Thursday, 14 March 2013



The night HE came home…again!

“I met him, fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left. No reason, no conscience, no understanding; even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face and the blackest eyes... the Devil's eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him.  And then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realised what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply...evil!” – Dr Sam Loomis, Halloween

The granddaddy of the Stalk ‘n’ Slash movie, a film that defined a genre, John Carpenter’s Halloween is still a cut above the pretenders that came after it.  Finally back on the big screen in time for, when else, Halloween, it’s as nerve-jangling as it was back in 1978.

In 1963, in the sleepy suburban town of Haddonfield, Illinois, cute little six-year-old Michael Myers takes a kitchen knife and slaughters his teenage sister on Halloween night.  15 years later, Michael escapes from the maximum security psychiatric hospital where he’s been imprisoned and heads back home to Haddonfield for some trick or treating, hotly pursued by Dr Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance, cast against type as the nominal good guy), his psychiatrist, who’s determined to stop him before he kills again.

Meanwhile, teenaged, bookish, good girl Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis in a fantastic breakthrough performance) and her slightly less virginal friends Annie (Nancy Loomis) and Lynda (P.J. Soles) have their own plans for Halloween night.  While Laurie covers both her own and Annie’s babysitting jobs, across the street Annie and Lynda plan to spend some quality time with their boyfriends in an empty, parent-free house.  But when Laurie’s charges claim to have seen “the boogeyman” lurking outside and Annie and Lynda aren’t answering the phone, the suspicious Laurie crosses the street to investigate the darkened house where evil lurks…

Made on an ultra-low budget of just $320,000 and shot in just four weeks, John Carpenter’s Halloween went on to gross $70 million worldwide (that’s the equivalent of $240 million in today’s money kids) and spawn 35 years of imitators, making it one of the most profitable and influential independent movies of all time.  It’s a seminal film, a true cultural landmark, and it also laid the ground rules for the Slasher movie, a genre it pretty much created; the faceless, indestructible killer, the restless camera, the stalking POV shots, the absence or (in the case of the Sheriff) impotence of parental authority, the dangers of immorality (get naked, get laid or get high and you’re gonna get killed) and, of course, the concept of the final girl, the strong, indomitable heroine (usually a virgin who represents purity and innocence) who normally triumphs over evil.  Though it could be argued that in most of these films it’s their sublimated sexual repression that saves the heroines, not their purity.  Seriously folks, in virtually every Slasher movie, at some point the heroine gets hold of the killer’s huge, phallic knife and repeatedly drives it into his guts.  What did you think that was all about?

It’s also one of the scariest damn films ever made.  Screw Rob Zombie and his abortion of a “re-imagining” and screw all the hacks that have ripped it off, even 35 years down the road, in a world awash with CGI monsters and smug super-villains like Jigsaw, Halloween will still put you on the edge of your seat, make you jump out of your skin and scare the crap out of you. The performances are fantastic with Donald Pleasance suitably unhinged as a psychiatrist only marginally less crazy than his murderous patient while in her first screen role, Jamie Lee Curtis perfect as the strong, soft-spoken babysitter turned Amazon (face it geekboys, without this movie there wouldn’t have been a Ripley) and P.J. Soles and Nancy Loomis are solid and natural as her doomed friends.  The script by director Carpenter and producer and long-time collaborator Debra Hill is tight and economical, the cinematography by the now legendary Dean Cundey is lush and mouthwatering, virtually spoiling Steadicam for everyone who came after and the score by Carpenter is still deliciously creepy. 

A supremely well-crafted, sleek, stylish, efficient engine of terror made by a visionary filmmaker at the top of his game (and make no mistake, in the ‘70s and ‘80s, Carpenter was touched by genius) long before Hollywood cut his balls off, Halloween is as damn near perfect as horror movies get.  Go see it this weekend - as the Sheriff tells Laurie: “It's Halloween, everyone's entitled to one good scare.”  

David Watson

Directed by:
Written by:
Produced by:
1 hour 31 minutes
UK Release Date:
Friday 26th October

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