Creepy Classics: Halloween (1978)
With Halloween being a mere 26 days away, it’s time to launch into a blog series that covers some classic horror/thriller films. Of course, there’s no better place to start than the movie named after the holiday itself. Halloween was written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill with Carpenter also directing. Released in 1978, the film follows a serial killer named Michael Myers who targets several teenagers on Halloween night. The film stars Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode and Donald Pleasance as Dr. Sam Loomis. The supporting cast also includes Nick Castle, P.J. Soles, Nancy Kyes, Charles Cyphers, and Brian Andrews. Halloween went on to gross $70 million worldwide, making it one of the most profitable independent films at that time.
So, what makes Halloween such an effective and beloved horror film?
1) One Creepy Villain
The best place to start when deciphering what makes Halloween such a good horror film is its villain, Michael Myers. From the opening sequence, we are introduced to a character that is unsettling, a young boy who has just murdered his older sister. We never hear him speak, and that trend continues into his adulthood sequences. That characteristic alone is enough to put anyone on edge, but the other physical characteristics also add to the menacing nature of Michael Myers. His stillness, intentional movements, and quiet nature add to the uncertainty and unsettling nature of this character.
2) That Score
Perhaps just as creepy as Michael himself is the score that Carpenter crafted for this iconic character. Anytime he watches someone or appears on screen, that menacing band of notes follows closely behind. The combination of notes and the volume of each one adds to the tension of the film, and honestly, it helps make this film so iconic.
3) First-Person Shots
One of the aspects of Halloween that has been lauded through the years is the first-person perspective that is often adopted. This approach is implemented immediately during the opening sequence; it creepily starts with the focus on the jack-o-lantern outside and later on shifts to the interior of the house. It hides the initial fact that this perspective is from a six-year-old Michael, and its use in every sequence afterward is just as effective. This first-person perspective heightens the tension and allows the audience to dread Michael’s every movement. In this way, the audience experiences not just his attack on his victims but also his focus, breathing, and footsteps.
4) A Teenage Hero
What good is a fantastic villain without a hero to foil him or her? Laurie Strode is an unlikely choice as the pure, good-hearted teenager who finds herself babysitting on Halloween night. However, she still manages to save the kids’ lives at the end of the day, which has to count for something. She is scared and unsettled in facing Michael and his victims, but she immediately jumps into action. If Michael were a normal villain, she would have defeated him the moment he made it into Tommy Doyle’s house. Despite that, though, she’s a strong heroine who fights back and continues to be resourceful. Dr. Loomis might take the final shots at Michael in the end, but Laurie is defending herself fairly well until that point.
So, have you ever watched John Carpenter’s Halloween? What do you think makes it such a classic horror film? Comment and let us know!
Stay tuned next week as we continue onto another creepy classic on our countdown to Halloween!
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.