Here's the ultimate slasher movie. Halloween still is and will always be the best slasher movie ever made. Its a terrifying tale about psychotic killer. Michael Myers still has the power to scare the hell out of the viewer. Even though I have seen this movie well over 50 times, it still keeps me on the edge of my seat. And it's still the best film from horror movie director John Carpenter. Not only did Carpenter direct the film as well as co-write it (with the late Debra Hill, who was his occasional writing and producing collaborator at the time), he also composed the now famous scary music score, probably the best ever for a horror movie.
The movie's story is about a six year old boy from Haddonfield, Illinois who kills his sister on Halloween night in 1963 and then returns to the same town 15 years later to extend his crime by stalking babysitters. It is still powerful to this day. Jamie Lee Curtis made her film debut here as Laurie Strode, and it would be the beginning of a great movie career. Nancy Loomis and P.J. Soles provide moments of terrific comic relief as Laurie's girlfriends Annie and Lynda, respectively (or as Lynda would put it: "totally"). And the late veteran actor Donald Pleasence would have his most famous role as Michael Myers' doctor and pursuer Dr. Sam Loomis.
Halloween went on to become the most successful independent film of its time. The movie only cost a little over $300,000 to make, and grossed $70 million worldwide. Thanks to this outcome, eight more Halloween movies have followed (including the recent remake). But the original 1978 film is the real deal. It became so popular that afterwards in the early 1980s a bunch of slasher movies came out that tried to imitate the success of Halloween with most of them failing. The one Halloween imitator that didn't fail was Friday The 13th, which was a big hit at the box-office and launched its own successful movie franchise. But others like My Bloody Valentine, The Burning, The Prowler, He Knows You're Alone, Graduation Day, Mother's Day, New Year's Evil, and Silent Night, Deadly Night failed to capture the same success as Halloween did (or Friday The 13th for that matter). Some of these movies might have made back its money since they were all made on a very low budget, but none of them grossed the kind of box-office numbers that Halloween did. But the Halloween franchise eventually joined in on the parade.
Three years later, Halloween II was released, and the series hasn't ended yet. But none of the follow-ups have topped the original film, and no matter how many more Halloween movies are made from here on out, none of them will ever top the superior first film. And one of the main reasons why this film is so much better than the sequels and rip-offs that followed is that it relied on scarring its audience instead of grossing them out. Even though it's violent, there's very little bloodshed in this movie. Halloween is a must-see.
Halloween would prove to be the most successful film of Carpenter's career, and one of the most influential and enduring movies of the horror genre. Although Halloween has a very simple storyline—a baby sitter being terrorized by an unstoppable serial killer—Carpenter managed to create a highly stylized, intelligent, and decidedly scary horror movie. Enjoying full creative control, Carpenter produced a powerful narrative that explores the repressed sexuality of the young sitter, and the violence she ends up exerting on her attacker. He further developed the intense storyline by creating visually outstanding scenes. Visual highlights of the film include the gradual emergence of the white masked killer from the shadows and the ubiquitous subjective point of view shots of the killer at the beginning of the film. However the real achievement of Carpenter, as a director and as a storyteller, was to create a memorable and truly frightening viewing experience. The success of Halloween established the reputation of John Carpenter as a director able to produce a high quality film on a modest budget, seeing that it earned over 50M dollars on a simple budget of under $300,000 dollars.
Reviewed by Biohazard - 1/1/08