin air. There you would be, minding your own business, when suddenly that horrid mask would appear out of nowhere. Like the characters, you too thought it was just a trick of the eye, but that is where Carpenter gets you, it isn't. Michael isn't a ghost, he is a human being (or at least we think), yet he has a stronger mental ability than most of the main characters. This leads into some really dark themes and unexplored symbolism, but even without that, this is a spooky film.
Then, if you just didn't have enough of Michael just vaporizing in the windows of your house, Carpenter adds that chilling theme music. I still have that tapping of the piano keys in my mind, constantly wondering if Meyers is looking at me through the window. Carpenter has found the perfect combination of visual frights and chilling sounds to foreshadow what may happen to our unsuspecting victims next. It is lethal, and it is done with refreshing originality and more unique thrills than anything released by today's Horror Hollywood could muster. Carpenter's Halloween is a breath of fresh air in the midst of what could be a rough horror year, with actual scares being replaced by Paris Hilton, you know that the quality isn't quite the same.
Finally, I would like to say that even the simplistic nature of the opening murder in this film is terrifying and chilling. The use of the "clown" mask sent shivers up my spine. The way that it was filmed with that elongated one shot using the child's mask as if it were our own eyes is still one of the best horror openings ever! It completely sets the tone for the remainder of that film. You have the babysitter theme, you have the childish behavior which carries with Michael throughout the film, and you have the art talent of Carpenter all rolled into one. I could literally speak for hours upon hours about this film, but instead I would rather go watch it again. It is worth the repeat visit many times!
Overall, I think this is one of the most outstanding films in cinematic history. Skip all those foreign films that think that they are going to chance the face of movies leave it to a budget tight Carpenter and the slasher film genre. This singular movie redefined a whole generation of horror films, and still continues to be an influence on modern-day horror treats. The lethal combination of a genuinely spooky murderer, the powerful cinematography of the events (which normally doesn't amount to much in horror films), and the beauty of Jamie Lee Curtis is exactly what makes Halloween that film above the rest. Sure, Freddy is cool and you feel sympathetic for Jason, but Michael is real, he is troubled, and he is on the loose lusting for the blood of babysitters. What can be better?
Grade: ***** out of *****
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