HALLOWEEN

(1978)
With Donald Pleasance, Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Loomis, P. J. Soles, Charles Cyphers
Directed by John Carpenter

Reviewed by JB

I'm awake... commence running.     HALLOWEEN, Jamie Lee Curtis's first film, is the grandfather of all teen slasher films, but don't let stop you from enjoying it.  Go back to it, after 20-plus years of sequels, imitations, ripoffs and spoofs, and you'll immediately notice how simple it is. After decades of increasing blood, gore and dead bodies in horror films, it is almost shocking to remember that HALLOWEEN had a relatively low body count, little bloodshed and not one internal organ becoming external. 

     For younger horror fans, HALLOWEEN may be a snoozefest.  For older fans, who can still appreciate a superbly directed horror film without having blood and guts thrown in our face every ten minutes, HALLOWEEN is a true pleasure, a delight for horror fans and a virtual two-hour course on the art of making a great scary movie on a low budget.  Stylistically, it has more in common with JAWS than with all the FRIDAY THE 13th and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET films that followed in its wake. As with Spielberg and the shark in JAWS, John Carpenter does not reveal his monster right away.  Michael Myers (your standard sexually frustrated nutcase with a mask and a knife) is shown to us piece by piece - a shoulder here, a pair of feet there, a figure in soft focus standing across the street.  It's not until late into the film, during his final attacks, that we actually get our first real look at Myers.  It's the opposite of the "in your face" technique used by so many lesser horror films, and is one of the things that makes HALLOWEEN stand above its imitators.  As the genre evolved (or devolved), the victims would no longer matter; the slashers themselves would become the stars.  The films would not be about how helpless teens could escape from a mad killer, but what new and inventive ways of hacking up bodies Michael, Freddie, Jason or, God help us, Chucky the Killer Doll, could invent.

     As in most low-budget horror films, the acting is hit and miss.  There is one truly terrible performance in this film (I'll let you figure out whose it is), but thankfully, it is not that of Jamie Lee Curtis, who does a more than commendable job in her debut.  And, of course, Donald Pleasance + Movie Camera Capturing His Image = Icky and Disturbing. ½ - JB

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