Movie Review: Halloween (1978)

Ladies and gentlemen, we’re here. The final review in my Month of Spooks series. I’ve had fun with it, but as you know, all good things must come to an end (for this year at least, wink wink). So let’s go out with a bang by talking about the movie with the perfect title for this occasion.

Ladies and gentlemen… this is “Halloween”!

Fifteen years after he killed his sister and got sent to a mental hospital, Michael Myers manages to escape, returning to the town of Haddonfield to kill once again. So now we have our slasher plot. And I think it’s actually pretty great. While this is kind of the grandfather of slashers, setting up several of the cliches of the genre, but it also does it with a lot of subtlety, relying more on slow tension-building rather than just jumpscaring the audience every five minutes. It is a slasher… but one with nuance and subtlety as it’s primary ingredients, and that’s why the plot holds up so well here.

The characters in this are likable and interesting. First up we have Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, a high school student who just wants to have a chill and enjoyable halloween night. But as we all know, that takes a bit of a left turn when a certain someone comes to town. She’s a nice, fairly normal, and relatively crafty young woman who I liked following, hoping she would make it. And Curtis is really good in the role. Next we have Donald Pleasence (R.I.P) as Sam Loomis, the doctor who tried helping Michael for years, but ended up giving up in more recent years when he saw that Myers was beyond helping. He knows that Myers has to be taken down, but there’s also remorse behind his eyes, as if he’s sad that he failed at helping Michael, making him a compelling character. And Pleasence is great in the role. We also get supporting performances from people like Nancy Kyes, P.J. Soles, Charles Cyphers, Nick Castle, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by John Carpenter, and it’s really good. Heavily based in synth, it creates an atmosphere that just oozes suspense and uneasiness. There are a couple of the more typical horror stings that aren’t great when repeated a couple times, but for the most part the score here still holds up very well. And man, that theme is still exquisite.

As you all know, this movie was written (with the help of Debra Hill) and directed by John Carpenter, and he did a great job. Remember how I mentioned that the story relies more on subtlety than on just blatant horror bullshit? Well, that translates to Carpenter’s direction as well. It’s slow, subtle, and generally helps create an eerie vibe that absolutely creeped me out. Adding to that is the cinematography by Dean Cundey, which not only looks great, but also helps sell the almost uncanny vibe of Michael Myers’ stalking.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 81/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10.

So yeah, “Halloween” is still great, 40 years after its release. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Halloween” is a 9,78/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Halloween” is now completed.

The night HE came to my blog.