Halloween ★★★★★

Halloween is one of the most popular horror films ever made and it’s enduring appeal is testament to the great work and vision of Writer/Director John Carpenter.

What’s so remarkable and effective about Halloween is its simplicity. Credited with creating the slasher sub-genre of Horror it really is the simple story of the evil Michael Myers and how he goes about wreaking havoc on the town of Haddonfield, Illinois fifteen years after he murdered his sister when he was a child and this simple premise is made to last really well. John Carpenter is clever in how he presents Myers. Michael doesn’t speak at all throughout the entire production and the background detail surrounding him is very scarce but what we are told through monologues from Donald Pleasance’s Dr Loomis is deeply chilling and presents him as a monstrous figure and we are never entirely sure what exactly he’s capable of. But signs such as the animal cruelty give us horrifying and unsettling clues.

There’s no doubt that John Carpenter at his peak is a fine director and this is the greatest example of his talent in suspense cinema. On a low budget Carpenter is able here to infuse his entire production with an eerie sense of menace and dread that permeates through every aspect of the production as we see glimpses of Myers stalking the young Laurie and her friends. Carpenter builds the tension throughout the film slowly and steadily and releases it expertly to show us some surprisingly brutal kills and jump scares which are executed with expert precision. The last half hour is also completely terrifying as Myers is presented as a frighteningly vicious figure and his hidden presence and lack of dialogue make him a horrifying villain throughout. As the years wore on slasher films became stale but this is fresh and original thanks to Carpenter’s genius. What also helps is the menacing and iconic electronic score which is also written and performed by Carpenter. This adds another layer of excitement and terror to the production.

The casting is also really strong here. Jamie Leigh Curtis who became known as a “scream queen” later in her career is a great leading lady but the most impressive work here in the cast is by Donald Pleasance who is a surprisingly creepy presence in the picture as Dr. Loomis, his work here in a career relaunching turn really adds to the urgency of proceedings and is one of his career best.

To conclude, Halloween is a classic of Horror Cinema which has inspired countless filmmakers since and it is due to the incredible skill and genius of John Carpenter here that this original has lasted so long and been so enduring. A masterclass of filmmaking and a true classic of Horror cinema.

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