John Carpenter finally appears on the 101 Horror Movies list, and this is definitely one of my fave films from him, the others would be Big Trouble In Little China, The Thing and Escape From New York.
But this film, wonderfully low-budget, intimate and scary works with the concept that less is more.
It’s a fantastic film, with the domineering presence of Michael Myers almost constantly felt throughout. He seems to be always in the background, the peripheries of the frame, haunting, stalking.
You know he’s always there.
And no one is safe.
Unlike the needless, and disappointing remake that felt they had to take a flashlight and explore all the nooks and crannies of what made Myers the way he was, this film leaves all but one incident of Myer’s past in the dark, and that is the murder of his sister, which he committed as a boy.
From there he is remanded to custody and into Doctor Loomis’ (Donald Pleasance) care.
We flash forward 15 years, returning to the scene of the crime Haddonfield, Illinois, where we join young Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), a brainy young high school girl, who’s laughing with her friends and getting ready to babysit little Tommy Doyle (Brian Andrews).
At the same time, Myers (Nick Castle) has escaped from his institution, and has returned to his childhood home, and begins to stalk Laurie and her friends.
Carpenter, who wrote, directed, and scored the film, ensures that Myers, or his stolen car, is almost always somewhere in the frame, seeing them, even when nothing happens, constantly ups the tension of the film, as you know that Laurie and her friends are being lined up for the slaughter.
There are long, lingering shots at the beginning of the film, as Myers moves closer to his targets, watching them, studying them. Then, when night falls, and the body count begins, the cuts are faster, quicker.
I’m the first one to say that I am not a fan of the slasher genre of horror films, however, there are films that transcend those genres, and capture my attention, this and Psycho being the most notable ones.
This is a creepy and engaging horror movie and the best part is, the film stands up. Sure there are a couple questionable moments, especially, how can a big guy, in coveralls, and a rubber mask, lurk around a school yard without being noticed or reported?
As her friends begin to pile up, Laurie is forced to fight for her life, and protect her two wards.
I loved just seeing Myers in the background, watching his prey, there one moment and gone the next, just before his quarry realize someone else is there.
I also loved the moments when we see the movies the kids are watching on the television, and got a huge grin on my face when I saw Forbidden Planet, but more importantly… The Thing From Another World, which of course, Carpenter would remake for a 1982 release.
Halloween (and part II which was also written by Carpenter and Debra Hill), though it spawned a series of sequels and remakes, is the one and only.
What do you think?
What’s your favorite Carpenter film?