Halloween (1978)

The night he came home.

Year of Release: 1978
Genre: Horror
Rated: R
Running Time: 91 minutes (1:31)
Director: John Carpenter


Donald Pleasence ... Dr. Sam Loomis
Jamie Lee Curtis ... Laurie Strode
Nancy Kyes ... Annie Brackett
P.J. Soles ... Lynda van der Klok
Charles Cyphers ... Sheriff Leigh Brackett
Kyle Richards ... Lindsey Wallace
Brian Andrews ... Tommy Doyle
John Michael Graham ... Bob Simms
Tony Moran ... Michael Myers (age 23)
Will Sandin ... Michael Myers (age 6)
Nick Castle ... The Shape
John Carpenter ... Paul, Annie's Boyfriend (voice) (uncredited)


On a black and unholy night, 15 years ago, little Michael Myers brutally slaughtered his sister in cold blood. Now, after escaping from a mental hospital, he has returned to his quiet neighborhood to relive his hideous crime. Again. And again. And again. For this is a night of evil. For tonight is Halloween!


Halloween, the movie that reminds us that you can go home again, but sometimes your psychiatrist shows up an tries to off you with his revolver. I think it's both clear who loves and hates this one. People with taste love it, and idiots hate it. That bit of information is neither useful, nor insightful. What you might be interested in knowing is who has a love/hate relationship with it. Well, I'll tell you who. Fundamentalist Christian whackjobs, that's who. For good to exist, you need evil, right? Well, even though Michael Myers didn't do it first, according to most, he did it best. And by best, I mean, scared the bejezus outta a whole lot of people an got a lot of simple minded imbeciles to thinkin' that movies are what cause people to go ape shit an chop each other up into people pot pie. Better still, Halloween is particularly dangerous because of the spooky overtones surrounding it. So what do they do? They take a bad situation an turn it into something positive. They make up what're called "Hell Houses" an bring in a bunch of children so they can flog the teachings of Christ into 'em an make sure they know they're horrible sinners that owe Jesus everything they got so they'll spend the rest of their lives givin' their money to the church so the local holy man'll have enough money to keep himself in hookers. This not only keeps 'em off the streets during Halloween so they don't accidentally encounter anything fun, but also poisons their brains at the same time. Fundies really have a weird, symbiotic relationship with movies like this. Seems like a dog chasing a car type situation to me. What do you suppose they'd do if they actually achieved what they were after an were able to stop them from being made? The dog doesn't know what it'll do if it catches the car, an they don't know what they'd do either. It's just an irrational crusade that makes 'em look good to their flock. Whatever works, I guess. Anyhow, Halloween's been imitated so many times that you probably figure that if you've seen one slasher movie you've seen 'em all. You sicken me, incidentally. But more importantly, you'd be mistaken. Because any horror movie that's good enough to get ratings near 80% on both the IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes, is an anomaly that requires a lot of stars to align, and cannot under any circumstances be overlooked. So pay attention, this is important.

First, if you're confronted by bullies while carrying a pumpkin, put it down. I cannot stress this enough. There's still a good chance they're gonna squish it into pie filling, but at least make them work for it. The way I figure it, they'll probably at least leave their groin region unprotected when they reach down to pick it up. Second, If a psychiatrist tells you that someone is pure evil, you really need to take note of it. Because generally speaking, psychiatrists spend their lives trying to explain to us simple folk about how it's okay that some guy went loony one night an butchered 237 chickens after screwin' a goat, because he has MENTAL TRAUMA. Then they go on this big spiel about how it's not the guy's fault this happened cause when he was 7 his Dad tanned his hide when he caught 'im wearin' his Mama's underpants. So you gotta understand, if the psychiatrist straight up tells you the guy's outta his cracker, there's a serious problem with the person an the situation requires some immediate attention. An third, I know a lot of people blame Ronnie Reagan for releasin' all the loonies onto the streets to save a few bucks, but realistically, they would have escaped anyway. Mike wasn't anywhere near the first an he won't be anywhere near the last, so lets just give Ron some slack, alright?

Mike's problems aside, there's an exchange in this movie between Nancy Kyes an Jamie Lee Curtis that I really take issue with. See, Jamie's got the introversion pretty bad, an all her friends have the extroversion. So Nancy figures Jamie needs an Introcism to get that unnatural way of thinkin' out of her system so she'll stop spending so much time thinkin' an spend more time doin' things that make it onto America's Dumbest. Introverts scare the bejezus outta extroverts, an I think there's a couple reasons for this. First, extroverts seem to have this problem where there's no stop light between their brain an their mouth an they have to say everything they think. They don't think too much about it until they run into someone that quietly deliberates before blurting things out an then they start feelin' stupid an have to pants that person so they quit feelin' self conscious. Then there're the ones that're just so insecure that they get the idea that if they're talkin' to someone an that person isn't tryin' to interrupt 'em every five seconds to talk about themselves, that that person must be thinking bad thoughts about them while they're rambling, an then they get super uncomfortable an develop a mental complex where they start to question their every action. The notion that people are capable of living without the spotlight is one that they have a real rough time with, so they figure there's something genuinely wrong with introverts. It's not that they're different, they're downright defective. There are people, right now, actually trying to get introversion added to the list of mental disorders. Once you can get past just how pathetic that is, it's really pretty insulting to people who have legitimate mental disorders. So I hope that after reading that, you extroverts can stop callin' up the boy that Jamie Lee Curtis secretly likes an tryin' to make dates for her cause you think you're doin' her a real service. You're not, that's just your stop light not workin' again.

The movie begins on Halloween night in 1963, with a point of view villain wanderin' around outside a house watchin' a couple teenagers get real familiar on their couch until they have to go upstairs so they don't leave unsightly stains an unscently smells on the parents' couch. When they've gone, the point of view villain grabs a butcher knife an makes for the prey. The bad news, is that one of his would-be victims has the most severe case of premature ejaculation disorder in the history of the world an he's headed out by the time the POV killer can even get to the staircase. The good news is that the girl is good an nekkid so the knife won't get hung up in clothing when between stabbins. So the POV villain stabs the girl about eight or nine times an then has to head outside cause he's a little winded from all the stabbin'. Only about that time a couple pulls up to the house an start askin' the POV villain what the heck he's doin' outside with a bloody butcher knife an no jacket an once the point of view angle finally ends we discover the POV killer is a little boy, an that he just diced his sister up into ground chuck. Flash forward to Halloween Eve, 1978, where Donald Pleasance an a nurse are drivin' to an insane asylum where they're gonna pick the kid (Now 21, despite what the credits that fail at math might tell you) so they can take 'im to his permanent digs. Only when they arrive it looks like a bunch of drunken Klansmen're havin' a shindig cause all they can see are a pack of dimwits wanderin' around in the rain in hospital sheets an Donald starts thinkin' the place either has a really poor scheduler for "outside time" activities, or something's seriously amiss. Then, when Donald gets out to open the gate, one of the Klansmen hops up on top of the roof of the car an despite the nurse' attempt to sling 'em off, it doesn't work an the nutbar puts his fist through the window an carjacks her. Once Donald figures out what happened, he gets this look on his face like he just realized he left his dog attached to the bumper before he left an we know some bad stuff is about to go down. The next morning (Halloween), Jamie Lee Curtis heads to school with the little punk she's stuck babysitting for most of her life on account of her not having the social skills required to be a normal teenager. Along the way, she has to drop off a key for her Dad at the House Where Evil Dwells so some suckers can take a walk through an decide whether the bloody floor that just won't come clean is worth dealing with in exchange for the price break, but when she turns to leave, a shadowy figure pops up an watches her go, breathing like Darth Vader.

Elsewhere, Donald is pissed. The scrub of an institutional director's got his head so far up his ass Donald isn't even sure if the guy can hear him yellin' at him, so he storms off in the direction he thinks Mike (The now grown up boy that murdered his sister in the 1963 sequence and that escaped the institution) is likely to have gone. After awhile, Donald comes across an abandoned truck with Mike's Klansman regalia inside an a corpse that we can only assume is in the nekkid, an he calls the sheriff of Haddonfield (Mike's home town) an tells 'im his ass better call somebody, cause Mike's headed his way an he's in a stabbin' mood. Back in Haddonfield, Jamie an her valley girl friends (Lynda and Annie) are walkin' home from school, an Annie's whining about how her boyfriend got caught bein' a teenager an banished to his room til the new millennium an that she's stuck takin' a rain check on the cock. While this is goin' on, a car that looks suspiciously like the one Donald's gonna have to pay for if he can't get it back to the institution passes by an Annie yells at it to slow down an stay off her lawn. Immediately, the car screeches to a halt an it looks like the driver's about to hop out an kung fu all three of their hineys, but eventually drives off an the girls all head home. Later on, after Jamie's been spooked a couple more times by the phantom of the station wagon, Annie calls up an really scares the tar outta her when she can't remember how to chew an talk at the same time. She calls back only seconds later an wants to know where Jamie comes off hangin' up on her just for chompin' down on Capn Crunch cereal at 90 decibels in her ear an tells Jamie she'll come by to pick her up later. Meanwhile, Donald is tiptoeing through the tombstones with the grounds keeper of the cemetery when they come upon the grave of Judith Myers an realize it's got a lot less head stone than it did the week before an Donald gets this look on his face like you'd expect Sherlock Holmes to get right after cracking a real noodle scratcher. While this is goin' on, Annie's picked up Jamie an they're cruisin' around town to "Don't Fear the Reaper", which is exactly the opposite of what they aughta be doin' cause he's drivin' right behind 'em an they're completely oblivious to it. Before long they pull over to see what Annie's Dad (the sheriff) is up to. Seems somebody broke into one of the shops an stole a William Shatner mask. Which is quite a mystery, considering it'd been sitting in the 10 for a Dollar bin for about six years. So about the time they leave, Donald pulls in to talk to the sheriff in a venue that guarantees he cannot be hung up on. During the ride home, Annie browbeats Jamie about what a prude she is an eventually Jamie lets slip her deep dark secret about finding a boy attractive an you've gotta believe with Annie's personality, this is gonna go really embarrassingly for Jamie.

Then Donald gets the sheriff to let him into the Myers' house so he can stand around somberly an grimly recount the story of what happened to Judith an why it's imperative that the sheriff help him stop Mike before he can shred all the local kids like a block of cheddar. By this point, Jamie's stuck babysitting the little punk. But while she's reading the kid a story Annie calls up an tells her she talked to the guy Jamie's got a case of the screamin' thigh sweats for an how he's real excited about goin' out with her an Jamie gets this look on her face like she'd went to the pool an her period unexpectedly struck. Meanwhile, the punk (Tommy) thinks he saw somebody outside, but when Jamie looks there's nothin' out there an then Annie has to hang up cause she just caused an unsightly stain on her shirt an needs to get it in the washer on the double. She gets a lot of unsightly stains on her clothing, so she understands that time is of the essence in this kind of situation. Then Mike shows up outside the place Annie's babysitting an starts eyeballin' her funbags until the family dog sounds the alarm an Mike has to twist the dog's head around backwards so it'll quit blowin' his cover. So while Jamie an Tommy start butchering their pumpkin, Annie gets her clothes in the washer with only a moment to spare. Only the wind blows the door shut an she can't get outta the laundry room, so she has to squeal like a stuck pig until the girl she's supposed to be takin' care of comes an pulls her big ass outta the window she tried to escape through to avoid embarrassment. Thank goodness the kid showed up, having to admit you locked yourself in might have been embarrassing. Meanwhile, the phone's ringin' in Annie's place an when she's finally able to get it she finds out her boyfriend was able to escape from solitary an he's got a special delivery for her nether regions. So Annie dumps her baggage (Lindsey) on Jamie so she can go ride the wild baloney pony. Only when she gets in her car to go, Mike pops outta the backseat an squeezes her neck til her eyeballs start crowning outta the sockets an eventually decides that cutting her throat is a whole lot simpler. Back over at Jamie's place, Tommy's lookin' out the window again, an this time sees Mike plain as day an starts goin' ape shit about the boogyman takin' his corpse for a walk an Jamie has to threaten to shut off the cable to get 'im to calm down. On the one hand, he doesn't wanna get sliced into pastrami, but on the other, he idea of missing the series premiere of Battlestar Galactica scares him just as much, so he settles down.

Back over to the Myers house, where Donald is startin' to think he's been stood up on account of bein' this far into the movie without a single Mike sighting. But about that time the sheriff shows up an starts whinin' about how he's missin' all the trick or treatin' action an Donald hasn't even been able to produce any proof that there's a good reason for it. Donald's got a real silver tongue though, an the sheriff figures it's pointless to argue an goes back to drivin' around the block over an over. Elsewhere, Lynda an her boyfriend Bob figure they're gonna sneak into the house Annie's occupying so they can make the sign of the double pronged wallaby. Only they don't have to sneak at all, cause Lindsey's been dumped on Jamie an Annie's leakin' Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce all over the front seat of her hatchback. Then after a solid 17 seconds of sex, Bob finishes up an Lynda congratulates him on a new record before he leaves to get some beer, only when Bob gets downstairs Mike steps out an grabs 'im around the carotid artery an lifts 'im up off the ground an pins 'im to the wall like a post it note with his industrial sized thumb tack. After he sits back and admires his work a little bit, he puts a sheet over himself an heads up to check to see if Lynda's got fantastic breasts or not. Turns out she does. But Lynda gets a little miffed at him for bein' too shy to say anything an she decides to call up Jamie an see if Annie turned up cause she's a little disappointed that Annie didn't walk in on her havin' sex. As a teenager, it's barely even worth havin' sex if everyone doesn't know out about it. But about the time she finishes dialin', Mike wraps the cord around her neck an Jamie hangs up after it starts soundin' like Lynda's usin' the other end of the phone as a marital aid. Jamie's startin' to get a little worried now too, an after she checks to make sure the kids are asleep, she heads over to Annie's place to figure out who's pokin' who with what. Over at the Myers house, Donald is just about to give up on the movie when he spots his missing station wagon about a block away. Oh for fuck's sake, how long has that been there? Donald's not gonna tell anybody about this, but he does get the sheriff so they can make a sweep of the neighborhood. Meanwhile, Jamie thinks she's bein' screwed with on account of the lights bein' out and nobody answerin' her, but she figures out why after she finds all her friends' corpses upstairs. As if that wasn't traumatic enough, Mike starts peekin' around the corner an Jamie ends up backpedaling right over the stairway railing an leaves about 50 Lego impressions in her back when she lands. Mike's onto her now, an the shit has officially gotten real as Jamie tries to gimp her way to safety. I know you've all seen it, don't care. Not spoiling the ending.

Alrighty, so this one's about as famous as any horror movie can get. Everyone knows it, everyone gets it, only the lamest of the lame would even bother reviewing it at this point cause you've gotta realize there's nothing new you can add that 20 people haven't already said about it. You've got some attitude, mister. Besides, I do have something to say about it that only 18 other people have ever said about it, and that's that the movie is over rated. Now don't go all Fred Sanford just yet, I'm not saying it's bad, not by any stretch of the imagination. I'm not even saying it's average. It's good. And for once, I actually agree with the IMDB rating and find the Rotten Tomatoes rating to be too high. Yeah, that's definitely one for the books. They hate everything and yet, they have Halloween rated as a stellar 94%. The ratings on Rotten Tomatoes really don't hold any water unless you're dealing with anything mainstream, and I mean MAIN mainstream. Halloween's a very popular movie, but it's got under 100 total ratings, so you really can't take it too seriously. IMDB, in contrast, has over 100,000 for Halloween. I'd actually rate it slightly higher than the IMDB, but when I refer to the movie being over rated, I refer strictly to the opinions of genre fans, who generally consider it a 9 or a 10. I find it a tad slow. Not painfully slow, not slow in the sense that it's really even worth complaining about it, just a little slow for me, personally. Don't get me wrong, I really hate movies that never slow down long enough to do anything with the plot or generate any suspense. Those generally can't even attain a 7/10 because they're too manic. But I do find Halloween a little dry, and would consider it over rated by genre fans. Interestingly, but not unusually, many actors had been considered for the part of Sam Loomis. The part was outright offered to both Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, who both abstained. After seeing it, Lee regretted his decision. But several other big names were considered for the part, among them; David Carradine, Charles Napier, Lawrence Tierney, Mel Brooks and John Belushi. The last two seem completely asinine, but the others are all pretty interesting. I think Donald Pleasance was the way to go, even though I like many of the other outstanding character actors listed. I think Peter Cushing would have been the second best choice behind Pleasance, if it had to be one of the others. Even with minimal star power, Halloween became the highest grossing independent movie up to that point, and became one of the big three in terms of money making horror indies. Along side The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Evil Dead. I find the other two superior, but that's pretty good company nonetheless.

Okay, so we know it's great. But why is it great? Well the plot is only slightly more intricate than the average slasher flick. In fact, it's really not more intricate at all, it just happens to have an unusual plot twist by having the killer make his true colors known at age 6. You don't know what motivates him, you don't know what set him off, and you don't know who he really is. These are all things Carpenter did deliberately to prevent the audience from sympathizing with or relating to the killer, which does happen in this type of movie from time to time. So while you can complain about the lack of information given about Michael Myers and why he does what he does, I'd find that rather foolish. Not just because it's deliberate, but because it works. He's supposed to be the personification of evil, that's explanation enough. For a low budget movie, the acting almost seems impossibly good, because with the exception of Donald Pleasance, nobody else had any kind of a name. It doesn't seem like it should even be possible to make a movie with such a low budget, and get acting this good. And yet, it's true. Donald Pleasance is the glue that holds it all together, but back before Jamie Lee Curtis went all Hollywood on us, she was probably the biggest scream queen of the era. Neither of them need much elaboration, but these individuals might: Nancy Kyes (The Fog, Halloween II, Halloween III), P.J. Soles (Beg, Alone in the Dark II, The Tooth Fairy, Death by Engagement, The Devil's Rejects, Mirror Mirror IV, Uncle Sam, Alienator, B.O.R.N., Carrie), Charles Cyphers (Hunter's Blood, Halloween II, Escape from New York, The Fog), Kyle Richards (Eaten Alive 1977, The Car), Nancy Stephens (Halloween H20, Halloween II, Escape from New York), Arthur Malet (Beastmaster 2, Savage Harvest), Mickey Yablans (A Nightmare on Elm Street 4), Tony Moran (Beg), Nick Castle (Escape from New York), George O'Hanlon Jr. (The Evil), Gwen Van Dam (Le6ion of the Dead, Star Trek: Generations, Terror out of the Sky).

P.J. Soles has a fairly significant celebrity these days as well, but maybe not enough to omit her resume. So bonus points for the acting on account of the budget restrictions. The shooting locations, while somewhat mundane on the surface, are enhanced greatly by the highly skilled cinematography. It's clear that great lengths were gone to, to make Haddonfield seem like a real, average American town and I think they were able to do that. As far as the special effects go, contrary to what people may say about how bloody and violent the movie is, that's only the half truth. It is violent, to be sure, but bloody it is not. And there really aren't many special effects in the movie at all. The movie is more about what you don't see. That said, what effects exist, are perfectly acceptable. And lastly, the soundtrack. Unquestionably one of the most famous soundtracks in movie history. Not just horror movie history. Movie history. The simplicity of each track is rivaled only by its effectiveness. Additionally, they use a lot of single tone sound effects that're drawn out to great length to generate tension and atmosphere, and it works, every time. The soundtrack to Halloween is a text book example of how every composer should go about setting the proper mood and tone for a movie, and while I'm not sure it's the most effective soundtrack ever made for a movie, it's probably in the top five. Jaws comes to mind as another great one, as does Phantasm. Overall, it's a classic. And while it's not exactly the first real slasher movie the way many people claim it is, it did things just a bit different than the other slasher movies (many of which you'd probably consider "whodunnits") that came before it, to properly establish what a modern slasher movie should be. And make no mistake, while others did it before Halloween, Halloween did it miles better than any that came before. Not counting The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which I wouldn't consider to be a true slasher movie anyway. It's fantastic, it's timeless, but it's not perfect. No matter what the fan boys may say about it.

Rating: 83%