Plot- Fifteen years before the main plot a six year old boy on Halloween grabs a butchers knife and brutally stabs his older sister to death. He is then sent to a mental asylum where he remains for fifteen years when he breaks out before stealing a William Shatner mask painted white and the overalls from a mechanic who he murders and sets off for his old home in Haddonfield, Illinois. The now grown up child, called Michael Myers...
|Not that one|
|Donald Pleasence gives an excellent performance in the film|
|The killer Michael Myers|
Setting- Although filmed in California Halloween is set in the typical middle class American suburbia. This makes the film strangely more terrifying with it being in a familiar setting as before most horror films weren't in a relate-able place. The Universal and Hammer films were set in the Victorian era, Texas Chainsaw Massacre was in the Texan prairie away from people, video nasties like Last House on the Left were in houses away from towns as well as Night of the Living Dead being in a farmhouse. Films which could be seen in a normal setting like The Omen, Rosemary's Baby, Black Xmas and The Exorcist were in settings where you wouldn't find a family. Halloween brought it into suburbia and what could be more terrifying than a monster lose where your children live. In many respects it goes back to the B-Movies of the 1950s, which Carpenter loved, so it adds fear thinking that the killer seems to be at your door. Subsequent horror films began to be centered around suburbia such as Nightmare on Elm Street or areas which are associated with families like Summer camps with Friday the 13th.
Cinematography- Despite the low budget the cinematography is superb. The lack of a budget allowed a more guerrilla style of filming which seems more grittier and more scarier for the audience. With the produces unable to afford more cameramen Hill and Carpenter had an increased role in filming so they managed to use the camera to create fear. One such example is the opening where they literally put a mask on the camera and follows Myers through his eyes as he commits his first murder which puts the audience in the killer's view and stops them from shying away. My particularly favorite view though is at the end when Laurie Strode thinks that Myers is dead and the background is blurred. By the blurred background moves as Myers sits up and looks at her. As the camera is still focused on Laurie it makes you scared as it seems that it is in the corner of your eye.
|This was actually named one of the scariest scenes in cinema history|
Trivia- Halloween is inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and Jamie Lee Curtis is the daughter of Janet Leigh, the infamous victim in the shower scene of the film. Dr Loomis is even named after a character in Psycho. Another fun fact is that Myers is played by four people: six year old Myers is played by Will Sandin, masked Myers by Nick Castle, unmasked Myers by Tony Moran, (Castle looked to friendly to play an unmasked monster), and co-writer Debra Hill was the hands of Myers in the opening because they didn't want a child to hold even a fake knife. Critics have analysed Halloween as criticizing youth immorality with the promiscuous characters or the ones who drink and smoke being killed while Laurie Strode who remains innocent survives but this was unintentional and Carpenter has dismissed it, (makes sense as you wouldn't smoke or drink when babysitting). I could go on forever with trivia but I'll just mention one more. John Carpenter was a massive B-Movie fan and one of his favorite films was The Thing which the kids watch in the film. Carpenter would later go on to make the remake of The Thing a few years later.
Verdict- With Halloween inspiring successive horror films as well as showing inventive cinematography and acting from Pleasence and Curtis but with a plot hole and mixed acting from the rest of the cast I'm awarding Halloween 9.2/10.
Thanks for reading and please comment on whether you agree or not and for any suggestions.