Film Review: Halloween (1978) – 9/10

‘Evil has come to your little town…’

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Horror has been a much derided genre through the years, mostly with good reason. While we are currently living through something of a golden age for horror films, historically they have been dismissed as exploitative, tacky and lacking in class. It is for this reason that when a horror film is truly a classic, a masterpiece of cinema, then we must celebrate it as such. The Shining, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Omen, these are the kind of horror sensations that have elevated the genre into something greater. Sitting somewhere near the top of that list is Halloween

When John Carpenter set out to make a horror film in the late ’70s, he didn’t realise that he was creating a genre, an icon and the concept of The Final Girl in one fell swoop. But without Carpenter’s seminal horror classic, the slasher genre as we know it probably wouldn’t exist. Bob Clark’s underrated slasher Black Christmas had set something of a template in 1974, but Carpenter ran with the concept of a madman murdering teenagers and made it into something spectacular.

The lore surrounding Michael Myers is legendary but his murderous back story is just one piece of a grisly jigsaw puzzle. An unforgettable score, ingenious cinematography and a star making performance from Jamie Lee Curtis are all factors in what has made Halloween such a enduring horror classic.

I have watched a film from the Halloween franchise every Halloween for as long  as I can remember and while I like the confrontational nature of Rob Zombie’s controversial reboots and the inconsistent zaniness of the many Halloween sequels, the original is, and will always remain, the ultimate Halloween film.

Every time I sit through another uninspired horror sequel or a derivative original, I ask myself why do I stick with horror? Why keep coming back when so much of it is bad acting and cheap scares? The answer is films like Halloween. The earnest severity of Donald Pleasence as Dr Sam Loomis, the chilling movement of Nick Castle as The Shape himself, Michael Myers and the look in Jamie Lee Curtis’s eye when she comes across the house of horror in the blood soaked crescendo. It is moments like these that keep us coming back to drink the muddy, tepid water of the horror film well. Just don’t look down into that well too deeply, you might just see Michael Myers staring back at you…

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