Halloween begins, against all odds, on Halloween night (shock!) in Haddonfield, 1963. A young girl and her boyfriend decide to go up to her bedroom and get their sexy freak on, as long as someone named Michael is away. The camera is clearly serving as the point of view of a character watching the couple; in the time it takes this unseen character (admittedly, probably Michael) to move from his place, peering in from an outside window, where he hears this exchange, to the kitchen, where he grabs a knife, the guy has already finished, dressed, and leaves the house with a noncommittal remark about maybe calling the girl again sometime; this scientifically proves, once again, that the speed of light's got nothing on the speed of a teenage boy. After Don Juan (possibly not the real one) sneaks out the door, the unseen character picks up a clown mask, puts it on, and walks up the stairs to the girl's bedroom. The girl, brushing her hair while nearly nude, identifies the character as Michael and swiftly dies from several knife wounds. Moments later, the girl's parents come home and we finally get a camera shot of the savage Michael; he is a six year-old boy, dressed in a very ugly clown outfit, and he has just murdered his own sister, thus fulfilling the desire of many younger brothers, across the world.
|On the bright side, it appears to be stain-repellant|
Fast forward fifteen years, and it is 1978. After eight years of trying to treat young Michael Myers, Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) concluded that Michael is a soulless killing machine and has spent the last seven years trying to ensure that Michael stays in confinement for the rest of his life. Because, you know...that's what doctors do.
|That sounds reasonable|
|That...is just an unflattering screenshot|
There are two aspects of this film that really stand out. The first is the music. Director John Carpenter also composed the film's score, which includes the main theme (which acts as a cue that Michael is around and about to be creepy/evil), as well as the slightly less creepy through line that seems to follow Laurie around when she's not in danger. Most horror movies have mediocre and often instantly dated scores, but Carpenter created one of the best musical mood pieces in cinematic history. The music is classier and more unsettling than the Friday the 13th CH-Ch-ch AH-Ah-ah, and strong enough to follow Michael Myers into every one of his sequels. The camera work is the other noteworthy technical part of Halloween. In the opening scene POV shots (which, while done well, has been done before), it was an inspired idea to have the character don a mask and then have the camera see only through the eye holes of the mask. The rest of the movie is only nearly POV, with the camera actually just peeking over Michael's shoulder. This is far more effective than POV shots because it is more stable; this way, you aren't supposed to always know where Michael is and can still be surprised when he pops up.
|...like in a closet. For the record, he's looking for a crushed velvet jumpsuit.|
The acting and directing in Halloween are much better than you might expect, especially if you have seen the sequels. Jamie Lee Curtis wasn't spectacular in the film, aside from her Scream Queen shrieks, but she was as good here as anything else I've seen her in. Donald Pleasence is very good as the not-overreacting-at-all Doctor Loomis; he gives such a good speech about the evil of Michael Myers that you don't really need any proof to back up those claims. The supporting cast isn't great, with PJ Soles as the only stand out, partly because she is awesome at saying "totally" and partly because she shows her boobies.
|Read the directions, Laurie: stab repeatedly, until victim is definitely fertilizer|
While totally awesome, this movie does have some minor flaws. For starters, the POV camera in the opening scene is clearly being held at an adult height, despite Michael being only six at the time. That's not a big deal, but I refuse to believe that a six year-old that can hack his sister to death for no reason would allow anyone to dress him in that ugly costume. I mean, unless his sister dressed him; in that case, she had it coming. Still, that was a pretty cool scene, even if it was done just to add a tiny bit of shock when the killer is revealed to be a child. Another strange part comes when Michael stalks the boy Laurie is going to babysit that night; how would Michael know who the kid is? If it's just Michael being Michael (read: creepy), then why don't we see him stalk anyone not connected to Laurie? Another odd moment comes when viewers catch a glimpse of Michael without his mask on; he's nowhere near as frightening when he looks like an ordinary guy.
|Also odd: when he took a bathroom break and was out of position for this kill|
Despite those minor flaws, this is still a great movie that holds up to repeated viewings. Actually, those flaws become amusing and charming to those who are familiar with the movie. I may be a bigger fan of Jason Voorhies, but this is the movie that truly gave birth to the slasher subgenre and still towers over it to this day.