HOLLYWOOD—It was the horror flick of my childhood, the boogeyman as some would call it that left me frightened for years even as an adult. Does anyone have a guess as to what film I am referring to? I’m talking about John Carpenter’s 1978 classic “Halloween.” There was something about the level or simplicity, yet cunning directorial ability of Carpenter and his witty script that has been copied and utilized for decades to come in the horror genre.
The iconic villain known in the script as ‘The Shape’ better known as Michael Myers is what horror does best. The audience knows nothing about our villain, except he murdered his teen sister at the age of 6, spent 15 years in a sanitarium not speaking a word before escaping and going on a murder spree on Halloween night. Myers is such a presence in the horror world because the mask is iconic. It’s a William Shatner mask that was spray painted white. Who would have ever guessed that in a million years? I know I wouldn’t. I recently watched the film on TV and it still holds the same dread, fear and fun that it did so many years ago when I first watched the flick on network TV when I was 11 or 12, I think. We cannot talk about “Halloween” without talking about that iconic music scored by John Carpenter.
It sends utter chills down the spine for even the most bravado man out there. Trust me if you were walking down the street at night and that music cued up and you had no clue where it was coming from, you better not tell me you wouldn’t sprint to your final destination because I would not believe a single word out of your mouth. Carpenter’s iconic flick is still heralded as one of the scariest films of all time because of its simplicity. Yes, I know that is a word that seems convoluted because it’s easier said than done. The story consists of three elements, a murder escapes a mental institution and stalks babysitters on Halloween night.
That’s the story in a nutshell; we don’t know why Michael Myers is doing what he is doing, but that is what makes the movie so scary. The unknown drives horror much more than actually knowing the motivation behind someone’s mayhem. Jamie Lee Curtis is perfectionist as our heroine or final girl, and I’d make the argument that “Halloween” is not an actual slasher film. It set the stage for all the mayhem we endured in the horror genre in the 80s and early 90s, but it was not a hack and kill type of flick. In all honesty there are only three major kills throughout the entire film and the violence is tame compared to “Friday the 13th” and so many other flicks of the horror genre. Laurie Strode (Curtis) is well aware that something is not right the moment she spots Michael Myers outside of her classroom. The dread stays with her until the movie reaches that climatic moment where Laurie comes face-to-face with Michael Myers.
“Halloween” is so much fun because all of our characters are in peril, the dialogue is fantastic and it immediately sutures you as soon as the opening credits begin. If that music doesn’t hook you right away, I’m not sure what will. This is a film that I can watch and never get tired of it, it’s like each time I watch the film I learn something new that I missed the last time I watched the movie. There is no greater scare for the month of Halloween than watching this classic film that gave birth to the horror genre as we know it. “Halloween” is by far the greatest horror film of all time, no one could argue otherwise in my opinion.