This 1978 film kick-started the slasher films of the 1980s and 90s– but don’t hold that against it. Despite its foul progeny– including its own insultingly stupid sequels– Halloween works.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Director: John Carpenter
Writers: John Carpenter, Debra Hill

Features:

Donald Pleasence…Dr. Sam Loomis
Jamie Lee Curtis…Laurie Strode
Tony Moran Michael Myers

Available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca

Premise:

An escaped killer returns to the town where he committed his first crimes as a child, years earlier.

High Point:

Jamie Lee caught in the house. Prior to this film (and in most of the slasher pics that follow), horror-movie damsels in distress generally did not prove this resourceful. Her reactions add to the tension. Instead of watching a scripted bimbo race towards inevitable demise, we’re watching something akin to a battle of wills and wits, with the outcome genuinely in doubt.

Low Point:

Curtis was twenty, and passable as a teen. The others? I know that mid-to-late-twenties (and even thirty-something) teenagers are typical of Hollywood films, but it really doesn’t work here.

The Scores:

Originality: 4/6 Its approach can be regarded as original, but its premise? The boogeyman is out to get you!.

Effects: 4/6. Very little here qualifies as an effect. I’m giving it a few extra points for exceptional use of the camera.

Story: 5/6: This has a horror-film purity of concept and execution that has rarely been matched– though pretty much everyone with a camera has tried.

Acting: 5/6: The acting varies. Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence do well, and they’re who really matters. Will Sandin as the young Michael manages to be creepy in his few onscreen appearances. Some of the extras are weaker.

Production: 6/6 The film seems all the more remarkable when one considers the very low budget. The musical score may be the best in suspense-films since Psycho.

Emotional Response: 5/6

Overall: 6/6.

In total, Halloween receives 35/42.

Additional Comments

The DVD (and the anniversary VHS tape) contains a number of special features, including detailed “making of” information on this low-budget, high-return film. I suppose everyone already knew that the killer’s mask was a modified, washed-off mask of William Shatner— but it was news to me.

Halloween Countdown to date: