Saturday, January 22, 2011

John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) Entered As Part Of The Horror Canon

So, this is the third inductee into The Horror Canon. Was there any doubt that it would end up here? I hope not! It totally deserves it's place among the great horror films of the 20th century. In my opinion, it just gets better with age.

Halloween is one of those films that everyone knows about. Even those who are not into horror films will recognize the main theme, or the Myers mask. John Carpenter's third directorial outing was made relatively cheaply (estimated at $320,000), but I'll be damned if every penny wasn't put to perfect good use!

Donald Pleasence stars as Dr. Sam Loomis, in a wonderfully over-the-top performance. Jaime Lee Curtis plays virginal babysitter Laurie Strode. Both actors are perfectly cast. I can't think of anyone who could best these actors here.

I won't bore you with the storyline, as it's pretty well known these days. But I will hit some of the highlights of the film, the parts that make it so special.

It's almost impossible to get the full impact of this opening scene nowadays: In the viewer's mind the stalker outside the house becomes a burglar entering the house, then becomes someone the victim is familiar with, then becomes a murderer, and ultimately becomes...

...the 6 year old Michael Myers that horror fans will never forget! That's pretty shocking stuff when no one was expecting it. It's still amazingly watchable after all these years.

After 15 years in an asylum, Michael escapes and plans to return home to continue killing this Halloween Night, 1978.

Michael continues the pattern he started in the opening of the film. He stalks....

He kills...

To finish his killing duties, as they may be, he ends with Laurie. Michael chases her...

...and gets a knitting needle in his neck for his efforts.

Michael's not a quitter, so he chases Laurie some more...

...but this time gets a wire hanger in the eye...

...AND a knife in the chest!

Laurie is certain she has vanquished The Boogeyman.

Michael decides to give it one more shot. He chases Laurie...

...but this time he gets Loomis! And it's the final showdown!

Loomis shoots Michael right out of the house and off the balcony.

Loomis sees Michael lying on the ground, and turns to console Laurie.

When Loomis turns back to Michael's body, it's gone.

The Aftermath...

Now, having made light of the final showdown between Michael Myers and Laurie Strode, I don't want to belittle the film. It's still and extremely effective horror film. The stalking scenes are perfection throughout the film. The end of the film is as tense a film as you are likely to see. The film looks dated by today's standards, what with the fashions and vehicles, but with the cinematography, direction, and level of acting in this film, you will not have a chance to let that bother you. This is film perfection, nevermind horror film perfection.

And with that I give you John Carpenter's Halloween, officially canonized in the world of horror cinema.

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