the night HE came home
What much more can be said about Halloween that already hasn't? Halloween is scary, eerie, creepy, excellent, helped start the slasher sub-genre, one of my favourite horror genre ever, and it accomplished this without showing buckets of gore. John Carpenter truely made film history with HALLOWEEN, which is still scary to this day, 31 years later. To give you an understanding of the rules and foundations of a good slasher..hell, a good horror, here is what you need, and when these were accompllished:
PSYCHO (1960): Alfred Hitchcock started it all here. It was here that Hitchcock introduced two key components to slashers: A memorable killer (Norman Bates) and tone-setting music.
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974): In his controversial film, Tobe Hooper adopted a theme from PSYCHO by creating a memorable killer (Leatherface), and also introduced two more key components to horror movies (especially slashers), and that is the eerie mask for the killer (in this case, a mask made from human skin) and a notable weapon (the chainsaw).
JAWS (1975): Here, Steven Speilberg improved upon Hitchcock's method of using eerie, tone-setting music by making music with slower pace and heavier impact, and he also created yet another theme: not showing the killer untill about halfway through the movie.
BLACK CHRISTMAS (1977): In this little known independant Canadian horror fil, they used Speilberg's concept of not showing the villian for most of the film, and added yet another theme: First-Person camera angles. Now all the peices are laid, and John Carpenter must put together the puzzle.
The result is John Carpenter's 1978 HALLOWEEN, one of the most controversial and sucessful horror movies of all time. By this time, Carpenter recognized all these themes, and added them together like peices of a puzzle. He had the memorable killer (Micheal Myers), the eerie mask (a bleached William Shatner mask), the famous weapon (kitchen knife), the eerie tone-setting music (he even made it better than the music fromJAWS and PSYCHO), and the first-person camera angles. But John Carpenter didn't just take some elements and mash them together, he made an incredibley origional plot line, the story of a six-year-old boy who kills his sister in 1963 on Halloween night, and returns 14 years later to go on a murderous rampage. But not only does Mr. Carpenter do all that, but he adds yet ANOTHER element, and one of the most intelligent and effective elements of them all: he gives not backstory. He doesn't explain why Micheal Myers suddenly snapped when he was six and murdered his older sister, or why he decides to return 14 years later, or why he even kills in the first place. He doesn't kill for a reason, he kills just to watch people die, and I think that makes him far more scary than if he killed for a reason. What do you think made Heath Ledger's Joker so scary? He wasn't commiting those crimes for money, he just wanted to terrorize Gotham, or, as Micheal Cane so brilliantly put it, "Some men just want to watch the world burn." I was glad Carpenter never gave Micheal Myers a backstory, it made the character more scary. That's what got me pissed off at Rob Zombie's 2007 re-imagining, the fact that he added a backstory. It ruined the character and made him much less scary.
The acting in HALLOWEEN is brilliant. Jamie Lee Curtis is excellent in the role that made her famous, but the film's true star is Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis, Micheal's old psychiatrist who stops at nothing to stop him. Mr. Pleasence was simply brilliant in this role, and he was so good that not even Malcolm McDowell could top him. This was another thing that annoyed me about Rob Zombie's 2007 Halloween. Malcolm McDowell was a great choice to play him, but the way the character was written was all wrong. In the origional, Dr. Loomis never regarded Micheal as a human being, but as a being of pure evil, saying he "has no humanity", and giving one of the greatest monologue of all time:
"I met him 15 years ago, I was told there was nothing left, no reason, no conscience, no understanding, not even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, of right or wrong. I met this 6 year old child with this blank, pale, emotionless face and the blackest eyes...the devil's eyes. I spent 8 years trying to reach him and then another 7 trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply evil.
In the remake, Loomis was written as being the exact opposite, even calling Micheal his "best friend". Why couldn't Zombie just let McDowell play Loomis the way Donald Pleasence did? Why couldn't he let him give that old monologue? I just don't know.
Overall, HALLOWEEN is a classic peice of American cinema, and beloved by horror films around the world, and will live on for centuries as one of the greatest horror films, perhaps one of the greatest movies, of all time.