With a budget of $300,000, a simple concept, and a relatively unknown director... no one expected anything big from "Halloween". When it grossed $43 million in the box office, it instantly became a horror classic which spawned an entire genre of slasher films. It also created several cliches such as the promiscuous teenagers who die first and the virgin girl who outsmarts the monster to survive. Utilizing certain camera techniques and a haunting film score, Carpenter creates a structurally perfect film that gives audiences anxiety even to this day. But what really makes this film timeless is how it sparks a feeling of both fear and uneasiness by building up an antagonist who lives up to his portrayal as the boogeyman. So let's dive into this cult classic that still gives people a nice scare around Halloween.
While "Halloween" and "Halloween II" (the originals) may be the only good films in the picture above, it's pretty clear the movie has had a lasting impact on audiences. After it's initial release in 1978 Halloween is still one of the staple films in the horror genre. Movies such as "Friday the 13th" and "Nightmare on Elm Street" are clear spinoffs from the boogeyman formula Halloween set in place in the late 70s. The Library of Congress considers the film to be "culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant" and was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry. Michael will live on to scare people for generations to come.
This movie may just be one of the corniest horror films out there because of how much it has been copied by other horror flicks. It's almost expected to see the teenagers who wanna do rebellious things such as smoke cigarettes or have sex to be the first victims of the omnipotent monster in the slasher film. Then it's always the goody-too-shoes girl who ends up outwitting her foe and leaves the lone survivor of the ordeal. While these may seem like over used concepts, it was 1978's "Halloween" that created these cliches that are still being repeated in horror flicks today. It just adds to the enjoyment of this classic movie.
The Soundtrack and Camera Work
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John Carpenter's simple yet eerie score for Halloween evokes feelings of unease that not many films today can match. The catchy piano tune makes itself present every time Myers appears on the screen. It is timeless and instantly recognizable almost 4 decades later. What adds even more to Carpenter's prowess as a film maker is his use of camerawork. Utilizing the score alongside focused shots such as the one above are unconventional but effective. The film has very little gore but through different angles and shots, Carpenter is able to make the audience feel the impact of each grueling murder. "Halloween" succeds where most horror flicks fail today in that it captures and scares its audience by being relentless. Not through randomly placed jump scares that have no effect after the first watch.
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I still remember watching "Halloween" for the first time and looking out my window every 5 minutes to make sure Michael Myers wasn't stalking me. What makes Myer's such a great antagonist is how he embodies the ever present evil in our world. He can't be reasoned with, he kills without remorse, and he's relentless. He is the monster underneath your bed but also the monster that lives in everyone of us. His sheer presence incites a feeling of fear. Carpenter could've never expected what he created by simply cutting out the eyes and spray painting a William Shatner face mask.
It's a tradition for me to see "Halloween" every year when October comes around because it is just a fun movie. It's a hell of a scare while still being entertaining. Today I still laugh at it's corny cliches and slasher motifs but you will not find a better film that really captures the essence of horror and evil. Michael Myers still frightens viewers to this day with his terrifying presence and demonic aura. Halloween is the ultimate horror flick for the holiday of its same name.