Monday, 31 October 2011

Halloween (1978)

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Not your standard trick or treating affair


On October 31st, 1963, Michael Myers murders his 15 years old sister, Judith. 15 years later, he escapes from a psychiatric hospital and returns home, stalking teenager Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her friends. Michael's psychiatrist, Dr Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) suspects Michael's intentions, and follows him to Haddonfield to try and prevent him from killing.

From the opening moments the iconic score plays, a lit jack-o-lantern appears against a black backdrop, setting the mood for the entire movie, effectively building up the tension and chilling the viewer with it's simplicity.

After the opening credits are done, we get a scene where we see Michael go up to his sisters room and stab her to death. This is done through the killer's point of view, which is a very effective use of the camera as it gives the audience a much larger sense of interaction, as we are seeing the murder take place through the eyes of the one doing the actual killing, rather than from the perspective of a narrative camera. This is also used well, as it manages to effectively hide the fact that the killer is a six year old child, making it all the more shocking.

Carpenter smartly decides to use the film's lighting to set the atmosphere, as opposed to the graphic violence and torrents of blood that occupy a 21st century slasher flick. Instead of making Michael's presence known by having his face appear in the scene, they make it known by using his shadow instead.

The entire score is perfectly unsettling, used to great effect all through the movie and never once used as a cheap jump scare that occupies the current slasher flicks. The use of Michael's heavy breathing throughout the scenes from his point of view helps to give the audience that larger sense of interaction that I mentioned a few paragraphs before, and manages to help unsettle the viewers.

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Michael wanted to make sure Bob stuck around
(I know it's bad, but it's the best I had at this time)

Jamie Lee Curtis plays Laurie Strode in her first film role, which launched her career as a scream queen, an Jamie Lee portrays Laurie as the girl who concentrates on the safety of the children she's looking after above her own, who may scream and run but isn't afraid to put up a fight, who is a typical girl, yet manages to be quite a well rounded and likable character, as opposed to the unlikable leads we are given into today's slasher flicks.

Carpenter boasts a brilliant direction in this film all throughout this film, from the different camera angles to use of the lighting, John Carpenter definitely knows what he is doing here, using everything about this film to such a great effect. He doesn't use useless scenes where a character gets a hand on his shoulder and gives the viewers a cheap jump-scare, but saves the jump-scares for moments that are genuinely scary and not at all cheap. Carpenter manages to stand out from the typical slasher flicks of today by choosing to devote the primary part of the film to developing the characters and building up the tension, focusing less on the actual slashing  not even showing us blood and gore as Carpenter wisely knows that isn't the truly chilling part of the horror film, and this makes the film become a pleasant departure from the slasher flicks we are accustomed to in this day and age.

Halloween is one of the greatest horror films that has ever been made. I can see that quite a bit of my review is trashing the slasher flicks of today, but when you look at this slasher flick that was made in the late 70s, is considered an utter classic and one of the greatest horror films made, and compare it with the slasher flicks we get today, you can see why slasher flicks are so derided in this day and age, and frankly, it makes me a little sad to see how much the genre has devolved in the 30 plus years since Halloweens initial release.

5 comments:

  1. I told you it was brilliant, I a glad you love it! It is an amazing horror achievement that is almost perfect!

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  2. Great review, this is one of the best horror films of all time

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  3. The Lighting and Atmosphere creeped the shit out of me. And mostly the part (pictured above) where Michael looks at the dead body by moving his head each way.

    Well it's not my favourite Slasher film but a major kick start to the genre and what will follow. Nice Review Dude! The rest are worth skipping if you haven't already

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  4. @Tom_Film_Master almost perfect is a perfect explanation of this film

    @ParanoidCreep97 Definately one of the best

    @Jesse P Yeah, I figured since Carpenter didn't direct any of the other Halloween films, but thats standard horror movie rules, first is brilliant, avoid the sequels

    Thanks for the comments, everyone

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  5. I might like to see this, probably this month where I am catching up on horror. great review!

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