Directed by John Carpenter
John Carpenter’s Halloween is perhaps the most ubiquitous film in the horror genre and certainly of the slasher subgenre. There are little to no films that are as well known or whose attributes are as pervasive throughout society, especially thirty years after its release. This film takes the idea of the bogeyman and illustrates that even adults have not escaped the fear of an unknown evil.
Michael Myers escapes from a mental institution days prior to Halloween after being held for fifteen years for the murder of his older sister on Halloween night. Michael returns home to Haddonfield to continue his rampage with only his psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis, in pursuit.
This film relies on pacing and the audience’s imagination for the majority of the chills and thrills. This is contrary to the gore and rivers of blood of today's horror films that, while entertaining, do not often provide the same experience as when the audience is enveloped in a fear of their own creation. Halloween has a deliberately slow pace, which enables the filmmakers to build an atmosphere and pull the audience into the story.
Much of the tension comes about as a result of the single note score, whose sounds virtually guarantee the presence of Michael. These tones have become a hallmark of the franchise and embody much of what this film is able to accomplish: it’s simple, iconic, slow paced, and horrific.
Dr. Loomis and Michael Myers are both identified as strongly driven characters, so that there is a strong connection between their roles. Dr. Loomis is portrayed expertly by the eerie Donald Pleasence (The Great Escape). Sharing the lead is Jamie Lee Curtis (Prom Night (1980), The Fog (1980)).
Halloween is an enjoyable horror film that does very little wrong. There’s a reason it’s viewed by many each and every Halloween season!