Halloween (1978) - 9/10
I’ve never watched Halloween before. It’s such a pop culture behemoth though, I feel like I have. Right from that opening piano line in John Carpenter’s score. It gives an instant feeling that you’re in good hands. So it’s 1963. Halloween (obviously) in Illinois. That detail isn’t important, but being in small town America is. It’s that sleepy, all is well, nothing bad ever happens here tone… and the shattering of it that’s important. There’s no waiting around as young Micheal Myers dons a mask, grabs a knife and butchers his older sister. Honestly it’s pretty tame scene considering, but then he is just a kid. Fast forward to 1978. Donald Pleasence as Loomis buggers up a visit to grown up Myers at the hospital he’s locked up at and only succeeds in providing a getaway car. He’s not happy, he knows Myers wants to kill again and he’s not wrong. Enter Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) as the shy bookish babysitter he sets his eye on. She lives in his old neighbourhood, where Myers has returned to stalk her, wandering around the streets in broad daylight in his soulless mask and boiler-suit. These shots are perfect. Classics. Beautiful and clearly set the bar for horror films for the next five decades. Aside Pleasence (who really doesn’t feature all that much) and Curtis, the acting is pretty ropey and there’s some needless nudity which I guess is explained by the era. It doesn’t matter though. This is all about building tension. Myers standing stock still behind bushes and next to clotheslines. Freaking Laurie out and making her more and more paranoid as the evening draws in. The music and camera are characters of their own. The whole thing cut together deftly without a single ounce of fat. Before we know it, it’s Halloween night and we’re all in for some classic jump scare slasher mayhem. Like I said, I don’t count myself as a horror fan which is why I’ve not watched this before. This though is a wonderfully simple thriller, perfectly constructed, lots of fun, with a genuinely hair raising evil protagonist. I’m not in a hurry to watch the myriad of sequels that followed, but I can see why the franchise has done so well. This alone though is the near perfect horror film.