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A true classic of its genre
TheLittleSongbird1 October 2011
There was once a time where I wasn't crazy about horror but over-time I have grown to appreciate it. Halloween really is a true classic of its genre, it is genuinely scary, taut and is pretty much the only movie of the franchise in my opinion that is not only truly effective after all this time but also where everything works.

Halloween is very well made for starters, with atmospheric lighting and camera angles definite things to like. The score is resolutely haunting, the story is tightly paced and compelling, John Carpenter's direction is superb with some inspired, efficient techniques and while I have heard better the dialogue is good enough with some sharpness and nothing really that stands out as too cheesy or stilted.

The acting is very good, and the characters especially Michael Myers are iconic. Jamie Lee Curtis is more than just a pretty face, her acting seems very genuine and she gives her character welcome gravitas. Donald Pleasance is excellent too, while Michael Myers as a character is the personification of terror.

Halloween also works so well because of its atmosphere. It doesn't rely on excessive and cheap gore to make its point, or frenzied camera angles and the like. What it has is real suspense and genuine jolts especially in the last twenty minutes.

All in all, a true classic. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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A True Masterpiece
Michael_Elliott31 October 2009
Halloween (1978)

**** (out of 4)

It's hard to believe its been thirty-years since this thing popped onto screens and it's even harder to believe all the countless imitators that have followed. It's hard to do so now but if you clear the needless remake out of your mind and the various plot twists that would follow in all the sequels, this film remains incredibly true to form and hasn't lost one bit of its power. The story is pretty simple as Michael Myers returns to his hometown fifteen years after killing his sister and begins to stalk three babysitters. Such a simple plot line yet this film is the perfect example of not needing money to make some terrific and in the end this film remains one of the greatest horror films ever made. I've always loved the bit from Roger Ebert's review where he quotes Hitchcock as saying he loves to play an audience like playing a piano. That's pretty much what Carpenter does here as we haven't an idea why The Shape is stalking these girls or even what he is exactly. This entire mysterious form would be lost due to various elements of sequels but, again, it's best to put those elements out of your mind if you can. Carpenter's mastery behind the camera can be seen early on with the brilliant opening sequence that takes us from outside the house, to the murder upstairs and then back outside. This is a now classic sequence and it still holds up well today. The middle sequence of the film is perfectly written for us to get to know the characters but I love how Carpenter also uses it to build up the atmosphere of it being Halloween. The various pumpkins, the horror movies on television and even something as simple as the leaves falling perfectly puts us in the mood for everything that's going to follow. Then there's the final fifteen-minutes, which are just downright brilliantly executed and I'd say some of the best moments the genre has to offer. There's enough suspense in this sequence for two films but the same Carpenter builds everything up when The Shape is walking across the street with Jamie Lee Curtis' character pounding on the door is remarkably done. The performances by the entire cast are top-notch as everyone from Curtis to Nancy Loomis and P.J. Soles fit their roles wonderfully well. Then there's Donald Pleasence turning in a now legendary performance in the role that he will always be remembered for (which is saying a lot when you look at how many wonderful films he was in). I love the way you can read his eyes to feel everything that he's feeling and the way he delivers the lines are top-notch. Then we have the terrific music score by Carpenter, which is scary enough on its own without anything we then see in the movie. Thirty-years later many, many films have come along with the same formula but nothing has ever come close to capturing the power of this film.
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Influential masterwork - one of the best low budget horror films ever made
Leofwine_draca27 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not sure how much there is to say about this undisputed horror classic that hasn't been said already but here goes: John Carpenter's influential slasher movie is a superb example of low-budget film making. Despite being made on the cheap, with home-made synthesiser music from Carpenter and a lead of relative unknowns, HALLOWEEN still stands firm today as the pinnacle of the slasher genre. Many films have since tried to imitate the look and feel of this movie but all have failed, lacking skills in expertise film-making and instead preferring to show torrents of blood and gristle in an attempt to shock/disgust the audience instead of really frightening them.

The film's opening, with the P.O.V. shots from a killer as he goes about the murder of his own sister, may recall similar moments in BLACK Christmas but they are used far more effectively and copiously throughout the film, really putting us into the evil mind of the killer as he stares impassively at the people he is about to kill. The film is light on plot, with all of the events taking place within 20 hours; Myers escapes from the hospital, is pursued to Haddonfield by Dr Loomis, and begins to murder a bunch of teenagers. That's all there is to it. So simple, yet so effective, the film's casual simplicity is what draws you into the movie: the first half an hour is deceptively slow, introducing all the lead characters and inserting lots of little foreboding shocks and scares like the ace scenes where Laurie notices Myers watching her from behind a hedge or clothesline.

From then on, there are a protracted number of stalk and slash sequences, all played out slowly with lots of build-up and a sudden resolution as the victim is killed (apart from the finale, which turns into a game of cat and mouse between Laurie and Myers). Carpenter's camera-work is wonderful and unsettling, remaining totally unpredictable throughout, and his tinkly music score has been much imitated as well but never equalled. The main theme tune is an instantly recognisable and hauntingly atmospheric score that beats any rival tunes from the main studio guys.

The cast all do their darndest to make the film work, and succeed. Jamie Lee Curtis stands out as tough but human heroine Laurie, forced to face the evil head on and do her best to fight it, and found herself typecast for the next four years as a result of her efforts. Nancy Loomis and P. J. Soles are also good and realistic as everyday teenagers who unexpectedly meet their maker on that fatal Halloween night. The only really familiar face in the cast is Donald Pleasence as Dr Loomis, Myers' obsessed psychiatrist who has come to believe that his patient is pure evil and cannot be stopped or cured. Incredibly the role was originally written for Christopher Lee! However, Pleasence, always an undervalued horror actor I believe, is excellent as Loomis, going way over the top ("his eyes... the devil's eyes!") - he may be nuttier than the killer he's after! Seriously, Loomis plays a pivotal role and created such a memorable character that he too was forced to return in sequel after sequel with Michael.

The key secret to Carpenter's success is that he doesn't use gore as a method to scare the audience, realising that bloody prosthetics don't create real terror; instead, he relies on old fashioned jump-cuts, sudden bursts of music and shocking surprises, like characters stepping out of the darkness on to the screen unexpectedly. With at least twenty such scenes occurring within the film, this really is a frightening one to watch and not recommended for those with a nervous disposition (I remember watching it one night alone in the house as a kid... couldn't sleep that night... too busy looking and listening out for Myers). The finale is the best part of the film, with growing horror as Laurie realises that Myers may be an indestructible foe after all as he repeatedly rises from the seemingly dead to attack her one more time.

Although by now, many of the scares and methods that Carpenter uses have been diluted by the sequels that followed and the legions of imitators, HALLOWEEN still packs a punch and is miles ahead of any modern-day competition, such as SCREAM, which becomes over-complicated and too slick, self-referential and self-indulgent for its own good. What we have here is a simple tale of good vs evil, a classic horror story of the boogeyman coming home to kill, and one of the best horrors ever made!
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Golden Age of Horror
SnoopyStyle4 December 2013
Michael Myers kills his older sister Judith Myers when he was six. Fifteen years later, Michael escapes the sanitarium. He returns to Haddonfield, Illinois. It's Halloween and he grabs a white William Shatner mask. He starts stalking Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). Her friends Annie Brackett (Nancy Kyes) and Lynda van der Klok (P. J. Soles) dismisses her concern. Dr. Samuel Loomis (Donald Pleasence) is on Michael Myers' trail.

It's the movie that launched endless sequels, and the careers of Jamie Lee Curtis and even John Carpenter. This is his first big hit. But there is more. It's the start of the golden age of horror. There are killers with name recognition. We get scenes from the killer's POV. Horror is moving into new territories. Michael Myers is possibly the first well known killer movie character. It's interesting that the adult Michael Myers really doesn't start killing until later in the movie. There isn't as much slashing in this slasher movie as most would expect. It is more creepy than gory. The iconic music just adds to the creepy atmosphere. It's also such an incredible idea that this low budget indie horror would become so iconic and have so much influence. Considering that Donald Pleasence is the most experienced of anybody on the set, it is truly amazing that this was so well made.
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The Prototype
Hitchcoc21 December 2016
No, it's not the first slasher movie, far from it. But it granted legitimacy to the genre. The setup and the quality of the acting and the timing of events is startling. We are brought into the insanity that is Michael Myers. The initial event that brought him to the asylum is graphic and horrifying. This movie begins later and Myers is on the loose. Jamie Lee Curtis is the teenager that becomes central to the plot. She is a good choice because she is no pushover. As Myers attacks and attacks and attacks, she uses he resilience to withstand his assault. It's a little remindful of Sigourney Weaver in Aliens (the second movie) when there is so much to lose, you are going to go down fighting. Of course, this film launched a bevy of sequels and copycat teenage slasher films, but this one is so nicely crafted that it rises above the rest.
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Light the pumpkin
Prismark1028 October 2018
John Carpenter directed this low budget classic horror film.

Carpenter also provides an irritating slasher style soundtrack that is louder than the dialogue.

The film opens with a young boy called Michael killing his sister in Halloween. It then goes forward 15 years when Michael has escaped his mental hospital.

Hot on his heels is the psychiatrist, Doctor Loomis (Donald Pleasance) convinced that Michael will kill again.

Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is the young babysitter who along with her friends are being stalked by Michael.

Carpenter builds tension slowly along with some gratuitous topless scenes of teenage girls. He creates a creepy atmosphere with the Halloween paraphernalia.

The television is showing the movie The Thing from Another World, a movie Carpenter would go on to remake. More importantly he has a genuine heroine in peril in Jamie Lee Curtis.

The killings are horrific but less bloodthirsty than modern movies. In Michael Myers he also has an indestructible killer, The Boogeyman who never stays dead. Handy for all future sequels.
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Maybe the Most Successful Slasher of the Cinema History
claudio_carvalho28 August 2020
In 1963, in Haddonfield, Illinois, the six-year-old Michael Myers stabs his sister to death in the Halloween night and is confined in a mental institution. In 1978, Michael Myers flees from the institution on the Halloween Eve carjacking his psychiatrist Dr. Samuel Loomis (Donald Pleasence) and heading to his hometown. On the next morning, Michael stalks the high school student and babysitter Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) that has a sixth sense that is followed. However, her best friends Annie Brackett (Nancy Loomis) and Lynda Van der Kiok (P.J. Soles) mock her. Meanwhile Dr. Loomis arrives in Haddonfield looking for his patient.

John Carpenter's "Halloween" is maybe the most successful slasher of the cinema history tha became a classic. With the budget of only US$ 320,000, this film surprised with the world with about 47 million-dollar box office only in USA and introducing Jamie Lee Curtis to her fans. Further the franchise, remake, video game, toys, and many other attractions. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Halloween: A Noite do Terror" ("Halloween: The Night of Horror")
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Even now I get a chill down the spine.
Sleepin_Dragon9 November 2015
I must have watched this movie a hundred times or more, apart from being possibly the greatest horror movie of all time, it's a damn good movie in its own right. Fantastic story, really well acted, plus it has one of the best musical scores I have ever heard. How many films can boast a soundtrack that can evoke such feelings as Halloween? not many. 37 years later and it's as watchable today as it was back then.

Talk about getting the acting balance spot on, Jamie Lee Curtis made the perfect victim, brilliantly set against Michael Myers, the perfect bad guy, and Donald Pleasance was utterly flawless as Doctor Loomis. I hadn't realised just how good Donald Pleasence was in this film, the speech he made was almost iconic.

It plays on so many of our fears, the young Michael in a clown mask, still as shocking today as it was back then. The thought of the bogeyman following you home, waiting on a street corner for you etc, the list is endless.

I cannot believe having just watched it the lack of blood and gore, goes to show it simply didn't need it, it's the suspense and fear that creates the horror.

There have been so many rip offs and 'homages' to Halloween, but there will only ever be one King of the Horror films, and that's Halloween! Thank you John Carpenter. 10/10
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My brothers keeper (not)
kosmasp3 May 2019
So watching this again after a long time (it was a double bill with the new Halloween from 2018) refresehed my memory in a good way. First of all the movie really aged well. I was a bit surprised about the nudity and all the teenage talk in general, but most of all I was surprised to see that Jamie Lee's character was or rather is not the sister of the killer.

That is clear pretty early on in the movie and something that would "change" in the sequels. Now having that out of the way and a very violent POV beginning, this really stirs things up. The original music that is so famous, even people who haven't seen the movie know it, is giving viewers a chill. And while the hairdos actually may be the one thing that has aged, the performances are really good. This is a classic for a reason, even if it may have the occasional flaw
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An Undeniable Classic
gavin694226 November 2006
Fifteen years after killing his older sister, Michael Myers escapes from the asylum to wreak havoc on the town of Haddonfield, Illinois. At the same time, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) uses her time to babysit two youngsters and Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance) begins to hunt the madman. When the three collide, the you-know-what hits the fan.

What do you say about a film that has been analyzed for over 25 years, praised by almost everyone and copied by some of the biggest people in the horror industry (although it is hard to be bigger than John Carpenter, really). Everything has been said, but I will try to say it again in my own words.

This movie does everything right for the budget it was given and the time period it was filmed in. Mixing innovative new ideas with several homages to Alfred Hitchcock (not least of which is casting Jamie Lee Curtis, the daughter of "Psycho"'s Janet Leigh). We have scenes that are much too dark to see what is going on, but set a very good mood. We have first-person perspective from the killer or from over the shoulder of the killer (an often imitated technique). But best of all, I liked how the film constantly built suspense without ever letting the viewer relax (you never knew when the killer would strike).

A criticism could be that there is absolutely no gore in this film at all... maybe only a spoonful of blood. But somehow Carpenter does what others have failed to do and made the deaths such an inconsequential part of the killer genre. Unlike Freddy or Jason, who hack their victims in half, Michael can kill off-screen and still be menacing.

I was a bit curious how scary a killer could be when he stalks his prey in a station wagon, because nothing says terror less than the soccer mom vehicle of choice. But it worked. Carpenter employed many distant angles, as if we were watching the prey from a distance, tracking them, closing in for a kill.

I could complain that the women of this film were not attractive at all (especially the hermaphrodite Jamie Lee Curtis), but somehow it did not seem to matter. PJ Soles, who played Lynda, totally kept my interest as a victim. And I mean totally. The other girl, Annie, I could have done without. Writer and producer Debra Hill was allegedly "unusually thin-skinned and defensive about the film's sexual side."

As much as I would like to give the best actor award to Nick Castle (who played Michael Myers and later became the director of the crappy "Major Payne" movie), no one would deny it to Donald Pleasance. Already a veteran actor, Pleasance is now pretty much known best as his role as Dr. Sam Loomis.

After seeing the film a handful of times, I still notice new things. I think that is a testament to some of the subtleties of the film. That, or the theater version has scenes that were not on the home video, because I watched it on the big screen and heard lines I never recall hearing before...

If you enjoy modern horror films, give this one a shot and see why it remains "the most profitable independent film ever made." Before Freddy and Jason, there was Michael Myers... and not the crappy Michael Myers from "Halloween: H20" or "Halloween: Resurrection", but a real ruthless killer from the 1970s. (Also, "Halloween 2" is alright, just do not bother wasting your time on the third part unless you want your brain scrambled.)
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Did Mike Myers see this when it first came out?
lee_eisenberg26 October 2005
And if he did, was he unnerved by the use of his name for the murderer, or did he not mind? Oh well, you probably know the plot: Michael Myers escapes from an institution wearing a white mask, and proceeds to start murdering people. But he really has his eye on teenager Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), while Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance) is chasing him.

In the 21st century, slasher movies have become so common that we're almost numb to them. But this one is actually quite cool. Most people probably know that the name "Sam Loomis" is taken from "Psycho" (which of course starred Jamie Lee Curtis' mother). Anyway, this is what horror flicks are all about: pure unadulterated fun.
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jboothmillard7 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is a great example of classic horror at its best. When he was very young Michael Myers was a psychopathic child, he even murdered his own big sister. When he was older he was put in an asylum and being examined by Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence). He saw that Michael had the blackest eyes and his mind was pure evil. Unfortunately, now 15 years older, Michael has managed to escape and is hiding in his home town. Living in this town are some babysitters, including (in her very first role) Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, Michael's sister. The village is preparing for Halloween, and she soon becomes a target for the terrifying masked killer. He just will not die, I've heard of the sequels, and Michael has been stabbed, shot, fallen off a roof, even had his head chopped off. Unless he's being copied, he is just unstoppable. But anyway, this original genius film was brilliant. Jamie Lee Curtis was number 52 on The 100 Greatest Sex Symbols, the film was number 68 on 100 Years, 100 Thrills, and it was number 7 on The 100 Greatest Scary Moments. Outstanding!
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A Bit Tame By Today's Standards, But That's Good
ccthemovieman-113 December 2007
I didn't watch these '70s and '80s horror movies like "Halloween" until the mid 1990s when I watched every VHS I could get hold of, so a film like this looked pretty tame to what I was already used to seeing by the '90s. However, what this film offers (see below) has some real value, and has a major lesson to learn to the people who make movies..

Comparing horror series that were both popular in the 1980s, I did not find it anywhere near as entertaining as the "Nightmare On Elm Street" horror series. Maybe I was too old by the time I finally saw this, but I appreciated the humor "Freddie Krueger" provided as the main character in those Elm Street stories. A little humor, sometimes, is nice relief in a suspenseful horror flick.

That's not to say Halloween wasn't worth a look, especially with young Jamie Lee Curtis making her film debut. And, like many films with sequels, I found this first Halloween as the best of all of them.

Also on the positive side, it's nice to see a modern-day (post '60s) horror flick without all the blood and gore. The writers here were smart enough to play on our fears, not having gross body parts flung in our face. In other words, suspense is the name of the game here, something filmmakers did effectively for years in the classic era of movies. It seems a lot of that has been replaced with shock today. Young filmmakers who are into horror could learn a lot studying this movie.
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A scary classic
Tweekums1 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I must say that this isn't the type film of film I watch very often but when it was on television on Halloween I just had to watch it; after all it is a classic of the genre. I wouldn't say I enjoyed the film but I was frightened by it and if a horror film scares the viewer it is doing its job. I was impressed that it managed to be scary without showing vast amounts of gore, in fact I don't recall seeing much blood at all.

The film starts off showing us events many years before when a young boy murders his older sister on the night of Halloween. We then move the the present where the boy, Michael Myers, is still incarcerated in a facility for the criminally insane. He is due to have a parole hearing but his doctor, played by Donald Pleasence, is determined that he must never be released. Just as the doctor arrives at the facility Myers escapes and heads back to his former home town. He goes to his old house were he sees Laurie Strode, played by a young Jamie Lee Curtis, as she drops of the key for her estate agent father. He then starts following her around and she occasionally glimpses him but as soon as she looks away he has vanished. On Halloween night when she is babysitting he comes after her and her friends.

There is not a huge death toll, in fact after the prologue we have to wait a long time till any one else is killed. This isn't boring though as there is a constant feeling that something bad could happen at any moment, it is this that makes the film so frightening. The creepiness is increased by not showing the face of the adult Myers for most of the film; we either see him from the neck down or wearing a creepy Halloween mask.

The scariness is heightened by the use of creepy music and camera work that gives is Myers's view in several scenes, this shaky-cam work was done years before it became de rigour in just about every film. While the minor parts are fairly forgettable Jamie Lee Curtis does a decent job and screams well and Donald Pleasence is great as the doctor.
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This is an intriguing and enjoyable slasher movie and following a number of inferior sequels
ma-cortes7 December 2021
This original ¨Halloween¨ 1978 was competently written/produced/musicalized/directed by John Carpenter with good cast such as Donald Pleasence as Loomis , Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie , Nancy Kyes or Loomis , P. J. Soles , Charles Cyphers , Kyle Richards . Dealing with the heinous series killer Michael Myers at large beginning and going on an astonishing massacre . As fifteen years after murdering his sister on Halloween night 1963 , soulness maniac Michael Myers (Tommy Lee Wallace) escapes from a mental hospital and the story subsequently revolving around his return to the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois to kill again. Along the way , the boogeyman on the prowl , stalking , pursuing his unfortunate victims (Jamie Lee Curtis , Nancy Kyes as Nancy Loomis , P. J. Soles) who are running for their lives . It leads to an investigation by the stubborn Doctor Loomis (Donald Pleasence) . The trick was to stay alive. The Night he came home. He's come back . The Night HE Came Home! He came home for Halloween. Everyone is entitled to one good scare . Trick or treat... or die . Let's celebrate the horror . Happy Halloween! .The Trick Is To Stay Alive!

A surprisingly tasteful and thrilling classic movie about the immortal Michael Myers who undertakes his first criminal spree . The film displays eerie events , thrills , chills , cardboard horror , tension , scary killings and lots of blood and gore for nauseating execution . The grisly murders are extremely scary and chilling with abundant slashing , suffocating , scratching , and other disturbing shots . As always, Michael makes a grisly slaughter with gruesome and bloody assassinations using his supernatural and enormous force . This nice thrilling entry being efficiently produced by John Carpenter , Debra Hill , and as executive producers : Moustapha Akkad and Irwin Yablans . The motion picture was well written , musicalized and professionaly directed by John Carpenter . Filmmaker Carpenter puts the accent on atmosphere and intrigue rather than blood , as in other movies of this kind .

This long series is formed by the following ones : The best this ¨Halloween¨(1978) , followed by the sequel ¨Halloween 2¨ (1981) by Rick Rosenthal with Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence , Charles Cyphers , Jeffrey Kramer , Lance Guest . This is one of the only two films released by Universal Studios ; after the massive success of the first film, Universal picked up the sequel . When Halloween III (1982) didn't fare so well, Universal gave the rights to Trancas International, an affiliate of Universal's, who produced the films until 1989. In 1996, the rights were sold to Miramax . Following : ¨Halloween 3 , the season of the witch¨by Tommy Lee Wallace with Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin , Dan O'Herlihy , resulting to be the second sequel to the 1978 terror classic , but it isn't based on the happenings or roles of its predecessors and successors .¨Halloween 4 : The Return of Michael Myers¨ 1984 by Dwight H. Little with Donald Pleasence , Ellie Cornell , Danielle Harris . The same protagonists , Elie Cornell , Danielle Harris and of course Donald Pleasence will play the follow-up ¨Halloween 5 the revenge of Michael Myers¨ 1989 by Dominique Othenin Gerard , and other several sequels.
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Slashers just don't get any better than this.
BA_Harrison3 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
In 1978, director John Carpenter scared the bejeezuz out of audiences worldwide with possibly the finest slasher movie ever made: Halloween. On a very modest budget, he crafted a taut, terrifying and technically superb film that would change the face of horror movies forever.

With its simple premise (pyscho escapes from an asylum and butchers some teens during Halloween), excellent cinematography (courtesy of Dean Cundey), a brilliantly atmospheric synthesizer score (also by Carpenter) and an extremely talented cast of (mostly) relative unknowns, Halloween is THE perfect scary movie experience.

Having spent 15 years locked up in a mental institution (for killing his sister), Michael Myers breaks out and heads for sleepy Haddonfield, his home town. Hot on his trail is Dr. Sam Loomis (Pleasence), who is convinced that Myers is evil personified and must be stopped at all costs.

Only stopping to pick up a creepy looking mask and some knives, Myers proceeds to slaughter a group of teenagers, eventually targeting the virginal Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) who is spending her Halloween night babysitting for some neighbours.

After taking time to introduce viewers to characters that they can actually care about, Carpenter expertly builds the tension, carefully using light and shadow to maximum effect, until the brilliantly tense climax which sees Laurie discovering her dead friends, and then battling against the seemingly indestructible Myers.

Myers - incredibly creepy in his white mask (actually a modified William Shatner mask) - is made even more menacing through his calm, emotionless approach to killing; at no point does he rush after his victims, preferring to take his time, as if content in the knowledge that they can never actually escape him, no matter how hard they try.

The end of the film sees Loomis shooting Myers, who falls off a balcony onto a lawn; however, when Loomis looks for Myers, the body has gone.

Surprisingly bloodless (but still shocking), brilliantly directed, and impossible to forget, Halloween is an absolutely unmissable horror classic.
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the night of the masks
dbdumonteil23 June 2006
The escapee of a psychiatric hospital comes back to a small town, Haddonfield where fifteen years ago, he was in prey to a deadly madness. The doctor Loomis (Donald Pleasance) thinks that he will come back to this town to commit grisly murders. His thoughts will be confirmed when Laurie's friends (Jamie Lee Curtis) are murdered and she might also be one of his victims.

"Halloween" (1978) which put Jamie Lee Curtis on the map (but she would do better with Charles Crichton's so British "a Fish called Wanda", 1988) heralded a genre or sub-genre which has been thriving on the North-American continent for nearly thirty years now: the teenage slasher movie. The majority of these films are modeled in the same mold: a group of teenagers wrestling with an invincible, sanguinary serial killer who slashes them one after the other. This genre will be tapped again and again and will give masterworks like Wes Craven's terrifying, terrific "Scream" (1996) but also turkeys by the dozen: the likes of "Friday the 13th" (only the very first one is good) and saucy spoofs: the "Scary Movie" saga.

John Carpenter isn't a mastermind of the horror/fantasy film even of the B movie. In general his camera work, some of his technical abilities are plagued by weak screenplays and irritable features pertaining to him. "Halloween" is his most palatable effort, though. The thrifty scheme according to which he builds a latent tension to make the audience wound up and queasy is perhaps easy, simplistic (long travelings and camera movements to delay the murders) but rather efficient although not mind-boggling. I blamed Carpenter for the limited potential of his scenarios, it's a bit evident in "Halloween": different steps of the story interlock often in a predictable way and some well-worn tricks aren't very welcome (Laurie's little brother who claims having seen the bogey man (the monster in reality) outside. The latter looks out of the window and... you guessed it). That said, Carpenter's expertise to make fear last makes forget the drawbacks of the scenario.

Maybe the ones who will discover the film today will be disappointed. Since Carpenter's break-through film, the crowds have seen so many similar stories to this one. That said, it is better to watch it and skip its lousy sequels.
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One of the best horror and independent films ever made
Quinoa198410 February 2000
John Carpenter has created a masterpiece with Halloween. Not only a terrific horror film, but a terrific independent picture as well (the film only cost $320,000). The pictures revolutionized horror movies and all movies by scaring you to the bone with a character who heard voices in his head and couldn't be stopped. Though the film goes a little slow, thats good because it gets the pace to a good tempo and that is what makes a good horror movie. Along with great performances by Pleasence and Curtis (her first film), this film needs to belong in motion picture history.
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Not A slasher film...THE slasher film !!!
Coventry28 July 2003
Warning: Spoilers
As a regular user on this site, I did a survey recently concerning all the true horror fans. All fans were asked to give their top 10 favorite titles in this wonderful genre and with all the films listed, I would make up a new, more representative horror top 50. Well, the results proved that HALLOWEEN is still the best horror film in the opinion of many many fans. A great achievement if you know the runner ups were absolute classics like Psycho and the Exorcist to name only a few. And that's more than right, I think. 25 years after its release this film still is the ultimate thrill. Michael Myers still has the power to scare the hell out of you. The horrible music, by director John Carpenter himself, still makes the hair on the back of your neck rise like nothing else does.

I'm pretty sure everyone knows the story already. And yes, it IS the most simple and predictable story ever written. But so what. It works a whole lot better than many other "intelligent" horror films so what the heck if it's a goofy story. A very disturbed child kills his sister at the age of six and is locked away under strong supervision since then. 15 years later, he escapes and returns to his hometown, Haddonfield. He sets his mind to a local babysitter and he starts to terrorize her and her friends. That's it. But it works on so many levels. If you don't like this film, fine. But at least you've got to admit the status this movie reached is very respectable. It was the inspiration to endless ( and inferior ) sequels, ripoffs etc. In fact the whole sub genre of slashers is based on this one film ! I'm sure it wasn't the first slasher film ever made, but it certainly was the most influential of them all. Now, 25 years later they're still making sequels to the original. I believe they've reached episode number 9 by now. None of them lives up to the original, of course, but Michael Myers has a lot of fans all over the world and because of that...he will never die !

In conclusion, if you want 90 minutes of pure suspense : you can't ever go wrong with watching Halloween. With the right atmosphere ( lights out, the TV loud ) I assure you, you'll be scared as hell. Not only thriller fans enjoy this film. It also has a lot of extra values attached to it. For example when the credits say " introducing Jamie Lee Curtis " This film made her famous and now, 25 years later, she still stars in the sequels. Although, I don't really think she's the star of the series, actually. Michael Myers is in the first place of course. The actor who plays him doesn't have to say a word, but still he is always present. And secondly...Donald Pleasance. This great actor died in 1995, but he'll always live on through the countless amount of memorable roles he played. One of them is his character in Halloween. Dr. Sam Loomis...he'll play this role 4 more times. He appeared for the last time in Halloween 6: The curse of Michael Myers.
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Scary slasher classic.
michaelRokeefe23 October 2001
Without much money to work with John Carpenter directs, writes and produces original music for this stalk, rip, slash, stab, psycho thriller. A young boy becomes a thrill killer on Halloween and is placed in an institution for the criminally insane. As he turns 21, he threatens to do so again. He escapes in time for Halloween. Very well made with plenty of scares, tension and sex driven teenagers.

Tony Moran plays the bumbling, stumbling slasher Michael Myers. Donald Pleasence is Michael's doctor and leaves the institution to find his psycho runaway patient and bring him back before he does more harm. The alluring Jamie Lee Curtis plays Michael's sister and next intended victim. Also in the cast are Charles Cyphers, Nancy Kyes and Kyle Richards. Plenty of violent intent; very little gore, but enough suspense to keep you squirming in your seat. Every bit the instant horror classic.
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tedg26 November 2002
I either forgot, or never appreciated how darn good this is.

The engineering of the thing is splendid. It was the first of a genre, so there was nothing to build on. It uses three building blocks.

— It uses the notion of an evil, unstoppable force. It even features the three iconic films that set the precedent for this: The Thing, Forbidden Planet and Psycho.

— It is basically wrapped around the fear of being watched. Sure there are violent murders, but the tension is built from what is seen and unseen, the notion that Myers watches and extensive POV shots. Especially the one at the beginning. This is what I call narrative folding where the watchers of the film and a character are merged.

— Carpenter wrote and directed it. That you know. But you may not appreciate that he wrote the music. It is fantastic. He has said that he heard the movie before he imagined it in visuals. It shows. The score is not quite programmatic — that it annotates the screen. Instead it anticipates what is coming. The sense of foreboding is in the music, and gosh it is good.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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As a matter of fact, it *was* the bogeyman.
Hey_Sweden31 October 2011
An hour and a half long exercise in style, atmosphere, and suspense by director / co-writer / composer John Carpenter, "Halloween" remains one of his finest works, a top notch slasher film whose incredible success opened the floodgates for scores of similar films. It's done in a true minimalist style, with utterly relentless automaton Michael Myers taking his time and putting much more effort into his stalking, ultimately, than his slashing.

"Halloween" is so well executed that, much like "Psycho" before it (to which "Halloween" is admittedly indebted) its murder set pieces can still grip the viewer after repeat viewings. Carpenter and company try hard to create a true autumn feel as well as a sense of the American Midwest, despite filming this in South Pasadena in the spring, and sometimes they succeed and sometimes they don't, but overall their film is a classic that continues to hold up very well.

Making her feature film debut, young Jamie Lee Curtis makes for a likable, sympathetic "final girl". Nancy Loomis provides funny comedy relief as wisecracking Annie. Sexy P.J. Soles is likewise a hoot as air headed cheerleader Lynda. Strong support is provided by Charles Cyphers - a Carpenter regular for several years - as Sheriff Brackett, with long time Carpenter friend Nick Castle impressively creepy as Myers. Star attraction Donald Pleasence is wonderfully sincere and intense as Myers' persistent nemesis Dr. Loomis, really bringing Carpenters' memorable dialogue to life.

Fluid camera-work and Dean Cundey's striking cinematography are incredibly important assets. The use of the Panavision aspect ratio enables Carpenter to fill the frame with as much detail as possible while still allowing Myers to ominously linger at the edges. Carpenters' haunting score - reminiscent of Goblins' work for "Suspiria", and "Tubular Bells" from "The Exorcist" - has gone on to become one of *the* iconic horror movie scores, and the film simply wouldn't be the same without it; it makes even the day time scenes rather eerie.

Carpenter begins the film with a flourish, and gives it a mighty fine ending that basically shows us that true evil - whether personified in a bogeyman wearing a Shatner mask or not - will never ever go away. True enough that there are elements here that are not exactly original - the use of subjective camera-work to indicate the killers' point of view, the idea of the killer that keeps coming no matter what - although for better or worse "Halloween" *did* definitively bring them to the public consciousness. The screenplay doesn't hold up to a lot of scrutiny, but overall the film is still so well made and compelling as to remain essential viewing any time of the year, not just tonight.

Eight out of 10.
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Good for a scary Halloween treat...still has raw power to frighten...
Doylenf30 August 2006
John Carpenter put together a pretty fascinating little scare film with this Halloween treat that was so successful it spawned a couple of less worthy sequels. Here the chills are genuinely frightening, as is the overall atmosphere aided and abetted by one of the creepiest background scores ever to occupy the soundtrack of a slasher film.

The frightened heroine is JAMIE LEE CURTIS, babysitting on Halloween night and being told by her young charges that something strange is happening at the house across the street. We switch back and forth between Jamie and her charges and another girl whom we know is about to be visited by escaped lunatic Michael Myers.

The suspense is maintained at high level the moment the first attack takes place--and from then on, the scares become more intense as Jamie realizes she and the kids are in real danger.

Takes its place among the great horror classics, thanks to some superb photography, direction and music--as well as some convincing performances from a relatively unknown (at the time) cast, with the exception of DONALD PLEASENCE as Dr. Loomis.

A Halloween delight.
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Original and best...
CinemaSerf7 November 2020
I really enjoyed seeing this on the big screen again, 40-odd years after John Carpenter introduced us to his brand of slasher-horror with Jamie Lee Curtis great as the flighty young girl "Laurie" who finds herself caught up in the revenge antics of the faceless "Michael Myers" that perhaps only Donald Pleasence ("Loomis") can save her from. The pace and tension build really well - helped by some good use of sound and light (I didn't much care for the over-synthesised score), the supporting screams from PJ Soles and Nancy Kyes and the occasional intervention from Pleasence. The sequels never reached the heights of this, original psychological horror - there are precious few special effect to laughs at or even speak of, really - and if you get a chance to catch up with it as intended on 35mm then you should certainly give it a go.
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A classic
preppy-329 March 2002
Warning: Spoilers
In Haddonfield Illinois in 1963 6 year old Michael Myers stabbed his sister to death on Halloween night. He's committed to a mental institution. 15 years later, on October 30, he escapes and returns to Haddonfield and starts stalking three teenage girls (Jamie Lee Curtis, P.J. Soles and Nancy Loomis). His doctor (Donald Pleasance) also comes looking for him...but can he stop him before he attacks the girls?

I saw this great film back in 1978 with an audience full of teenagers (I was 16 myself). How this film got an R rating is beyond me--there's only a few flashes of nudity, one instance of swearing, no sex shown (only under the sheets) and very little blood. I was very lucky to see this film when it first came out with no knowledge of it. By the end of the film I was downright terrified! The whole audience was rooting for Curtis to get away and went wild cheering when she thinks she killed him. This was the first horror film (that I know of) where the killer lived and got away at the end. I have never forgotten the chill that went up my spine at the end when you realize he's still alive and on the loose.

It was nothing new plot-wise but it was well-shot (beautiful Panavision images and director John Carpenter makes full use of his wide screen), reasonably well-acted (this was before Jamie Lee Curtis hit it big and she's somewhat awkward) and very VERY scary!

**SPOILERS** The bodies falling out of closets, Michael jumping up from behind a couch and sitting up when he's supposed to be dead were terrifying. I had nightmares that night over this!

Unfortunately most people now see this after seeing the countless inferior copycat films which stole many things from "Halloween" like: sex=death; a masked killer; no motivation from the killer (in "Halloween" it's suggested that Michael is the boogeyman but I always found that kind of silly). What those copycats left out was: likable characters; suspense; teenagers who talk and act like teenagers; scares; logic and lack of gore. Also you're rooting for the girls in this picture not the killer as you are in some others. AND the girls in this one fight back when the killer is after them. Curtis' one on one with Myers at the end is just great and terrifying.

A must-see classic. Wide-screen viewing is essential. Great music score too.
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