Halloween (1978)

Rating: **
Review Date: 10/11/19
Director: John Carpenter
Written By: John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Music: John Carpenter
Cast: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Loomis, P.J. Soles, Nick Castle

A young Michael Myers stabs his older sister to death with a knife and is institutionalized under the care of Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence). Fifteen years later, Myers escapes and heads back to his home town so that he can kill more women. He's particularly interested in a school girl named Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), who he stalks throughout the first half of the film. However, there's no motivation given for his psychotic obsession with murder and his back story is never filled in. Dr. Loomis only says that he's evil incarnate and cannot be killed. After wiping out Laurie's promiscuous girlfriends, Myers hunts down Laurie in a tense game of cat-and-mouse before Loomis finally comes to the rescue. Sort of...

Seeing the film forty years after it originally came out, it's difficult to understand why it's such a classic. Are the slasher tropes that it embraced so ingrained in pop culture that it doesn't come across as original in any way? It's an overly simple and straight-forward affair, and the low budget production looks like a scrappy independent film. The film made a star out of Jamie Lee Curtis, even though her performance isn't particularly great. It doesn't help that she and the other actresses don't look age-appropriate for their roles, which makes it very confusing to figure out how old their characters are supposed to be. Donald Pleasence adds a touch of class to the film, but has little more than an extended cameo. It's surprisingly tame for a slasher film, and contains no graphic sex or gory violence. Apart from Michael Myers' creepy and expressionless mask, the biggest standout is probably John Carpenter's theme music, which is a chilling companion to Myers' enigmatic and supernatural presence. It's very effective at setting a mood and winding up tension. The film would have probably made a much greater impression on me if I'd seen it back when it was culturally relevant, but now it just feels weak and mediocre.