Halloween ★★★★★

Carpenter’s original HALLOWEEN is an excellent ‘good movie’.  Perhaps following PSYCHO’s lead, HALLOWEEN invented the slasher genre and gave cinematic legs to the popular mental-instability horror motive.

Carpenter’s film did all this in a way that cracked the fourth wall a bit and kicked the audience right in its sense of safety.  Its cinematography realism, as much a function of low-budget constraints as anything, the real suburban set, and the innovative roving POV camera  lend a sense of naturalism to HALLOWEEN that cover for many of the film’s shortcomings.  Mostly run-of-the-mill victim performances, superficial dialog, a light script, and some fight v. flight-fueled bad horror-movie decisions are easily dismissed because Carpenter legitimately produces a viable threat that seems to reach out into our real world.

HALLOWEEN is an effective slasher film on its own, and it hasn’t really dated too much in the four decades since its release.  However, it is also a compelling instance of giving the cliched safe small-town/suburb/middle-class a narrative of its lifestyle being threatened.  Look at the news—there’s nothing more unsettling than a narrative suggesting a way of life being threatened.  On the heals of anti-communism propaganda at the time, HALLOWEEN came along and gave middle-class America a realistic-feeling boogeyman attacking picket-fence communities—and America has had them in cinema and on the evening news cycle ever since.

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