October 31st, 2014: Halloween (1978)

Cast and Crew:  John Carpenter (Director, Co-Writer, Score); Debra Hill (Producer, Co-Writer); Moustapha Akkad, Irwin Yablans (Executive Producers); Dean Cundey (Cinematographer); Tommy Lee Wallace (Editor, Production Designer); Charles Cyphers, Kyle Richards, Nancy Stephens, Arthur Malet

What It’s About: Michael Myers (Nick Castle/Tony Moran) escapes from a sanitarium on October 30th.  His doctor, Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) believe he will travel back to his hometown to murder again on Halloween night, fifteen years after his first murder.  Meanwhile, smart, likeable teenaged babysitter Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is seen by Myers when she drops her real estate agent father’s keys off at Myers’ now abandoned house.  Myers begins stalking her and her friends Annie (Nancy Kyes) and Lynda (P.J. Soles) as they prepare for Halloween night.  Will Loomis find Myers, and when he does, can he stop him before he kills again?  Will Laurie realize the truth about what her charge Tommy Doyle (Brian Andrews) calls “The Boogeyman” before it’s too late?

Why Watch it Today?: Tonight is Halloween, since childhood my (and probably every other horror and costume party junkie’s) favorite holiday.  Watching Halloween on Halloween night (or nearby, when that’s not possible) has been my tradition nearly my entire life, though in the early years it was more “see the first hour or so edited for TV in the background while trading candy with my cousins at Grandma’s house”.  It is in fact one of the main reasons I thought a calendar like this is a great idea, for I’ve enjoyed that tradition.

If you’ve seen Halloween before, or know its reputation via the terrible sequels and Rob Zombie’s remake, try this.  Just as your last trick or treaters are trickling in (I like 8 or 9pm) turn off every light in your house.  Let your only light be from a Jack O’Lantern and maybe a candle or two.  Get yourself some popcorn and what’s left of the Halloween candy.  Now, turn on this film.  Don’t think of the terrible sequels or the years of retcons and explanations about Myers’ true nature and forget years of rip-offs where we all learned that every killer is unstoppable, and every killer comes back.  Just imagine this is just about some teenagers being stalked by a holiday obsessed madman who is himself being hunted like a white whale by an obsessed,warning spouting psychiatrist that no one listens to.  That psychiatrist?  He’s very right about Mr. Myers.  I can almost guarantee you a great time.

Other Choices:  The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane; Halloween III; Meet Me In St. Louis; Donnie Darko; It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

7 comments on “October 31st, 2014: Halloween (1978)

  1. […] help but think of Laurie and Annie’s drive out to their respective babysitting jobs in Halloween.  For the first two-thirds of the film, West avoids the mistakes of his previous film, keeping […]

  2. […] of ghost story and slasher film from director John Carpenter, co-writing once again with his Halloween partner Debra […]

  3. […] like this it is hard for them not to be.  Kingsley could play Dr. Loomis in a future remake of Halloween, and the others play their roles perfectly, including Patricia Clarkson (Wendigo), Emily Mortimer […]

  4. […] Thus “Slasherthon“, an annual tradition, was born.  In 2004 we went through every Halloween film (I’d introduced Kimenstein to the original movie two years earlier but he’d never […]

  5. […] I watched Halloween (1978), since I know the Baroness is not a fan and I like to watch it as close to Halloween itself […]

  6. […] the slasher film formula or if he knew about it already (I certainly had already introduced him to Halloween), but he decided he needed to see all the Friday the 13th movies to break the code, and that we […]

  7. […]  Halloween (1978):  Made on a tiny budget ($325,000 in 1978 or about $1.3 million in 2020 dollars), this was John Carpenter’s first major success-in fact, for a time it was the highest grossing  ($47 million in 1978, or $185 million in 2020 dollars) independent film of all time.  As a low-budget film from a relatively inexperienced cast and crew, Halloween is is not without gaffs or limitations (it’s best to never read or forget trivia if you want to keep the magic), and I will accept complaints that it is, intentionally or otherwise, reactionary and a bad thing for horror.  Outside of these issues?  The film is a masterpiece of suspense and building dread. Carpenter takes a simple story and builds it into a fairy tale confrontation between a smart, capable, and good hearted every girl and elemental evil embodied in a neighborhood boogeyman.  It’s a trick that could be pulled exactly once, and the chill the ending delivers is so good that most of the time I pretend the story ended there.  Hard to argue with that as a sign that this is my favorite! […]

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