Director: John Carpenter
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasance
Plot: A twisted psychopath escapes from an asylum and carries out his brutal obsession with killing, targeted at a babysitter (Lee Curtis) and her friends.
When looking back at the classic horror movies, it is hard not to take a look at Halloween. Not only does it star one of the most twisted serial killers in cinematic history, Mike Myers, it also happens to be directed by John Carpenter, one of the legends of horror films back in the 70s. This is simple, yet brilliant horror: essential viewing.
The film opens with a haunting scene, where a young boy turns on his family, killing his sister in the process. After that gruesome, shock start, the film jumps into the future, where we meet Donald Pleasance’s wary psychiatrist. He delves out the exposition, telling us that the boy has grown into the essence of evil, obsessed with bloody slaughter and beyond reasoning. No sooner have the words left his mouth when Mike Myers escapes the asylum and Pleasance is forced to hunt him down. Meanwhile, a group of teenagers are stuck babysitting, unaware that this deadly force is coming their way.
John Carpenter’s direction is beautiful to behold. These were the times when simple worked and masterpieces like this could be cooked up in twelve days. It would be laughable to attempt such a feat in today’s market. Carpenter makes the use of the natural darkness, working with minimal lighting and using it against itself to create an eerie, spooky atmosphere, which never lets up. The tension could be cut with a knife to the point where it almost becomes unbearable. Modern viewers might find the action a tad routine, but for the era this film was released, Halloween is a triumphant masterpiece.
Whether this kind of film succeeds or not is down to the movie monster and with the alarmingly creepy Mike Myers. He is kept in the shadows for a long time and despite opening the film with an extensive origin scene, we never truly learn what makes the character tick. He is evil for evil’s sake and while you might accuse Carpenter of laziness, the black and white nature of the villain works for the material. There will be no reasoning, not pointless sub-plot about the bad guy’s conscience. Myers is here to stab some young people and that’s that. He is famous for wearing the infamous mask, as cold as his own personality. Most masks these days like to have a smile spread across them, but there is no smile here. The mask is blank, empty and soulless. While I appreciate the idea of it, the garish white kind of kills the mood at times. Looking back, the horror does little for me. In short, Myers is scary in theory, but in practice, it is somewhat lacking.
Being an older horror movie, you will also notice all the trademarks before they became amusing clichés. This might be annoying to you or you might appreciate this movie as a monument to the history of the horror genre. We have the annoying douche character, the token scene of nudity. Worst of all, you will find yourself screaming at the television as the characters make stupid decision after stupid decision. That’s all part of the fun though. The real flaw of ‘Halloween’ is the fact that it is a tad predictable. It carries out like a routine horror, but with Donald Pleasance’s character kept to the side, you know how this film is going to end. There are a few shocks along the way, but when you know deep down what is going to happen, the fear factor might get toned down. However, all of these flaws come with the territory of watching a horror that is a few decades old. Appreciate it for its status as a classic and admire the direction.
Final Verdict: Diluted by age, but John Carpenter’s creation of Mike Myers deserves a viewing. Dark, eerie and troubling, in a good way.