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Halloween 1978

Image: Falcon Films

 The Boogeyman roams around on Halloween night with an instinct to kill. He murders his victims with the grace of his bloodied kitchen knife as it swings toward flesh. But is this a boogeyman roaming the streets of Haddonfield, Illinois? Well, Michael Myers is just a sociopath who moves like a ghost. His energy is stiff and chilly as he haunts over his trail of collapsed bodies. And he’s usually off to his next kill before his victimized trophies are discovered. Gone without a trace. This movie’s magic has been embraced by so many horror fans that it’s a dominant force in the film canon. Director John Carpenter’s 1978 film Halloween is the most important horror movie ever made, and its longevity in the film space is as invincible as Michael Myers himself.
Halloween is a masterclass in the slasher genre. It gives Hollywood in-depth storytelling of an iconic movie monster. It gives us unique kills, strong women, and gallons of pig’s blood that flow after a satisfying death of a character we’ve been rooting for. John Carpenter’s vision evolved the monster movie formula into something new and relevant. He pushed the horror boundaries of those horror directors’ past, like Hitchcock or Friedkin, into a different direction that kept the genre free of redundancy.

It was an inexpensive film shot across 20 days. And Carpenter created something special with such a small budget and production window. In the end, audiences were given the most iconic slasher villain in cinema history. 

Michael Myers has a perfect knife swinging technique. He lets his sharp companion do the talking because he doesn’t say a word the entire run time. That calm need to kill is something Jason Vorhees or Freddy Kreuger wish they had in their respective franchises. This film is as fresh as the young blood Ghostface hunts for. 

On Halloween night, Michael looms over Haddonfield. He blends like cellophane when walking right past a candy bowl and through the front door of a random home. His victims catch sight of him, look away in fear, and he is gone. He works with a haunting quickness his victims would only catch when it would be too late. To Michael, these people are just cows in a butcher’s market waiting to be slaughtered. He prepares his meat like a sticky marinade as he waits for the right time to slice.

The main protagonist, Laurie Strode, is hunted for reasons personal to Michael. Only in the heart-stopping 15-minute finale do they ever fully cross each other’s paths. And those final moments are an epic showdown of limited resources. 

Throughout Halloween, the most effective death is the slow murder of Laurie’s best friend, Annie Brackett. 

Her death is important because the script dedicates so much time in giving her witty dialogue to establish a close bond with Laurie. It’s almost as if you know something terrible is going to happen to her! Annie’s final moments were needed to establish Laurie as the film’s “final girl”: the woman who confronts the killer during the movie’s climax.

Carpenter carefully crafts the women in this movie to be full of self-defense while embracing their femininity. Women of horror are put in life or death situations that actually end in success (at least in the films horror fans most resonate with.) These are Hollywood’s “scream queens,” and give the industry better storytelling devices as diversity pushes the medium forward. 

In one of the film’s defining moments, Annie is leaving her home through the garage. She steps into her car and notices the unnatural amount of condensation on the windows, as if someone let the cold in without her permission. The iconic, piercing score answers Annie’s suspicion as Michael jolts up from the back seat and he strangles her to death. Annie’s screams silence once Michael confirms his kill. She honks the horn to signal help, but the garage is closed and she is in Michael’s inescapable grasp.

 His lack of emotion leaves him uncatchable. We get these shocking moments because his sociopathy causes him to kill however he can. As long as he remains escaped from whatever psychological institutions keep him from his passion, nothing will stop him. Michael’s only ally is the eerie silence which gives the film a genre defining-sense of dread.Halloween is a thrilling, fictional experience. It sharpens its knives with reinvented horror tropes and should be praised for the important film that it is.

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