There is no horror film more sinister or more brilliant than that of John Carpenter’s Halloween. Released October 25, 1978, Carpenter’s film went on gross more than $47 million dollars, making it the eighth highest grossing film of the year. The film tells the haunting tale of Michael Myers, a 21 year old man who fifteen years earlier, murdered his 17 year old sister Judith on Halloween night after she finished having sex. At six years old, Michael was placed in a mental institution where Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) becomes his primary psychiatrist. Dr. Loomis however, sees a darkness in Michael that can’t be explained. He spent a few years attempting to get through to him and the rest trying to keep him locked up. On Halloween 1978, Michael escapes and goes on a murder rampage through Haddonfield, Illinois attempting to get to his one last blood relative Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis).
Forget Rob Zombie’s version of the franchise and forget the mediocre sequels that followed the 1978 hit (actually, Halloween II is pretty awesome as well), Carpenter’s original set the bar for all “scary” movies that would follow but never measure. Carpenter’s handle of the film is smart, innovative, and pulse pounding. Prior to this film, Carpenter had only had two full length features under his belt, Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) and Dark Star (1974). Halloween put Carpenter on the map.
While the screenplay by Carpenter and Debra Hill is the A-typical cheese-fest that horror films offers, the acting of Curtis and Pleasance are some of the best work seen in this genre. Granted, the bar hasn’t been raised too high in this regards, but it’s a notable mention. Nick Castle, who actually portrays Myers in his adult, jump suited, William Shatner mask wearing sociopath shape controls an aura that spits out of the screen and sets your fears ablaze. Michael Myers is hands down the creepiest, most terrifying film killer in my memory. Put Chucky in front of me, I’d kick him across the room. Put Freddy in my dreams, I’ll laugh myself awake. Put Jason in front of me, I’d take him to Central Park ice skating rink and do a triple axle on his face. Put Michael Myers in front of me, give me a new diaper; I just went on myself. No question about it.
The most famous aspect of the film, and nearly the franchise, is the outstanding score constructed by John Carpenter himself. Never has a score been so identifiable or synonymous with a character or genre. If you’ve lived under a rock all these years or haven’t had the stomach to face the franchise, take a night, introduce yourself to Michael and see how the horror genre was meant to be done. Halloween is the best horror film. Ever.