October being the month in which we find Halloween, I thought it only appropriate that I post a review that honors that day, and what better movie to choose than the movie that bears its name, John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN.
Let me state up front that this movie surprised me, happily surprised me. You see, I always thought that the slasher film as a genre, or as a sub-genre of horror, was cheap and exploitative, making it unworthy to be called horror and unworthy of watching, so I stayed away from it and never watched it. Also, I believed, and still do to this day, that even though it is never officially stated in any definition of the horror genre, horror is, or should be, rooted in the supernatural. There should be some supernatural event within the movie, preferably in the beginning, for my taste, which makes the movie a horror movie. Near the end of HALLOWEEN, hints are given that there’s a supernatural or otherworldly element to Michael Myers, in the fact that no matter how many times he’s stabbed and shot, he doesn’t stay dead. Plus I’m not a fan of the current trend in horror today, that of the human monster, where the horror is a serial killer. I’ve said this before, on Facebook, and I’ll say it again here, real terror and horror comes from being chased by something like a vampire or a demon; something that cannot be killed. That problem is tricky to solve. With a serial killer, just turn and shoot Dexter in the ass and problem solved. So it was when I began this blog that I decided to watch the movie, because I knew I had to make my blog all inclusive. Whether I like it or not, the slasher sub-genre is a part of horror, and a popular part, and it cannot be ignored. And as it turns out, I did like this movie; in fact, I found it to be quite good.
Being totally honest, the plot of HALLOWEEN is nothing fancy, but it didn’t need to be; it just needed to be sufficiently compelling and scary and set the stage for the action scenes, i.e., the murders, to follow, which it did. The opening scene of Michael’s sister’s murder, was, in my opinion, particularly well thought-out and done. Seeing everything unfold through the eyes of the murderer, I think, was a smart piece of film-making and it is definitely a suspense builder, which played out through all of the daytime sequences, leading up to Halloween night and the murders.
Here are a few stills of Judith’s murder:
HALLOWEEN is fast paced (though for me, Halloween night could’ve been gotten to a tiny bit sooner), well written and well acted by a predominately young cast. This is the movie that put newcomer Jamie Lee Curtis, daughter of Hollywood actor and, in my opinion, legend, Tony Curtis, on the map and made her a household name.
Others in the cast include:
Will Sandin a
s Michael Myers
This movie was, of course, directed by John Carpenter, and a stellar job he did. HALLOWEEN changed the face of horror for decades, which the jury is still out on whether it’s a good thing or bad. Overall, in my mind, this definitely is a very good movie, worthy of a four monster rating, but it falls just shy of great. John Carpenter not only directed this movie, but co-wrote the screenplay (with the producer, Debra Hill) and music, too.
Other movie credits include:
Cinematography by Dean Condey
Edited by Tommy Lee Wallace
Production Company: Compass International Pictures and Faction International Productions
Distributed by Compass International Pictures
HALLOWEEN was released on October 25, 1978 with an R-rating and ran 91 minutes. Its budget was $300,000-325,000 and its box office take $70,000,000.
Beginning with this review, I am adding two new rating systems — battle axe for violence and blood droplets for gore. Unlike the monster rating system, where five monsters means it’s a great movie, five droplets or battle axes means that the gore or violence is overdone or gratuitous.
If I were reviewing this movie in its day, I probably would have upped the battle axe and drop counts, but today, times and our entire culture have changed, and in light of that, I think this count fits.
Review by Paul Pappas
HALLOWEEN definitely changed the face of horror movie-making. Was that a good change or a bad one? Leave a comment and let me know your opinion.
Next up will definitely be my review of the first season of PENNY DREADFUL, which I put on the back burner in order to do this review in time for Halloween.
And coming soon, the debut of BOTTOMMLINE HORROR MOVIE REVIEWS’ sister blog, BOTTOMLINE SCIFI MOVIE REVIEWS, with a review of the 1968 classic, PLANET OF THE APES.