Turn Back the Clock

Horror

Halloween (1978)

Distributed by: Compass International Pictures


Reviewed by Melissa Minners

 

            Itís that time of the year again.  Time to break out the Halloween decorations, candy and old movies.  Time to dim the lights, throw those movies into the DVD player and try to scare the crap out of ourselves.  I have an annual tradition that takes place around this time - I must watch the original movie that made the name of Michael Myers a horror franchise.  The movie is called Halloween and somehow this film still can give me the chills on a dark, dreary night.

            It all begins in 1963 when a six-year-old Michael Myers murders his sister with a large butcher knife, a disaster the likes of which has never been heard of in the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois.  Myers is sent to a psychiatric institution and placed under of Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance), a psychiatrist whose study of Myers has given him reason to believe that there is no way to rehabilitate him.

            In 1978, Michael Myers escapes the institution and Dr. Loomis is certain that he will be headed to his hometown.  Loomis warns the local police, but they downplay his worries.  After all, Haddonfield is a quiet town and nothing like the Myers murder has happened before or since.

            Meanwhile, Halloween preparations are taking place all over the neighborhood.  Teenager Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) takes it all in stride.  While the rest of her friends plan on enjoying the night with their boyfriends, Laurie will be staying at the Doyleís house, babysitting their son, Tommy.  What Laurie believes will be a relaxing night sitting in front of the television, eating popcorn and watching scary movies turns into a frightfest with Laurie fighting for her life as Michael Myers takes out her friends one by one and then goes after her.

            Now, I must say that Michael Myers doesnít really seem all that scary until he starts on his murderous journey.  The mask he wears isnít terrifying, but it does perfectly display the emotionless way Myers goes about his murders.  The scares come from the spooky piano music created by John Carpenter - music that anyone would recognize.  The notes of this song, played over and over throughout the film, sends chills up and down your spine.  The darkness of the film also contributes to that spooky feel.  With the exception of a couple of scenes, the cinematography of Halloween is very dark.  And, of course, the low budget effects gave the film its own brand of creepiness.  This was a film that relied on very little special effects to get its scare on.

            The acting - well, it is a tad melodramatic at times and, with some of the actors, non-existent.  But Donald Pleasance does an excellent job as Dr. Loomis.  One can tell that the doctor truly believes that Michael Myers is pure evil and that he is rattled by his experience with the man.  Halloween is Jamie Lee Curtisí debut film and although the film doesnít allow her to show her true range as an actress, there is one thing that this film does showcase - the utter terror she displays is completely believable.  It is no wonder that Jamie Lee Curtis became a household name in the horror film industry, finding herself cast in a number of horror flicks like The Fog, Prom Night, Terror Train and a number of Halloween sequels.

            I was talking to a co-worker the other day and I have to agree with his opinion that Halloween is a classic in the horror/slasher film genre.  This was a film that scared the likes of those who scorned horror films in the past.  Halloween was one of those films that had people looking over their shoulders on dark, windy nights wondering whether that shadow down the block wasnít the local serial killer coming for them.

            There have been many sequels and even a remake, but there can only be one true Halloween - the 1978 John Carpenter version of the film that touched off a whirlwind of copycat films and a never-ending storm of sequels.  This is the only Halloween that youíll find me watching once the last week of October rolls around.

 

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