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Horror movie directed by John Carpenter

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The blackest eyes; blackest night.

  • Nov 6, 2011
**** out of ****

I like taking long walks in the night; preferably before winter is upon us. It's just a personal past-time; I enjoy the cold air, the ominous winds, and of course, the lights that illuminate the front porch of every house. So, given that I take so many nighttime strolls, it should come to no surprise that I find John Carpenter's "Halloween" to be one of the scariest, most impacting horror films ever made; an absolutely outstanding example of its genre, with an understanding of atmosphere and fear that shall never die. I like a lot about it, and I've seen it plenty of times, but it's only now that I realize one thing that I really admire, among other things. In the film, like my walks, there are many sights to be seen; the lighten fronts of the homes, the lamps that keep the streets dimly lit, and the darkness itself. The film has a villain that travels on wheels by day; and within the shadows by night. As a "walker", this scares me, it really does. This is a suspenseful film that delves deep into the kind of paranoia that makes us human. When I first saw it, I began to do over-my-shoulder checks by the minute, hoping that the villainous force that haunts "Halloween", and the many sequels that followed, would not have found in me his next victim.

The film opens one night, on that titular holiday. The year is 1963, love and anticipation are in the air, and the night is still young. We see through the eyes of a stalker; young Michael Myers, a child that lives in a suburban house...within a suburban neighborhood. It is implied that his long, fun night of trick-or-treating has finally come to an end, although he does not enter his home upon returning, not just yet. First, he looks in the window and sees his older sister fooling around with her boyfriend while the Myers family parents are out somewhere, presumably for a special occasion. After spying on the two lovers for a little while, Myers lets himself in and follows them upstairs. He allows the boyfriend to leave, but then slowly makes his way up to his sister's room, eventually stabbing her to death with a kitchen knife. He then walks outside, emotionless, holding his weapon in hand, to be discovered by his parents, who return home to a shock.

The year is now 1978. Michael had been sent to a medical institution since that tragic event, and was under the treatment and care of psychiatrist Samuel Loomis (Donald Pleasance), who tried to reach his patient for several difficult years, until finally giving up and taking on a new task; to keep the devil within the young boy locked up for good. He saw evil in Michael; a child who stared at walls, appeared to always be in his own little world, and in the current year presented, had just escaped from the facility. Loomis is on his trail; taking a nurse along with him to retrieve his patient. However, Michael hides in the darkness, as he is known to, and makes his move when the two are most vulnerable. In an instant, he has stolen Loomis' car, and is heading back home, to the town of Haddonfield (Illinois), for one last night of destruction.

Enter Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, in her debut role); a smart bookworm of a High Schooler. This might seem strange, given how her circle of friends consists of the usual sex-craved party animals and beer-lovers; sinners who love sinning for the sake of it alone. The worst thing that Laurie does in the film is smoke a joint; and according to horror movie or slasher film rules, that's not enough to make you the next candidate for a stabbing. Laurie is a sympathetic protagonist; she isn't so-much interested in romance. She would rather be a good student, a good daughter, a good friend; hell, as long as she's a good SOMETHING, then she's happy to be existent.

Unless you've seen the countless number of sequels that followed this fine horror classic, you won't know what purpose Laurie serves in Michael's quest for vengeance. We don't know what drives him to do the things that he does, other than the fact that he's sociopathic; and thus, he lives to kill without speaking or showing emotion. I suppose Michael cannot show emotion because he dons the infamous white "flesh mask" throughout the film. At one moment, he is unmasked, although the revelation is brilliantly staged; it doesn't matter what he really looks like. His physical appearance is not relevant; what has plagued Haddonfield since his first murder is what makes him Michael Myers. He is a hell of a villain, and this is a hell of a movie.

Loomis and Michael play each-other's opposite, the latter representing evil while the former stands for all that is genuinely, well, humane. This relationship works because as the film progresses, we learn just how close Loomis got to understanding Michael, as his psychologist, and how far he'd like to distance himself from such a disturbing connection if he were given the chance. But Loomis is an intelligent man; and he understands that Michael cannot be shaken from one's memory just like that. He is the only one who can come to Laurie's aid when the great boogeyman comes for her, the kids she's babysitting, and of course, her sinner friends.

Oh, there are many excellent, haunting scenes and shots here. One of my personal favorites is the sequence in which the young kid, Tommy, whom Laurie is babysitting, looks out the window of the house he is in, and who else does he see but Michael? The tall, jump-suit-wearing man-devil is carrying the corpse of a teenager into a house; presumably from one to another. I mentioned the "walking" bit earlier, and it certainly applies here; I'll never look at someone's front porch the same way ever again. And you know what; I'm fine with that. Great horror films aren't meant to disgust, repulse, or make us want to reach for a barf-bag; they are intended to SCARE us; and this one most definitely does. By shying away from graphic violence and focusing more on a killer that can pop up any place, at any time; Carpenter (who directed, wrote, and even scored the film) has made a movie that is the stuff nightmares are made of. It will forever haunt mine; if I had nightmares. Thank goodness I don't. But as for Laurie...she might not be quite as fortunate once this night is over. Let's just say that and resume life as it was.

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More Halloween (1978 movie) reviews
review by . April 09, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
 It is Halloween night in Illinois in 1963. Young six year old Michael Myers brutally stabbed his sister to death for a reason unknown to most. His parents come home only to find him standing completely zoned out with a large, bloody knife in his hands. Michael is then put in a mental hospital where he will spend the next fifteen years of his life, until on October 30th 1978 Michael breaks free and steals his Doctor's car. Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) knows that Michael is looking …
Quick Tip by . September 24, 2010
Picking up from Black Christmas, Halloween is the essential American slasher film and one of the most important films in John Carpenter's tenure as a filmmaker.
review by . May 11, 2009
Halloween (1978) is John Carpenter's homage to Dario Argento and Mario Bava. A horror/thriller uses mood, music and lighting instead of relying on buckets of red paint and cheap scares. This movie also was the start of a movie franchise , two rebooted films and it has spawned scores of knock-offs and rip-offs. Halloween is also responsible for the "teenage girl" in peril films. It's also responsible for the called "slasher" films that become the staple of 80's horror flicks and a tired cliche in …
review by . March 04, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
The best scary movies are the ones that remember this rule: the less you have to show, the better because the human mind can imagine things far worse than anything on the screen. John Carpenter used to know this and that's the reason that HALLOWEEN is such a success and so much better than the sequels that followed. By then Carpenter was rolling in the dough and forgot his roots. I'm not completely sure why but many first time directors make these awesome pictures on shoe-string budgets then in …
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Ryan J. Marshall ()
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie


Halloweenis as pure and undiluted as its title. In the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois, a teenage baby sitter tries to survive a Halloween night of relentless terror, during which a knife-wielding maniac goes after the town's hormonally charged youths. Director John Carpenter takes this simple situation and orchestrates a superbly mounted symphony of horrors. It's a movie much scarier for its dark spaces and ominous camera movements than for its explicit bloodletting (which is actually minimal). Composed by Carpenter himself, the movie's freaky music sets the tone; and his script (cowritten with Debra Hill) is laced with references to other horror pictures, especiallyPsycho. The baby sitter is played by Jamie Lee Curtis, the real-life daughter ofPsychovictim Janet Leigh; and the obsessed policeman played by Donald Pleasence is named Sam Loomis, after John Gavin's character inPsycho. In the end, though,Halloweenstands on its own as an uncannily frightening experience--it's one of those movies that had audiences literally jumping out of their seats and shouting at the screen. ("No! Don't drop that knife!") Produced on a low budget, the picture turned a monster profit, and spawned many sequels, none of which approached the 1978 original. Curtis returned for two more installments: 1981's dismalHalloween II, which picked up the story the day after the unfortunate events, and 1998's occasionally grippingHalloween H20, which proved the ...
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Director: John Carpenter
Genre: Horror
Release Date: October 25, 1978
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: John Carpenter
Runtime: 1hr 33min
Studio: Compass International Pictures
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"Trick or Treat."
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