in Horror Movie Reviews

Why I Love John Carpenter’s Halloween

John Carpenter's Halloween

Of all the horror movies I have ever watched in my entire life, I would definitely rate John Carpenter’s 1978 classic Halloween as one of my all time favourites. In fact, I would even go as far as to say that Halloween is the greatest slasher flick of all time.

But there is so much to this movie than just the slasher aspect, so many more things about this masterpiece of cinematic horror that I just love. Here are just a few of them.

1. Atmosphere – The whole movie is just so synonymous with the season of Halloween. The atmosphere of Samhain is all there, from the trick-or-treating kids in their monster costumes to the windswept, leafy streets. Whenever Halloween comes around, I always think of this movie. And, of course, I always slip it into my DVD player as my annual October treat.

2. A Great Protagonist – Every good horror movie is enhanced by a good, interesting hero or heroine. Well, in the case of Halloween, we have the perfect protagonist in Laurie Strode, played so brilliantly by Jamie Lee Curtis. Bookish, and ever wary of the growing threat facing her from out of the dark shadows of Haddonfield, Laurie is the perfect adversary for the masked killer Michael Myers (who also happens to be her brother, an escaped mental patient). You really root for her throughout the whole movie, and share her sheer terror each time she is stalked by Myers. The final confrontation, where she hides in the poky closet amid all those coat hangers through which Michael tries to grab her, is one of the most memorable climaxes in horror movie history.

3. Donald Pleasance as Dr Loomis – Like Jamie Lee Curtis, what an awesome, unforgettable presence Donald Pleasance brought to this movie. He is such a joy to watch, so relentless and fearless in his pursuit of his ex-patient Michael throughout the movie. Only Pleasance could have played that role so well. He made it his own. And who can forget his final lines at the end of the movie, after Michael gets up and walks away into the night, despite having just had a salvo of bullets pumped into him from Loomis’s handgun: The Bogeyman? “I think it was.” Brilliant stuff.

4. John Carpenter’s Masterful Direction – I cannot voice enough superlatives to describe John Carpenter’s brilliant work on this movie. Putting together Halloween way back in 1978, and on a low budget at that, he probably never realised what an utter masterpiece he was creating, and that it would go on to spawn so many sequels. Carpenter employed the use of shadow and light to a most jaw-dropping, terrifying degree, tapping in to his audience’s emotions and fears, as he depicted his unspeaking masked creation lurking in the darkness, a sinister figure reminiscent of the bogeyman of your worst nightmare.

5. The Creepy Music – Wow, that musical score! What can I say? I have never been so utterly captivated, so thrilled, by a movie’s music since Sergio Leone’s score on The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, or Bernard Hermann’s strings on Psycho. I especially love it when it opens the movie, and that glowing pumpkin head appears on screen simultaneously. When you hear and see all this, you feel sure that you are in for a real good horror treat, and how.

6. Michael Myers – Last but certainly by no means least, we must give a grand salute to the star of the movie himself: The Shape. With his white, emotionless mask, his boiler suit and his perturbing tendency to suddenly appear from out of the shadows, Michael Myers is, for me, the ultimate screen bogeyman. He easily surpasses the more far-fetched, less eerie Freddy Kruger as a nocturnal monster, radiating utter terror and ominousness wherever he prowls. The scene where he kills the boyfriend of a girl and steals his glasses, donning them over a white sheet that covers his whole head and standing in the bedroom doorway, poised to strike, is one of the most chilling, memorable moments in slasher movie history.

So there you have it. Just some of the many reasons why I consider Halloween to be one of the greatest horror movies ever made. I am sure many of you fans of this classic will share my sentiments.

Alan Toner