Best Horror Films Series: Halloween (1978)

halloween1978_12Happy Halloween!  The end of our Best Horror Films Series is here.  Countless suggestions came in via Twitter, comments, and other forms of social media.

There is no horror film more sinister or more brilliant than that of John Carpenter’s “Halloween.”  The franchise gave the cinematic world so much.  Jamie Lee Curtis made her feature debut, Michael Myers would be synonymous with terror, and composers would forever need to elevate their game if they ever wanted to match the eerie nature of this classic.  Granted, like all franchises, the wheels come off after the first (despite me actually really liking the second), but Michael Myers has always been there in perception and in aura.  The story surrounding him is, until this day, a complete mystery.  We know the facts: small child kills his sister on Halloween night after watching her have sex.  He’s institutionalized for fifteen years and monitored by Dr. Sam Loomis (played graciously by the late Donald Pleasance).  On the anniversary of his sister’s murder, he escapes, and ventures back to Haddonfield, IL to wreak havoc on the town that condemned him.  We have no knowledge of his motives.  He seems to be stalking babysitters, and on the surface, looks to just be a classic case of a psychopathic killer.  He kills Laurie’s friend Annie in her car, sticks boy toy Bob to a kitchen pantry, and strangles friend Lynda topless post-sex.  In all this, hardly any gore or blood.    Just pure fear.  

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. Carpenter’s original set the bar for all “scary” movies that would follow but never measure. Carpenter’s handle of the film is seductively smart, terrifyingly innovative, and utterly 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.  Not to mention, the score!

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 set too high in this regard, but it’s a notable mention. Nick Castle, who portrays Myers (credited as “The Shape”), knows how to walk, plain and simple.  That’s a performance to me.

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 keep one of his family members on speed dial. 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 aforementioned 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, but I thought I’d rank my top ten favorite horror films of all-time.  

GRADE: ★★★★

  1. Halloween (1978)
  2. The Exorcist (1973)
  3. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  4. Psycho (1960)
  5. The Sixth Sense (1999)
  6. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
  7. Child’s Play (1988)
  8. Jaws (1975)
  9. Carrie (1976)
  10. Scream (1996)

Missed one our film highlights from the BEST HORROR FILMS SERIES?  Read back HERE.

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