31 Oct 2013

'Halloween' Review

Director: John Carpenter
Writer: John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Stars: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, P.J Soles, Nancy Kyes
Running Time: 91 mins
Sub-Genre: Slasher, Thriller, Classic
Release: October 1978

The year is 1963, the night: Halloween. Police are called to 43 Lampkin Ln. only to discover that 15 year old Judith Myers has been stabbed to death, by her 6 year-old brother, Michael. After being institutionalized for 15 years, Myers breaks out on the night before Halloween. No one knows, nor wants to find out, what will happen on October 31st 1978 besides Myers' psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis. He knows Michael is coming back to Haddonfield, but by the time the town realizes it, it'll be too late for many people.



John Carpenter broke his way into the horror genre with one of 1970's most iconic films, and one of the most genre-changing horror films of all time; Halloween. Halloween re-invented the slasher genre, and due to the masterful work of Carpenter, further directors got inspired to release films such as Friday The 13th and even A Nightmare on Elm Street. Halloween made the slasher genre what it is today, and it gave birth to one of the most iconic and memorable villains in movie history; Michael Myers. 1978 may have gave one of the best horrors in movie history, but even to this day Halloween can still be gracefully admired for it's atmospheric tone and haunting masterclass scares. Simplicity is key, so when Hollywood finally realizes that then maybe we might start getting something good from them.

Halloween, being one of the most revolutionary horrors in history brought a lot of new elements to the horror genre that are now considered cliches, and although newer viewers may look back to this, claiming it's cliched narrative string, bear in mind Halloween created some of those cliches, and the 'virgin's always survive' basically steamed from the character of Laurie Strode, played by the wonderful Jamie Lee Curtis, and although this proved to be her break-out role and bagged her the title of 'Scream Queen', her grasp on the character proves to be very strong for an actress who's was on her first role. The 'virgin' aspect of Laurie Strode led to a large cliche that many other slasher took on, and in such films the civil, caring, kind girl-next-door always survived, Laurie Strode however did it without the obvious force, and was more of a subtle, likable girl rather than an annoying, loner girl who aside from herself knows nobody who isn't a slut.

Halloween reinvented the genre and then some, and after that there has never really been a film that had been so simplistically scary, A Nightmare on Elm Street has a campy killer and some flashy death scenes to jolt some scares into the film, but with a budget that big it can be easy. Halloween however managed to inject the sub-genre with some intensely atmospheric scares, and no matter how many slashers have come by, none have been able to master the bone-chilling scares of John Carpenter's original. The dark, open atmosphere creates an almost claustrophobic mood, and as much of an oxymoron that sounds, the fact that no matter were she goes he will find her creates a cluttered mood; there is no escape, it may be an open street filled with civilians, but she is never safe. That's what makes the film so effective.

John Carpenter managed to create one of the most memorable and menacing villains in movie history, The Shape Michael Myers. "Was that the boogeyman? As a matter of fact it was". This line describes the shape himself, and although Myers never actually picked up the name until a few sequels in, it's his unstoppable evil that represents what the boogeyman is; we have all had a nightmare or two with him in it, he is indeed that scary. Discovering that Michael and Laurie were siblings may have diluted the impact of this film, but it did give him more of a purpose that worked more in the favor of the second film rather than the first. Either way, Michael Myers has still remained to this day and unforgettable and frightening masked villain.

The foreboding mood captures the hollow evil with the villain, and plays against the innocent good within Laurie Strode. Her heroic battle in the final act makes for a satisfying one, and once the bodies start to pile the suspense reaches unbearable levels. To me, one of the bests scenes in horror history is the memorable closet scene that shows the vulnerable Laurie trapped as Myers breaks through cornering her, her fight for survival spark heroic, and it is at that point when it becomes obvious why Curtis became the Scream Queen, and Laurie became the most loved heroine in a horror movie for years, if not still to this day. Her cheesy one-liners however could have gone a miss, "Well kido, we all knew you would outgrow superstition." that line is unbearably campy, but that campy charm that is carried through the characters ala Linda, Anne and even Dr. Loomis makes the film all the worth wile even in this age of horror. We all know it's camp, we all know it's cheesy, but it works, so well that we have all been amazed by this film for years, and there may not be another to come that could ever surpass this one. John Carpenter, you aren't known as The Master of Horror for nothing.

VERDICT: John Carpenter's Halloween remains to be foreboding, frightening and intensely chilling even after all those years. The dark atmospheric mood mixed with the deep and grisly narrative string makes for the best slasher of all time, and one of the best horrors ever made. An absolute Masterpiece that remains to me one of the best films of all time.


4 comments:

  1. Great review. Yeah I agree with you about this movie bringing in new elements to the horror genre that are now considered cliches.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good review Jack. I don't think this movie could ever get old for any movie watcher, horror fan or not. There's always a little something new or cool to see time and time again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh yeah, it's timeless and that's what makes it so great

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