The night HE came home… ‘Halloween’ (1978) Review

‘Halloween’ has since spawned a plethora of inferior imitators, but John Carpenter’s original classic slasher simply cannot be beaten. A masterclass of suspense building, chilling imagery, and iconic music produced by the legend himself, ‘Halloween’ shows what can be accomplished with a meagre budget when the right person is in full command of their craft.

The premise is so widely known its pretty much etched into the minds of anyone with a taste for films: Michael Myers kills his sister, then 15 years later escapes from a mental institution, and returns to his hometown to torment and kill a babysitter and her friends, randomly killing anyone in his way… 

A figure of pure evil, Michael Myers is one of cinema’s strongest villains: a voiceless, masked spectre who moves and kills with chillingly inhuman skill. One minute you see him, next he’s gone, like a whisper in the wind… though a breeze that leaves a path of bloody carnage.

From the impressive opening sequence featuring an outstanding long take, to the creepy instances of glimpsing Michael poking out in the background, and then on to the bone-chilling climax as he wreaks havoc with vicious intensity, ‘Halloween’ rides on its drawn-out dread build-ups, foregoes jump scares, and never forgets the audience it’s destined to frighten.

Always watching…

It’s a simple script, but it’s the imagery that Carpenter creates that linger long after the credits fade, expertly using the space and depth within a frame to set us on edge as Michael coldly and patiently gets closer to his targets. He makes Haddonfield’s suburban neighbourhood feel wide open, but not in a comforting way; instead it’s empty and devoid of commotion: a perfect playground for The Shape to toy with his helpless victims. 

Strong performances from a young Jamie Lee Curtis and the ever-watchable Donald Pleasance ensure that while Michael stalks his prey there is still enough human emotion to ground the depravity, while John Carpenter’s memorable score is further evidence as to why ‘Halloween’ is not just an iconic horror film, but the greatest slasher of all time that literally slaughters the competition.

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