Before the diarrhea mess known as Friday the 13th transformed the Slasher genre into a shallow, repetitive, gory travesty there was John Carpenter’s Halloween. This pitch perfect horror classic is as terrifying as Texas Chainsaw Massacre and is far more intriguing than the mindless sequels and the god awful Rob Zombie remake.
We begin with the villain Michael Myers escaping from a mental hospital and returning to his home town. His doctor Sam Loomis goes after him in an effort to stop Michael from killing teenagers just like every other slasher villain. Unlike some other films I could name, Halloween has a plot which the audience can easily follow which is a big difference from the Friday the 13th series which didn’t excel at storytelling. The story concludes with a scary battle between heroine, Laurie Strode and the insane Michael who is determined to cut her throat. While here the extensive and prolonged fight actually works in the later films and the remake it just seems like the ending is being dragged out.
There are almost no effects throughout the entire film. Rather than depending on great dollops of gore like in the stupid Friday the 13th films Halloween manages to be scary while showing barely a trace of blood seen in so many inferior horror films. This is one of the reasons why the film is so scary because it uses suspense and atmosphere to create a lingering sense of dread that no bloodbath could ever create. I really don’t understand how a film which did so much with so little inspired other films to just pile on the gore almost to the point of hilarity. It is a really sad legacy for such a scary film. This makes Halloween a match for most modern horror films which plague the cinema.
The acting is simply fantastic and better than in the later instalments. Donald Pleasance is incredible as Dr Sam Loomis who would return in a few of the sequels, though his performance is those films were not as good. Jamie Lee Curtis is on an equal plain as Laurie Strode, the original heroine of the series. She deserves some special credit for making her first starring role so memorable and her character more believable than some of the “actors” who would turn up in the following sequels. Brian Andrews is very good as Tommy Doyle because of how his dialogue isn’t at all flimsy or wooden. The same can be said for Kyle Richards who portrays Lindsay Wallace the other child actor who is a little less annoying than the kid from the remake. Even if he is silent form beginning to end Nick Castle deserves a mention for making Michael Myers a truly terrifying force of pure evil.
John Carpenter’s Halloween is a terrifying, unrestrained, jolt of horror which is infinitely superior to the long line of blood drenched rip offs and copy cats that followed in its wake. With memorable characters and fine acting this is one of the best of its kind and a true classic that even the most sophisticated of horror films will struggle to match.