John Carpenter’s Halloween: A Review By Nate Hill

Here it is, kids. The third corner of the slasher triangle that’s essential viewing for any horror fan. John Carpenter made a no budget, streamlined little horror flick back in 1978, one that would start an eight film legacy of mania and legendary prolofic culture in the horror genre. The eternally relentless boogeyman Michael Myers has become an iconic movie monster, and my personal favourite of the slasher stable. From the moment that Carpenter’s nerve jangling, haunting synth score kicks in, framing a half lit jack o lantern as the main credits start, we’re lulled into a hypnotic, ambient atmosphere of sometimes unbearable tension and razor sharp sound design. The film opens as young Michael Myers snaps, grabs a kitchen knife and murders his teenage sister upstairs. Flash to fifteen years later, mute adult Mikey escapes from the sanitarium he’s spent the last decade and a half in, much to the frantic dismay of his bug eyed psychiatrist Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence). Pleasence took the role and ran with it, and is at times even crazier than Michael himself, and just as iconic. Jamie Lee Curtis plays sheltered Laurie Strode, living in Michael’s sleepy hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois and a prime target of the boogeyman. Carpenter wisely saves the chases and violence for the latter third of the film, and choosing to make Michael an almost unseen presence, lurking in shadowy corners of the unassuming suburbia he makes his playground out of, a vaguely threatening gust of unease in the fringes of the character’s awareness. When the chases and kills do come later on, we’re so wound up from the tenuous waiting, watching and wondering that the shock hits us harder at its sheer arrival. It’s that mounting tension and reverence paid to the sickening anticipation of the horror as opposed to the horror itself that makes the film so special, influential and timeless. It’s like a bad dream where something is inevitably, slowly waiting to get you. A horror classic, (hell a classic in itself), the king of slasher flicks and one of the most atmospheric movies ever crafted.

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