Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween (1978)

Directed by John Carpenter.
1978. Rated R, 91 minutes.
Jamie Lee Curtis
Donald Pleasance
P. J. Soles
Charles Cyphers
Kyle Richards
Brian Andrews
John Michael Graham

As a youngster Michael Myers kills his older sister on Halloween night and is put into a mental institution. Fifteen years later, again on Halloween night, Michael escapes and heads back to his hometown.

This is one of those rare movies that helped create a genre. In this case, that genre is the modern-day slasher flick or more specifically DTMs or dead-teenager-movies. Yes, there were slasher flicks, even DTMs before this but this provided the template for not only a host of sequels but also a slew of imitators that are still being made over 30 years later. As far as the actual movie, it uses some effective tension building methods that maintain a creepy feel to the movie even though not much actually happens over the first half of the film. Most notably these include the now-you-see-him-now-you-don't moments of the killer himself and the use of what I believe is one of the most effective scores in the history of cinema. Of course, things get fun when the bodies start piling up over the latter part of the movie.

The script cuts alot of corners. Its done in part to tighten the movie by keeping the run-time down. It's also done in part to keep from explaining things. For instance, how does this doctor seem to know what Michael Myers is thinking even though we're told he hasn't spoken a word since the night he killed his sister? Because what he sees in Myers' eyes is "pure EVIL", of course. How very scientific of you doc. There are more things in a similar vein so I could see why a remake would want to flesh things out. Unfortunately, Halloween establishes one of the slasher genre's main weaknesses right off the bat: the acting is nothing to write home about. Then scream-queen Jamie Lee Curtis isn't bad, you can see why she went on to bigger and better things. The rest of the cast is functional at best. By functional I mean they're slightly better than sounding like they're reading, except for Donald Pleasance as the doctor who just over-acts. However, all of that is forgivable especially given the same things still occur in horror movies so it doesn't even seem dated. What is laughable though is the way our bad guy fails to kill Jamie Lee Curtis (seeing how she's appeared in a few of the sequels and the movie is over 30 years old I don't think I'm spoiling anything). Honestly, more than once Myers has Jamie Lee at point blank range without her even aware of him, yet he misses her with a knife that has a blade on it the size of my forearm.

If you're a fan of horror movies, see this one if you haven't already. It's a classic within the genre and deserves to be seen. Definitely take a look if you plan on seeing the remake. I always recommend seeing the original, preferably before the remake. If you've already seen the remake but not the original, go back and see what they working with. If you're not a horror fan then skip it. The truth is it's a great slasher flick, among the best ever but not really a great movie in the grand scheme of things. There is a big difference between the two.

No comments:

Post a Comment