The Original 1978
Well, what can I say about this movie that hasn't been said a million times before? While it's not the first slasher, it's the one that brought the genre to the forefront. John Carpenter's $300,000 effort went on to become the most successful independent film of all time- until another horror movie, The Blair Witch Project, claimed the mantle 20 years later.
There's been talk of this film getting remade. The latest I've heard, however, is that Carpenter put a halt to that- which is good, because if he didn't, I might have had to. Had a remake made it to the screen, there's no telling what I would've done. There's a good chance I would've climbed the Empire State Building, King Kong style, and shot fireworks out of my balled-up fists. I would've pulled my hair out and thrown it at people...I'm tellin' ya, I would've gone on a rampage of explosive hate and pain like the world has never seen! You hear me, Hollywood? YOU HEAR ME? I'm talkin' to YOU!
Ahem. But really, what could a remake bring to the table? What would've been changed? Halloween has such style and atmosphere and firmly establishes its own mythology, I can't imagine what a new version would be like. The first half, if not the first two thirds, of this movie are build, and they just don't make 'em that way anymore. From the start, Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) lets us know that Michael Myers is not human, and that he WILL be coming home to continue what he started the night he killed his sister 15 years earlier. Michael, even as a child, we're told has "the blackest eyes...the Devil's eyes. [He is] purely and simply evil.". He's the boogeyman of everyone's nightmares.
We're introduced to Michael very early on, and we know Loomis is right- Myers has returned to Haddonfield. He drives around, he stands behind bushes, appears and disappears in the blink of an eye...you get a heavy feeling of dread that lasts all the way until the credits roll. Michael's face isn't shown fully, isn't revealed, until he kills Annie (Nancy Loomis- where the hell has she gone?)- and then we see it through the fogged windows of the car. Carpenter is so adept at creating a spectre of a killer- it's what makes Michael Myers, to my mind, the most frightening of all movie maniacs.
John Carpenter and co-producer/co-writer, the late Debra Hill, made a "list of scares" before they set about writing the script, then they simply worked them into the story. There's so many fantastic, scary moments throughout that I could go on forever: hearing Michael breathing somewhere in the darkened kitchen while Bob gets his post-coital beer...the image of Annie, sprawled dead on the bed, with Judith Myers's headstone behind her and a lit jack-o-lantern beside her...Michael sitting up to turn and look at Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) after she thinks she's killed him...Michael slowly emerging from the darkness behind Laurie after she finds Annie's body...the movie just plain works. And it's all so simple- Carpenter uses an economy of shots and that soundtrack rather than excessive violence or gore to scare the audience. It lacks the obviousness and crassness of later slashers. What's more terrifying than the long distance shot of Michael simply carrying Annie's body into the house?
Like I said, I could blah blah blah all day about Halloween. It's one of my favorite movies, and no matter how many times I've seen it, it still gets to me. I felt my stomach tighten even this morning when Laurie was trying to get in the house ("The keys...the keeeeeysss!") and Michael was coming across the street toward her...but I've got 7 more of these damn things to get through, so I'll shut up now and start Part 2.
"It was the boogeyman, wasn't it?"
"As a matter of fact, it was."