Release Date: 25 October 1978 (USA)
Cast: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tony Moran
Running Time: 1hr 31min
Haddonfield, Illinois, Halloween night 1963, terror and suspense lurk around every corner, but it’s something unexpected that captures our fear. Judith Myers is stabbed to death in her bedroom. The culprit? Her 6-year-old brother Michael! We fast-forward 15-years, and 21-year-old Michael escapes from the sanitarium in which he was being held, and returns to Haddonfield.
Michael’s target is high school student and babysitter Laurie Strode (who we discover in the sequel is Michael’s biological sibling). He dons a boiler suit and white mask, and starts to stalk Laurie and her friends. Meanwhile, Michael’s doctor, Sam Loomis comes to Haddonfield to stop him, and warn the authorities.
As Laurie and her friends prepare for a night of babysitting (her) and fun (them), Michael arrives at one of the homes. He proceeds to kill Laurie’s friends carefully and quietly until it is simply her and the children left. Suspicious, Laurie heads over to the other house and is attacked by Michael.
She fights him off and allows the children time to escape, before retreating into the house. As Michael stalks her again, Loomis arrives at the house and shoots Michael, sending him crashing over a balcony. He goes to tend to Laurie, and the two rush to the window, only to find that Michael Myers has gone…
Halloween was a runaway success upon its release, and is largely credited as being the first-ever slasher movie. It also popularized the now-ubiquitous horror trope of the final girl. What works so well about it is that there is almost no gore, and the first proper kill doesn’t happen until late in the movie. This leaves John Carpenter plenty of time to build suspense and atmosphere.
Halloween is a very eerie movie and succeeds in being scary because of the POV shots, and the long, slow build up. And, in villain Michael Myers, the movie has one of the best ever actors in horror. Myers is like a relentless pursuing monster, utterly driven in his pursuit of Laurie. And what makes him so great is that he doesn’t say a single word.
John Carpenter should get massive props for this movie, and it is rightly revered as a classic. The budget of just $300,000 actually helped make the movie more stripped back and basic – indeed, for Myers’ mask the filmmakers took a William Shatner mask and painted it pure white! Amazing and yet utterly terrifying.