movie-review_-halloweenCompas International Pictures
1978
R

“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.”

Fifteen years ago, Michael Myers brutally massacred his sister. Now, after escaping from a mental hospital, he’s back to relive his grisly crime again, and again…and again.

Before there were the horror icons of Jason Voorhees, Freddy Kruger and Pinhead, there was Michael Meyers. Kind of the older brother to the Big Four of the late 20th Century horror icons, making his first appearance in this little low budget independent slasher flick by a young John Carpenter, then a still relatively obscure film maker whose credits up to then were just Dark Star and Assault On Precinct 13.

With Halloween, Carpenter brought us a different kind of evil in Michael Meyers: a silent, mysterious killer who spent most of the time wearing a mask and leaving everyone in the dark as to his motivation or back story, save for the brief opening scene of him as a child. No reasoning, no explanation as to why. Michael kills, just because. Everything about him on the surface is…normal. His family, his suburban dwelling, even his name is unassuming. White bread. Safe. And that is what makes him so downright disturbing, really.

I should really pause to mention that, if the 2007 remake by Rob Zombie is the only version of Halloween you know of, stop reacting this, go out and secure a copy of the 1978 original, watch it, and then come back. Trust me; you owe it to yourself. And I realize this defeats the purpose of a review, but co’mon. If you haven’t watched this thing yet, you really need to. Continuing on…

What makes the original Halloween so effective is the simplicity: a psychotic killer breaks out of the asylum he was kept in, comes back to his home town and terrorizes a babysitter and the kids she’s watching. Said psychotic killer is being pursued by the psychiatrist who has worked with him since he was admitted as a boy, to help bring him back in. Or something to that effect.

The movie makes great use of minimalist aesthetics (which, given the budget, was the only way to do it), making the shadows, the void of the mask, and John Carpenter’s own composition of the theme music to great effect. And while future installments have turned this simplicity into something convoluted, this is the one that has the most lasting effect. Like I said earlier, if you haven’t seen it by now, for whatever lame excuse you have (if one of those excuses falls under “It was before I was born”, I have confidence you wouldn’t be reading this anyway, but just in case, THAT’S NOT AN EXCUSE!!!!) you still have time to rectify this. Watch it. It’s required watching.

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