(Review originally written at 1 November 2006)

What can be more traditional movie-wise, then watching "Halloween" on Halloween eve?

I'm probably the only horror fan on this planet who hadn't seen "Halloween" yet before (the same goes for "Friday the 13th" of which I've only seen the last halve hour or so. So perhaps I don't even have the right calling myself a horror-fan.). By todays standards the movie is definitely not scary enough and most certainly not gory enough. But you need to watch this movie in 1978 perspective. The movie-making is unique and mostly defined the slasher horror-movie genre. It's influence and bar raising movie techniques and new set standards are still notable in movies this present day.

The movie really takes its time to build up the tension. No killings (with the exception of the first scene) occur until we're more than halve way through the movie. Before that the mood is set and a creepy atmosphere is created. You know that something evil/bad is about to happen but you never know when and how this is going to occur. So the tension is really well build up, which does still makes this one of the scariest horror movies ever made, despite the lack of blood, gore and actual real scare moments. John Carpenter has always been a master with building up a maximum atmosphere with minimum resources. This movie was made on a shoestring budget and this movie proofs that with true creativity and the right talent involved you can still make a classic and certainly influential movie, despite of the budget.

This is not the first slasher movie ever created but yet it's the most influential and perhaps also best known one. I think this is due to a couple of reasons. One is most definitely the earlier mentioned brilliantly build up tension and atmosphere of the movie. Another reason is the approach of the story. We often see things from Michael Myers point-of-view, sometimes we even literately look at things through his eyes. This is a approach that works creepy and mysterious. We know that he can strike anytime but yet he does nothing but observing his future victims. It provides tension created from a different original viewpoint, which perhaps works even better and scarier than telling a story from the main person's (in this case the Jamie Lee Curtis role) point of view. Also the character of Michael Myers is a reason why this movie is such a classic. He never says a word and his emotions are blank (also due to his mask of course, that we by the way rarely get to see in this movie). The movie doesn't try to explain his motivations which makes the movie all the more mysterious and creepy. It makes sure that you never know what to expect next from the killer. It makes Micheal Myers truly a classic horror character.

The movie is definitely helped by it's techniques and wonderful directing. The camera positions are all highly effective and help to create the right atmosphere and to build up the tension in some of the sequences. Also the classic musical score from John Carpenter himself, works highly effective.

"Friday the 13th" had Kevin Bacon, "A Nightmare on Elm Street" had Johnny Depp and "Halloween" has Jamie Lee Curtis as a star to be. Unlike the previous mentioned actors, Curtis never really got rid of her image as the scream queen and it doesn't seem she minds. Who can blame her, this is the role that made her famous and got her bigger and much more interesting roles. She is a great main character in this movie who is likable and recognizable as well. She isn't anything special, not the prettiest girl in school, not the bravest, borderline dorky. Point is, she is no heroic superhero character but a realistic and recognizable person instead. It makes it easier to identify yourself with and also the situations she gets in to. This in a way also directly adds to the tension of the movie. The still very young Curtis, in one of her first roles, is perfect in her role. Donald Pleasence is also present in the movie, which certainly adds something to the atmosphere and professionalism of the movie.

The movie might come across as outdated and cliché filled to some but please keep in mind that this is the movie that started it all. This is the movie that raised the bar and set the standards for all the slasher movies and perhaps even also horror movies in general.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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