Justin Purwitsky’s review published on Letterboxd:
Horror movies have been around since the early days of cinema. Right from the beginnings of the silent era and effortlessly continuing through the many ensuing decades, horror cinema has left it's mark on audiences and always leaves with them wanting more.
Dracula, The Mummy and Frankenstein were the giants of the 30's and in the 50's monster movies were all the rage, but for the most part these movies, although scary at times, lacked a sense of sheer terror to them. The type of movies where you grip the person next to you or dig your nails into the seat just didn't exist. Cinema hadn't matured enough yet and these films relied heavily on the 'fantasy of cinema' rather than realism, or in the case of horror a sort of hyper-realism.
Then the 60's came along and things began to change. Films like Psycho and Rosemary's Baby brought that realism into the genre. The spectacular-ness of the previous era was over and the new filmmakers entering the industry were brining new and interesting ideas and changing the way things had been done.
Case in point is George A. Romero. In 1968 he made and released Night of the Living Dead. This movie was terrifying, gory and a game changer for the industry. This movie single handedly cemented into the minds of the general public what a zombie is and what it looks like. Rarely had a horror movie shaped the genre as much as Night of the Living Dead had done.
By the 70's horror had become something completely different to the days of Legosi and Karloff. Movies like The Exorcist and Texas Chainsaw Massacre were bringing in a sense of realism that suggested to the audience that these events could happen to you, out in the woods or even right there at home. Strong acting, methodical directors and innovate and gory effects took horror movies into a far darker place than ever before.
Then on October 25th, 1978 Halloween was unleashed on the public. Directed by John Carpenter and starring Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode and Donald Pleasance as Dr. Loomis, Halloween was unlike anything that had come before it. An unstoppable evil killer, Michael Myers, haunts a small town killing anyone he comes across as his doctor races to stop him.
Halloween is a tense, scary and exhilarating thrill ride from the opening scene to the last shot. It's got a dark and moody atmosphere, and beautifully composed shots by a very young Dean Cundey. The dark lighting has Myers popping in and out of the blackness that surrounds Laurie and her friends and helps set the mood of the film.
As does the music. composed by Carpenter himself. The haunting score is simple but effective and is used perfectly to emphasize the terror of Myers. His nightmare inducing theme is an instant classic. And there are plenty of music-less stretches too, where all you can here is Myers breathing and not knowing where he will pop up next.
It is fantastically directed by the young Carpenter who pulls great performances out of his leads. You feel for Laurie, you believe Dr. Loomis when he speaks and you fear Myers; a hulking large, brooding, masked killer who oozes evil in the way he walks and the way he moves. Unfortunately the acting of the kids in the film is poor and is really the only thing wrong with Halloween as a film.
Everything else just works perfectly. There aren't that many kills, there is no gore and there is not much action until the last half hour but again, everything just gels perfectly. Watching the film will have you glued to the screen for every second of its 90 minute run time.
Halloween is a well made, original horror movie that is outright terrifying and downright unmissable. You can watch this movie over and over and never get bored and even though you know what's coming you'd still be scared and gripping your blanket tight.