Halloween

Halloween ★★★★★

Due to a lack of originality and a constant demand for reboots and remakes, the immensely popular and addictively entertaining horror genre of the 1970’s is now a distant memory. Classics like The Exorcist (1973), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), The Omen (1976) and The Amityville Horror (1979) will never be seen again. With the exception of a handful of modern films one could suggest that horror filmmakers today are simply running out of ideas. Have the so called benefits of CGI ruined what was once a record-breaking film genre? Were films more entertaining in the 70’s because they were limited with what they could physically produce? I think they were. Why go through the painstaking process of prosthetics, latex skin and a good old fashioned bottle of tomato sauce when you can simply draw it in and therefore create limitless hysteria!

In the late seventies the filmmaking partnership of Debra Hill and director John Carpenter reunited to make Halloween (1978), in my humble opinion the best horror movie of them all. With a minuscule budget of $300,000 the horror duo set out to make, what would become, the highest grossing independent motion picture of its generation.

Wes Craven’s excellent A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and the sublime The Blair Witch Project (1999), the latter an example of only a handful of horror films that continued to nurture originality beyond the 1980’s and both ironically independently financed, are very effective horror movies. But it’s the simplicity of Halloween from it's storytelling to it’s chilling music score, composed in just three days by Carpenter, along with Carpenter’s direction and some great moments of cinematography that create the chilling suspense necessary for making this kind of movie.

The setting is Haddonfield, a very quiet and ordinary suburban town, which is suddenly awoken from its slumber when Michael Myers (aged 6) stabs his sister to death on Halloween night. The story has since become legend with the town’s children likening the myth of Myers to that of ‘The Boogeyman’. Then on the eve of Halloween, 15 years later, Myers escapes from the Illinois State Mental Hospital and returns to Haddonfield to relive that fateful night. 

What follows is quite chilling as Myers stalks Laurie Strood (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her friends in an attempt to re-light the fuse which was extinguished all those years ago. Donald Pleasance plays Doctor Loomis, a child psychiatrist who has followed Myers’ story with great interest. Loomis travels to Haddonfield to convince the authorities that Michael Myers has returned and will strike again!

I still find this film hard to watch even with the lights on, a problem I don’t have with many of today’s horror offerings. The late seventies and early eighties produced the vast majority of the best horror pictures of all time. During this period Carpenter, who also delivered other chilling treats such as The Fog (1980) and The Thing (1982) had quite clearly eSTABlished himself as ‘The Boogeyman’ of modern horror.

“I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply...evil.” - Doctor Loomis

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