Halloween (1978) B+
Made on a tiny budget of $300,000, with only 20 days of shooting, John Carpenter’s inventive horror film is one of the most successful and commercial indie in America film history.
It’s hard to think of another 1970s film, which came out of nowhere, and revitalizes a whole genre for the next decade or so. “Halloween” may be the most influential and imitated film ever.
It was “The Night HE Came Home,” promised the posters for Carpenter’s career-making horror smash hit. And what follows certainly delivered the expected goods and joys—and more.
In Haddonfield, Illinois on Halloween night 1963, six-year-old Michael Myers inexplicably slaughters his teenage sister.
His psychiatrist Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) can’t understand Michael’s psyche after years of institutionalization, but he knows that, when Myers escapes before Halloween in 1978, there’s going to be hell and mayhem in Haddonfield.
While Loomis heads to Haddonfield to alert the police, Myers spots bookish teenager Laurie Strode (the very young Jamie Lee Curtis) and follows her. He seems to constantly appear and vanish as Laurie and her looser friends, Lynda (P.J. Soles) and Annie (Nancy Loomis), make their Halloween plans.
By nightfall, the responsible Laurie is doing her own and Annie’s babysitting jobs, while Annie and Lynda have fun in the parent-free house across the street.
When Annie and Lynda do not answer the phone, the increasingly suspicious Laurie heads across the street to the darkened house to see what’s going on.
Carpenter borrows freely from such classic horrors as “Psycho,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” ”The Exorcist,” “Black Christmas,” among other, but end result is not a pastiche or a hybrid of conventions.
Serious critics, such as the great Canadian reviewer Robin Wood, have claimed that the film’s confusion in the conception of the monster and its lack of real thinking are covered by formal and stylistic inventiveness. Perhaps. But there’s no denying of the visual pleasures and the scary creepiness that the movie generates.
The stunning opening is a tracking shot from the killer’s point of view. The second shot reveals the murderer as the victim’s bewildered brother, age 6.
This horror film suggests that the child-monster is a product of a rigid nuclear family and small-town environment.
The casting of Donald Pleasance, who usually plays villain, makes his character as a psychiatrist all more perverse and creepy.
n terms of input-output, “Halloween”may well be the most profitable picture ever made, grossing over $18 million at the domestic box-office.
Running Time: 93 Minutes.
Directed by John Carpenter
Screenplay: John Carpenter, Debra Hill.
Released: October 25, 1978.
DVD: October 27, 1997
Compass International Pictures
Donald Pleasence as Doctor Loomis
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie
Nancy Loomis as Annie
P.J. Soles as Lynda
Charles Cyphers as Brackett
Kyle Richards as Lindsay
Brian Andrew as Tommy
John Michael Graham as Bob
Nancy Stephens as Marion
Sandy Johnson as Judith Myers
David Kyle as the Boyfriend
Arthur Malet as Graveyard Keeper
Tony Moran as Michael Myers age 21
Robert Phalen as Dr. Wynn
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