Posted on: October 29, 2020 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Happy Halloween everyone! Today’s review will be looking at the film that is perceived to have started the slasher genre. While most consider the genesis of slashers to be “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974), “Halloween” (1978) is more widely known as creating the subgenre. Its budget was estimated to be only a little over $300,000, which is baffling. John Carpenter accomplished so much with so little. This movie is by no means perfect, but the amount of effort and messages the film is going for makes this movie fantastic. 

Andrew Pahl

Movie Reviewer

“Halloween” (1978) was directed by John Carpenter and stars Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie and Donald Pleasence as Dr. Loomis. This is the story of a boy, Michael Myers, who murders his sister, Judith, as a young boy on Halloween night and returns to his home 15 years later to continue the path of destruction he had started years ago.

The premise of this story is simple, but what makes this movie so much more than it is on paper is Carpenter’s direction. The opening scene alone with the long POV shot of Myers going into his house is masterful. The setting also makes the movie relatable to many people and establishes to the audience that anything can happen anywhere, even in the comfort of your own town. It feels isolated in a sense because this all takes place in one day and pretty much stays in two locations once night falls for the rest of the movie.

Carpenter understood that to get this person over as a massive evil entity invading this town, Michael Myers needs to have a presence everywhere. Even when Myers is not on the screen, the characters are talking about him, and Loomis is constantly saying how things are going to get very bad soon. What makes Myers’ presence so well-established is how Carpenter set up the shots. For example, if Myers is in the background watching people, the camera could be either facing upwards from the ground, making him seem larger than life and keeping us from getting a good look at him for some time, or the camera could show the audience what is happening from Myers’ perspective.

The tension is never lost because we get the accompanying score that Carpenter created himself, even though he is not a musician. What makes this iconic score so tense is its repetition. It’s the same notes going back and forth while adding more bass. People can get uncomfortable when the same notes are playing over and over again or a single sound is just ringing in the background. 

While Carpenter absolutely nailed the technical aspect of film, from sound editing with Myers breathing in the mask to the use of the foreground and background of a scene, the characters are nothing to write home about. Donald Pleasence’s character is the only person with a lot going on with a deep attachment to the plot, since he was Myers’ doctor. However, Laurie and her friends don’t have much to them. Her two friends like to have sex, smoke, and not take school seriously, while Laurie is a smart goody-two-shoes who doesn’t get in trouble.

With these character traits, the movie established a long-standing tradition in the slasher genre regarding what happens to certain characters based on their actions–until “Scream” came out in the 90s and flipped the entire horror genre around. However, Laurie’s character is important because it established a strong female character who can outsmart the killer. This, in the grand scheme of the genre, is really influential. 

“Halloween” (1978) is flawed in some aspects, and most of its sequels are awful, but it was truly lightning in a bottle and “totally” revolutionary, popularizing a sub-genre and creating an iconic killer with a prop as simple as a William Shatner mask sprayed white.

I’m giving “Halloween” (1978) 4 out of 5 stars. It is a perfect movie to watch on Halloween and shows that even with little to no money on a project, with enough passion and perseverance, you can create something amazing.