Halloween: The Best There Ever Was
Dir. John Carpenter (1978)
You know what this movie is about. The proto-slasher and archetype for everything that has come after. Michael Myers travels the country, meets new people, kills them.
Halloween is my favorite movie of all time. I don’t make this a secret, but I’m going to try to be somewhat objective in my review. I said I’ll try, that’s the best I can do!
Even objectively, there’s so much to appreciate about the original Halloween, godfather of the modern slasher movie and the movie that put John Carpenter on the map. From the use of Panavision cameras that allowed for the effortless glide through the house to Dean Cundey’s haunting cinematography and color theory that allowed for the possibility of The Shape being anywhere at any time, Halloween created fear in a way that no other movie had done before. Carpenter did not need any tricks; he didn’t need “based on a true story” bullshit like Amityville (which came a year later), and he didn’t need Satanic Panic to sweep the nation like the Exorcist. He just needed a really scary premise of a man who kills for no reason, birthed from a child who did the same. Well, that and the scariest soundtrack in movie history.
The magic behind one of the scariest films ever made is, quite frankly, the capable hands of John Carpenter and Dean Cundey. While he and Debra Hill wrote the screenplay, and (technically) the idea might have come from Irwin Yablans and was funded by Moustapha Akkad, it was the vision, the music, the direction, and the cinematography that made Halloween into the cultural touchstone that it became. Capitalizing on the upswing of horror that had come in the wake of the release of The Exorcist, Jaws, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the first half of the 70’s, the producers wanted to make some quick money with a small budget and a relatively unknown director. What they received was the greatest horror movie of all time and the one to which every slasher since can only hope to be compared.
They also started the career of the best Scream Queen in history while creating the rules for all who would come after. Jamie Lee Curtis portrays an innocent babysitter who has not had the “moral failings” of her contemporaries. While Carpenter has stated many times that he never intended the film to be a judgment of loose moral values, but rather to show that extracurricular activities like sex and drugs distracted people from seeing the killer behind them, Halloween created the modern archetype of the virginal Final Girl. This “morality clause” of horror movie mortality has spread through all slashers, even being particularly focused on by movies like Cherry Falls. Jamie Lee managed to maintain her innocence throughout the deaths of all of her friends while also happening to be a bit of a badass in her own right. She is the only person who ever squared off with Michael Myers face to face and lived to tell about it. As of Halloween Kills, she’s still alive and kicking. We shall see what fate awaits her in the finality of Halloween Ends.
Yes, collect call for Strode, Laurie… Yes, I'll hold.
It is easy to criticize movies like Halloween with the benefit of 40 years of hindsight. There is very little blood, a relatively low body count, and that one imperfect moment that shows Michael’s face (which I will go to my grave believing is the only flaw in an otherwise perfect movie.) It is also easy to make the argument that, at the time, it was the scariest thing around because movie audiences simply did not know any better. But today, in 2022, Halloween is still one of the scariest movies ever made simply because of what it represents: the unstoppable, immovable, unrelenting evil that could be present at any time and anywhere.
What is to stop your teenage daughter from being stalked within the darkness? What is unbelievable about Michael Myers? How do you know that there isn’t someone in your house, right now as you’re reading this, waiting for the perfect time to step out of the shadows and snuff out your life as easily as one might swat a fly? Michael is a beast to be sure, but he is beastly largely because he does not see the world as regular humans do. When he stabs PJ Soles’ boyfriend into the wall, he stares at his swaying body, head tilted to the side, observing his death throes as he would observe a roadside curiosity. This is not, to him, the life ebbing from a young man with his entire future ahead of him. This is an object who stood between him and his goal. This is a “thing” that does not look as it looked before he dealt with it. It is not anger, passion, rage… it is curiosity and nonchalance. What can you possibly do to truly defeat someone in whom no humanity lies?
Nothing. There’s nothing you can do to stop him, nowhere to run that he will not find you, and no amount of force that you can use to halt him in his tracks. He’s not evil, he is evil. Loomis was right all along.
Who this movie is for: Literally everyone, No for real watch this movie, Please don’t make me say it again
Bottom line: The best horror movie ever made. I’m sorry, I tried my best to be objective, it’s just objectively amazing. I feel like I could not be more clear.