[Editor’s Note: Halloween: The Ultimate Collection is now available and contains EVERY Halloween movie made! Check it out!-TMW]
“I met him, fifteen years ago; I was told there was nothing left; no reason, no conscience, no understanding; and even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes… the devil’s eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply… evil.”
–Dr. Samuel Loomis
If horror fans are going to talk about the genre as it relates to Halloween, then there is no calendar year of greater importance to that discussion than 1978. That was the year a young filmmaker named John Carpenter released his third film, a terrifying essay of almost non-stop suspense titled Halloween.
For those of you who may have been off the planet for the past few decades, John Carpenter’s Halloween tells the story of a psychopath named Michael Myers, who breaks free from a sanitarium on October 30th, 1978 and – pursued by Sam Loomis, his long time doctor (the late, great Donald Pleasence turning in a superb performance) – cuts a path of death and destruction back to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois, the same locale where he murdered his older sister Judith as a little boy back in 1963.
Once he returns home, Michael dons an eerily expressionless white mask, picks up a large butcher knife and embarks upon a reign of terror that would alter the course of horror film history and elevate the slasher genre as a box office force to be reckoned with.
The genius of Halloween is that it’s all about fear. The film is more interested in getting under the viewer’s skin than grossing them out. There’s violence, but no overt gore. The chills come from watching the silent killer play sadistic cat and mouse games with his victims, a trio of local babysitters (including a young Jamie Lee Curtis, in her first major role) he targets from afar early on and proceeds to hunt for the remainder of the film.
Michael Myers is presented here as pure, unstoppable malevolence, the absence of reason in the face of pure evil. He is death incarnate and rightly earns a place as one of the legendary cinematic nightmares.
A huge hit, Halloween spawned multiple sequels, the first of which would bring the killer back to terrify audiences in 1981.
***** out of ***** stars. I still consider this the greatest American horror film ever made, with only The Exorcist seriously challenging it. If you’ve somehow never seen the original Halloween, treat yourself this October 31st. But don’t watch it alone.
Check out the Halloween trailer: