HALLOWEEN (US poster art

5 stars

"The night HE came home."

directed by: John Carpenter
starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, P.J. Soles, Nancy Loomis, Charles Cyphers, Kyle Richards, Brian Andrews, John Michael Graham, Nancy Stevens, Arthur Malet, Mickey Yablans, Brent La Page, Adam Hollander, Robert Phalen

(back of video blurb):


       John Carpenter had already made cult favourites "Dark Star" and "Assault on Precinct 13" before Halloween took the World by storm and went on to become the most successful independent motion picture of all time.

       On "Trick or Treat" night, Michael Myers escapes from the Illinois State Mental Institution in which he has been forcibly detained for the past 15 years, for the brutal murder of his sister.

       He returns to Haddonfield to relive his crime, and what follows becomes a reign of terror, stalking the townsfolk, including a notable performance by Jamie Lee Curtis.

       In the process Michael Myers, an assassin so mysterious and dehumanised, starts taking on supernatural attributes.

       Can Doctor Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) manage to terminate the unstoppable Boogey Man..."

choice dialogue:

"...the blackest eyes ...the Devil's eyes."

Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) describes his murderous, missing patient

Slash with panache?:

        What can be said about HALLOWEEN? ... Well, lots actually. But what can be said about HALLOWEEN that hasn't been said countless time before? ... Hmmm, not a great deal. Carpenter's HALLOWEEN is one of the most written about films that there is- on the Internet and everywhere else for that matter. There must be more sites dedicated to it than to any other single movie. Even though I would argue that it certainly wasn't the first slasher movie, it is, after-all, the flick that was the catalyst (albeit unintentionally) for the tidal wave of teenage blood which washed over the screens from 1978 to 1984. So, what exactly is there left to say? Any more wittering on the subject might be seen as redundant- but as I've never been one to keep my mouth shut I can't resist giving the film the treatment. The time has come to bite the bullet and tackle the bloody thing- it's one film that I've been terrified of reviewing, terrified that I couldn't do it justice. Yep, it's time to take the slasher Holy cow by the horns (?!) and take a good long look into its eyes (the blackest eyes)...

       Well, getting straight to the heart of the matter I've got to come clean and confess this- HALLOWEEN is my all time favourite horror movie- heck, forget the horror bit, HALLOWEEN is my all time favourite movie period. Actually, if truth be told, it holds that position with another- Dario Argento's SUSPIRIA, but that is a whole other matter ... Now, whilst I'm talking about my personal opinion of my favourite all-time movie there's a couple of other things I have to say- one is the surprising fact that, through accident and not design, I saw Rick Rosenthal's 1981 sequel before I saw the original. That was way back in 1983 or so, on video round a friend's house. The horror bug had always been there (as a young kid I'd always loved scary things), but seeing theThe Myers Place- just before it became infamous... 'shape' for the first time- the slow, relentless and deliciously terrifying presence that was Michael Myers- well, that got me well and truly hooked. From that moment on I hankered after seeing what actually had happened before "More Of The Night He Came Home"- why this lunatic doctor was pursuing Myers as relentlessly as Myers pursued Laurie Strode. And see I guess I did- although, curiously, I have less of a recollection of seeing the original for the first time than I did the sequel, but I do remember thinking that, as far as scary movies go, that it was perhaps the most frightening film I had ever seen (and perhaps still is). ... Even now, some sixteen years since I first saw HALLOWEEN, I still love every God damn minute of it and I can't stop my heart near beating out of my chest during the last fifteen minutes- despite the fact that I practically know the dialogue off by heart. It's something which is a testament to John Carpenter, that a film that he designed to be purely an exploitation movie, one which he expected to play for one week at drive-ins and then be forgotten, is so fondly remembered by fans of the genre and continues to exert its spell of suspense and terror over its audience as well as it did when it first hit the screens back in 1978.

       The plot. Well, the plot doesn't really matter. HALLOWEEN is one of the few films where lack of plot isn't a hindrance; in-fact it's the complete opposite- it's one of its strengths. Carpenter's film is a lean mean shock machine that soars precisely because he jettisoned needless exposition. What's left is the very bare bones of aJudith Myers' assassin is revealed! story. A six year old boy stabs his sister to death and, fifteen years later, on the anniversary of her murder- Halloween, he escapes and returns to his home town to carry on an apparently motiveless killing spree. That's it. ...

       The first 10 minutes are exemplary, where we see through little Mikey Myers' point-of-view (actually producer Debra Hill), as he first stares at the front of the house, then prowls the side of it- stopping to watch his sister and her boyfriend leave the sofa and go upstairs for a brief session of hanky-panky. We watch as he takes a butcher's knife from the kitchen drawer and, after the boyfriend has left, creep up to his sister's room and, after hiding his features behind a clown mask, stab her to death. Then, returning downstairs, out through the front door, stopping outside the house just as his parents return home. They pull his mask off- revealing the blankest of faces (like a catatonic cherub), still clutching the bloody knife. Their only words to him an incredulous, "Michael?" ... Now, this sequence alone is incredible- not unique (something we'll come to later), but it never fails to impress (even with the knowledge that is not all one take, as it originally looks), and sets the scene beautifully for the night of horror that lies in Haddonfield's future...

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