Day #207: Halloween (1978)

Synopsis:

[From IMDb:] On Halloween night of 1963, 6-year old Michael Myers stabbed his sister to death. After sitting in a mental hospital for 15 years, Myers escapes and returns to Haddonfield to kill.

My take:

For me, Halloween is all about the soundtrack. It’s just so emphatic in its signalling of something being wrong, dangerous and off-kilter, that it overrides anything else happening on the screen. And, not to belabour the “horror classics vs. modern horror” issue (because: ugghhh), but it shows a level of attention to building up a genuine sense of suspense that is often missing from contemporary films. Much to our collective loss.

It’s interesting to see how this version of Michael Myers differs from what’s to come in later iterations, where he’s more of a myth than a man. I mean, sure, there’s a lot of exposition spent building him up into a force of evil, and an inevitability of fate – a point reinforced by the possible visions that Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) has – but the way that he’s shown actively stalking Laurie and her friends; the way that he moves with greater speed (and less certainty?); and even the fact that he’s often doing something as mundane as driving (an act which the movie cheekily acknowledges he shouldn’t know how to do), makes him feel so much more, well…human.

It’s almost like he has to go through his first “death” before he can shake off those final traits of his humanity in order to truly personify the punishment due to those who stray from the path of chastity.

Or they later realised that it would be easier to make more movies about an unstoppable killer. Y’know, whichever.

Of course, it would be impolite to write about Halloween without making reference to Donald Pleasance, whose portrayal of Dr. Sam Loomis has to be almost as iconic as Michael Myers himself. He somehow manages to be completely over the top, while maintaining his credibility within the context of the movie. Riding that fine line can’t have been easy; and I suspect many others would have failed in his place.

Now, because I feel like I’ve been much too positive in this post, I do feel that it’s necessary to point out one major misstep in the original Halloween movie:

Yeah.

Yeah.

I bet you thought I was going to comment on the fact that they showed his face, but I think we can all agree that this is much worse. Now, let’s never speak of this again.

* It’s not always clear if he’s actually there or if he’s just a manifestation of her growing paranoia/sense of unease

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