By Shelby Fielding (Lubbock, Texas, USA)
Halloween: The Inventive Slasher Film
Halloween is directed by John Carpenter and stars Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Tony Morgan as Michael Myers. This movie tells the bloody story of a boy named Michael Myers who killed his sister when he was a child. He then grows up and escapes a mental facility where he was imprisoned for 15 years to return to Haddonfield, Illinois. We as an audience then watch as Michael develops this fascination for Laurie Strode, a goody two shoe type of girl who begins to feel spooked by this large man in a white mask stalking her. While this is happening Michael’s Psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Loomis, is introduced to the audience and begins to peel back the layers for the audience. Describing Michael as “pure evil” and warns people by telling them things like “Death has come to your little town, sheriff.” This dialogue begins to build tension for the audience and curiosity for the character of Michael Myers which builds on that tension, which turns this 91 minute, cheaply made, Horror movie into a pure classic.
This movie was made for $300,000 and made $47,000,000 in the United States alone. I first watched this movie in the 3rd grade. I had seen other Halloween movies before I saw this one, and I wish I saw this one first. Because in my opinion, this is the best slasher film ever made with only The Nightmare on Elm Street coming close. This movie examines the pure magnification of evil itself and how evil is unkillable along with unimaginably terrifying. It examines how Michael Myers has this evil that can consume or infect a person. It displays how evil and humanity is connected along with the incredible “Halloween” setting captured by John Carpenter. Using images of carving pumpkins and the fall setting along with this small town setting helps influence this relatability for the audience to the fear that is happening on-screen. The movie does an incredible job of explaining its thematic idea and making it into a scary yet entertaining film. The unconventional methods and original plot are what makes this film so timeless. Along with the thematic idea that I already talked about. Because evil is timeless and evil will always be there as long as there is good. I love this movie and its filmmaking especially.
John Carpenter directed the hell out of this movie. He did an incredible job capturing the tension and suspense without using loud music or jump scares. Instead, he uses foggy background shots with the camera focused on the actor, but the audience can see Michael getting back to his feet in the blurry background. There are so many creepy images in the film like the shot with Michael standing on top of the stairs as he stares down at Laurie, or when Laurie is hiding behind the wall in fear and you can see Michael’s mask slowly reveal itself from the darkness. These shots along with the well captured setting of the film make you feel as if you are seeping into this town and this feeling of claustrophobia almost overwhelms you because the town is so small and it makes you feel as if there is little running room from Michael Myers. Obviously, the score of this movie is purely epic, which was also done by John Carpenter even though he has stated that he doesn’t know a note. With the epic score, original narrative, and the thrilling direction we get a terrifying and suspenseful Horror classic.
The performances are where this movie does fall off track a bit. Donald Pleasence provides the best performance of the entire film. He gives an excellent monologue on how he saw Michael as pure evil and how he tried to keep him locked up to keep that evil from reentering the world. Jamie Lee Curtis is okay, but she does lose her emotion at times. As there are certain scenes that I feel that if there wasn’t brilliant direction from John Carpenter that the scene would fall completely flat. She’s not terrible she just loses me in certain scenes where she’s trying to express her fear in the situation. Everyone else is pretty much there for a body count. There are given no character arc other than to display how they’re misbehaving teenagers, and to offer character arc only to Michael Myers so the audience can see how evil he is.
As I said the flaws come from the dialogue and performances from the actors involved in the film. The performances don’t derail the film to a point of unwatchability or to a strong distraction from the main plot. But, they can make certain scenes feel flat at points in time. It is John Carpenter’s awesome direction, cinematography, sound design, and original narrative that help pick the film up from those failed performances.
Final Thoughts & Grade:
This is a yearly watch for me on every Halloween. I think this movie is so timeless because of its thematic idea of evil, and I feel that this film was so influential on every Slasher film and Horror film in general. It does have problems in its performances, yet relies on its excellent direction along with its original narrative to create an instant classic. I’m going to give Halloween an A. What do you guys think? What’s your favorite movie to watch on Halloween? Let me know down in the comments below and as always have a blessed day.