Halloween (1978) Movie Review

This is it folks, your wait is FINALLY over. We’ve come a long way to the top if you wanna rock n’roll, but we’ve all struggled on and have made it to this final film. Just prior to this, I’ve also listed my top 10 films that just couldn’t make the cut. Two of them, Dawn of the Dead and Hellraiser were actually both in my original countdown when I wrote this for my school’s magazine. But from my time of writing that paper to current, I’d become bearing witness to two other horror films unlike any other and needed to have the world opened up to them, (I also felt it wasn’t fair to have two of Romero’s films on the countdown) So I ended up putting Dead Alive and Re-Animator in their places. I also unfortunately felt that Hellraiser (as good of a horror film that it was) wasn’t as quintessential and important in the movement in horror as I’ve felt the other two were. So aside from that other posting of info, let’s get to business shall we?

Things to look out for:

A gripping original score by director/composer John Carpenter with his digital creepy synthesizer beat. From this point on a traditional theme in all of Carpenter’s film that go with all of his films like Big Trouble in Little China, Christine, Assault on Precinct 13 and many others
Wire hanger Fu
Knitting Needle Fu
Bleeding eyes from the Myers mask
William Shatner is frightening
Dont’ hide in the closet
Inescapable death
Butter stains your clothes
Michael Myers enjoys killing dogs
Don’t laugh at Michael in a cheesy blanket costume
Slasher POV in the clown mask
Omininous echoing of breathing in the Myer’s mask
For God’s sake, look behind you when he pops [email protected]
Don’t say: “I’ll be right back”
Don’t have sex unless your married
Don’t smoke pot and drive around town when your dad is the Sheriff
Listen to Dr. Loomis when he warns you
Your dead friends and loved ones popping out and dropping all around you
Take notice when someone just randomly steals a William Shatner mask from your local costume shop.

Well, here I promise you the true gritty details: I give you the facts, list the breast counts and how much buckets of blood are gonna come spurting on out at ya. As told in Joe Bob Briggs fashion, I get right to business (after listing a lot of useless tidbits of information) but I want you, the little people, to really get the gist of these films the way they were intended. So for god’s sake: Join up with Netflix, cause every lil rinky dinky Blockbuster video has capitalized and smothered out the lil mom and pop video rental stores to ever carry any of this stuff ever again. Some of them are rare gems, and some are commercialized. And some yet have so many cuts, versions and even remakes – you’ll never really know which ones to get. SO my suggestion to you guys is either be lucky enough to bump into these films on your digital cabel/satelite provider – or just go out and buy these films. Some of them I bought just on a whim or from info I’ve read from the great sites like www.imdb.com or www.houseofhorrors.com I put out the money for them and never live to regret it.

If you just happen to stumble upon my countdown, you can either read my previous listings OR just read the following messages of the recent reviews that you have missed: 10)A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: The Dream Warriors 9)Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives 8)Return of the Living Dead 7)Dead Alive (aka Brain Dead) 6)Re-Animator 5)Demons (aka Demoni) 4)Evil Dead 3) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (original) 2)Night of the Living Dead (1968) and now for the final addition to my countdown…..

1)Halloween

1978, Directed and written by John Carpenter, also written by Debra Hill

HALLOWEEEN you say, Bo? How could Halloween be better than Night of the Living Dead. Well in all honestly, looking at them two different film wise, Night is the superior in style and landmarking achievement – but thinking about the time of the year “Halloween” there is nothing better than to set the mood than John Carpenter’s landmarkish “slasher bith giving film” than Halloween. It’ sgot pumpkins, a curse, dressing up, nudity, teenagers getting cut up, Jamie Lee running around with no bra on, Donald Pleasance acting crazy – the whole bunch. If my countdown would take place any otoher time of the year, I’m sure the numbers would be switched at this instant. But, taking in all consideration that the actual holiday of Halloween is but a mere few days away, there’s nothing more enjoyable than the slasher Myers chasing Jamie Lee and Dr. Loomis chasing Myers.

Most people would like to consider this film as the beginning of the whole slasher/body count film genre. Others like to consider that Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho would actually be the first slasher film, and other’s even consider quite a few of Mario Bava‘s films such as Blood and Black Lace as being the first kinda body count films. But I for one like to see that John Carpenter took both his love of Psycho (from using the Sam Loomis character to how Myers swings a knife and incorporating the Italian style of horror of the gloved killer {such as in Dario Argento’s earlier Giallo films}) and made a mixture of the two that became the slasher genre.

Not too many people realize that John Carpenter’s masterpiece was the start of it all that moved us into the slasher/body count genre of the 80’s. But he set the stage that Cunningham and crew used over and over again formulaic-ally and systematically time and time again with the Friday the 13th series. Which I am a far bigger Jason fan over a Myers fan, but we gotta give credit where credit is due. With the development of Friday the 13th then came the idea if you had a couple of teenagers, a camera and some woods – you could make a horror film. Then came more supernatural twists to the slasher genre in the years to come with films like Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser and Chucky. But, if not for the daring escapades that John Carpenter set forth with this film – we’d have nothing of the likes. I feel if not for Halloween, we’d still be seeing films concerned about demonic possession like The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby or The Exorcist because they were the biggest sellers of the later 70’s. The original golden age monsters that Universal provide us we’re dying out with all of the remakes by Hammer Horror, society needed newer – bigger and more frightening boogeymen for a more modern day and age.

With the coming of Myers, aside from Norman Bates in Psycho, we now not only are frightened of the killer, but you’ll find people rooting on for the bad guy. Ever go to a slasher film in the theaters, more people are happy to see their serial killer hero slashing up their victims and giggling when they die so viciously. Not often you’ll find yourself screaming FOR the bad guy in appreciation instead of fear. And the same went for all of the other slashers that followed, and why there is so much merchandise from t-shirts to action figures that deal with these modern day monsters. It was far and fine time that we had some more monsters that we would appreciate, and it couldn’t have been done without the cursed one known as Michael Myers.

Now before I get going with this film, let’s talk about all of it’s convoluted sequels. I’m not gonna get into the plots of much of them, but try and paint you a picture of their universes. Think of all of the films insisting in the great Halloween universe, and certain films within the series took different roads in it to make them connected. I can think of about 3 separate timelines within the series:

A) The Laurie Strode timeline: This would involve Halloween 1,2, Halloween H:20 and Halloween 8 and probably soon to be 9. This one states that Laurie Strode went into hiding, and would eventually have a boy who “twenty years later” Michael would come for her to kill the blood line yet again. Which he does by part 8 so his purpose should end as well, instead it doesn’t and yet they keep making his films

B)Halloween 3: A Celtic group that makes masks that will on Halloween create devastation and evil blah blah. In this film, we actually see that the originally Halloween film is a movie within this universe created by John Carpenter.

C)The Jamie Strode timeline: Occurs in Halloweens 4,5,6 – these films basically state that after Halloween 2 and before 4, the Jamie Lee character ended up having a child but died in a car crash with her then husband. Jamie survived, went up for adoption until Myers found out his blood line continued and he needed to kill his niece. These films wouldn’t be anything without Donald Pleasance (who was pretty much tricked into returning for his role when notified that Carpenter would be recurring). In four and five she’s still a lil girl being hunted down, but by 6 she is abducted by this weird cult that would force Michale to have sex with his niece and create a new evil. So now Myer’s is a pawn of the cult, but Tommy (the boy who was babysat in the original film) ends up keeping that baby safe after Jamie is murdered. The cult comes after him and it’s chaotic. The producer’s cut of this film is awesome if you can find it – otherwise don’t and when this film ends – they also end the concept of the creepish cult and by the next sequel return to the Laurie Strode timeline for H20.

The story- On Halloween in 1963, a young boy by the name of Michael Myers is spending a typical Halloween dressed up. He’s awaiting for his older sister to probably go out with him for Halloween while she’s getting ready. He sees her naked, grabs a huge ass kitchen knife and stabs her to death. There’s really no motivation or wondering why he did it – Michael just pretty much goes catatonic from that point on not talking to anyone just staring off into space.

Being that Michael is only six at the time, he couldn’t be trialed as an adult – so he’s locked up in Smith’s Grove Warren County Sanitarium until he’s 18. Dr. Sam Loomis (as played by the legendary Donald Pleasance) is his doctor and tries to get anything out of him. But Loomis knows of the evil within Michael, he stared into his eyes ….“those black lifeless eyes” So Loomis warns everyone how evil that Meyers is, he needs to be either locked up or continued into a maximum security penitentiary on his 18th birthday which is Halloween.

This brings us up to (then) present time, it’s just about Halloween in 1978, and Michael is to be transferred to be trialed and for a more maximum security prison for killing his older sister those years ago. Only Loomis knows just how evil that Michael really is (and for those Halloween-philes from reading the comics, Michael murdered Loomis’ wife years ago while he was in prison. Know one would ever think Michael did it because he’ll just stare at the walls, and through the walls and beyond the walls back to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois where he must extinguish his blood line that he just knows still do exist.

So Loomis and Nurse Marion are on their way to make sure Michael is transferred, but he’s able to escape. Which causes all of th other nut jobs to run away but Michael hijacks a car and drives back home. Of course Loomis is pissed and knows where Michael is heading – so he’s on the trail back to Haddonfield to head him off at the pass if you will, since in Carpenter’s eyes – each one of his films is a Western. Along the way, Loomis is just on his trail and notices a mechanic is murdered and his truck is stolen along with the jumpsuit of the Mechanic. They find the car Michael stole from Smith’s Grove and his medical scrubs. Loomis continues on to Haddonfield where Myers is already setting up camp.

Cue in for nerdy lil Laurie Strode

(played by one of the earliest and greatest Scream Queen’s Jamie Lee Curtis in one of her earliest roles). Well Laurie and her friends are all getting ready for the Halloween festivities, making out and talking out boys (typically 70’s girls talk) but Laurie is a good girl, and is a lil bashful but then focuses on how she has to babysit that night for some kids. Her friends all want to take advantage that parents won’t be home where they can have pre-marriedal sex and do drugs blah blah.

Laurie and her friend Annie are walking from school, occasionally stalked by a weirdo in a car, which Annie screams “Speed kills!” Lol, the girls later cruise around and smoke some pot where Annie bumps into her dad Sherrif Brackett who is investigating the fact that the local halloween store was broken into and someone just stole a mask and such – pay no heed to foreshadowing folks. The girls go about and continue getting ready for the night to get wasted or babysit or whatever.

In the mean time, Lynda and her boyfriend Bob are off to get laid

and have a few beers as the lights go down in Haddonfield. Myers is ready to strike as Loomis has entered town and meets up with Sherrif Brackett to join their forces to hunt down the killer known as Myers. Of course Brackett is a lil skeptical, but the two men are off to do some damage (the best is seeing the Sherrif’s reaction when Loomis whips out his pistol and starts to do some damage) Oh, I have a permit.

Well then comes in the formula that all slasher fans are all too familiar about. If your a teenager having sex or doing drugs you’re gonna die. Which is why I think Myers initially killed his older sister for when she had sex with her boyfriend and would make sense that procreation to continue his bloodline is why they must die for it. The formula was re-used in the Friday the 13th films because the camp counselors were too busy screwing than her watching lil Jason while he was drowning.

One by one Laurie’s friends are dropping off and she can’t reach them, murders come and murders go and Sheriff and Loomis are trying to stop all of the madness. Eventually when Michael comes for Laurie everyone joins forces and Loomis must save the day. Who will survive the night, how many bullets can Michael take, how will the lil babysat children be affected by this night in the years to come – what is to come on Halloween, the night HE came home?

Memorable quotes:

[referring to a partially eaten dog]
Sheriff Leigh Brackett: A man wouldn’t do that.
Dr. Sam Loomis: This isn’t a man.

[after Michael falls off the balcony]
Laurie: Was that the boogeyman?
Dr. Sam Loomis: As a matter of fact… it was!

Dr. Sam Loomis: I met him, fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left. No reason, no conscience, no understanding; even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face and, the blackest eyes… the *devil’s* eyes! I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply… *evil*!

Annie Brackett: [Michael Myers’s car cruises by the girls walking home from school] Hey, jerk! SPEED KILLS!
[the car screeches to a halt]

Lynda: Now when we get inside, Annie will distract Lindsey and we go upstairs to the first bedroom on the right. Got it?
Bob: First I rip your clothes off…
Lynda: Don’t rip my blouse, it’s expensive you idiot!
Bob: Then I rip my clothes off, then I rip Lindsey’s clothes off, yeah I think I got it.

Dr. Terence Wynn: Now, for God’s sake, he can’t even drive a car!
Dr. Sam Loomis: He was doing very well last night! Maybe someone around here gave him lessons

Sheriff Leigh Brackett: Well, it’s going to take a lot more than fancy talk to keep me up all night crawling around these bushes.
Dr. Sam Loomis: I- I- I watched him for fifteen years, sitting in a room, staring at a wall, not seeing the wall, looking past the wall – looking at this night, inhumanly patient, waiting for some secret, silent alarm to trigger him off. Death has come to your little town, Sheriff. Now you can either ignore it, or you can help me to stop it.
Sheriff Leigh Brackett: More fancy talk.

Dr. Sam Loomis: [pulling his gun after being startled by a crash] You must think me a very sinister doctor… oh, I have a permit.
Sheriff Leigh Brackett: Seems to me you’re just plain scared.
Dr. Sam Loomis: Yeah, yeah I am…

Dr. Sam Loomis: You’ve got to believe me, Officer, he is coming to Haddonfield… Because I know him – I’m his doctor! You must be ready for him… If you don’t, it’s your funeral!

Lynda: [exposing her breasts] See anything you like?

Dr. Sam Loomis: He came home!

Dr. Sam Loomis: You’ve fooled them, haven’t you Michael? Well, you haven’t fooled me.

Lindsey Wallace: I’m scared!
Laurie: There’s nothing to be scared of, now get changed.
Tommy Doyle: Are you sure?
Laurie: Yes.
Tommy Doyle: How?
Laurie: I killed him…
Tommy Doyle: [shouts] But you can’t kill the boogie man!

Worthless tidbits of info:

Even though the film takes place in Haddonfield Illinois (partially based on co-writer/long time producer of John Carpenter’s Debra Hill) all of the license plates have California on them due to the fact this was such a low budgeted film

The film was shot in 22 days, a remarkably fast effort

No one is clearly listed to have played Myers under the mask, legend has it – even the director John Carpenter wore the mask for a few scenes

In Frankenstein fashion, Myers is referred to as The Shape, a shape of pure ominous and dark evil as only Loomis can refer to as.

Dario Argento had the gloved killer, Carpenter had the masked killer. It was from viewing a lot of Giallo films that Carpenter got some influence to make his film, and can be quoted about Dario’s movies as “they don’t make any sense, but he shows death so beautifully”

As noted earlier, Carpenter is also a huge fun of Psycho, one of the main characters in that film is Sam Loomis (the boyfriend of Nancy Curtis in the film). Donald Pleasance character is named after him, and the daughter of the main woman murdered in the shower sequence of Psycho, is the very same Jamie Lee Curtis – the main heroine in this film. And also, the young Tommy Doyle’s character’s name is from Hitchcock’s Rear Window

The Michael Myers mask was actually a William Shatner mask spray painted white.

The film was shot in the spring in California but takes place in the Fall of Illinois. So the crew had to buy paper leaves and color them Autumn colors and reuse the same leaves over and over again for all of the scenes.

The kids are watching The Thing from Another World, Carpenter would eventually remake that classic in just a few years with The Thing, too bad E.T made a friendly alien concept a lot better than one to reduplicate and kill you.

Michael Myers has no connection to the man to eventually don the Austin Powers syndrome. In fact, he’s named after the international distributor who helped out so much for the European success of Carpenter’s previous film in Assault on Precinct 13.

Leigh Brackett from this film is named after the same screenwriter from Howard Hawk’s Rio Bravo, the main inspiration to Assault on Precinct 13

The film was originally slated to be called the Babysitter Murders

There is a different cut of the film if you can find it – I actually own one for when the film was originally shown on ABC in the late 70’s they needed extra scenes to fill up what gore was cut out (and nudity :( ) Certain cuts incorporate the stuff filmed on tv (such as the unmasked Michael staring at Laurie at the end of the film) and all of the original gore.

Final run dwon of the film

Breasts seen: 2 pairs

Body count 5

Buckets of blood 3 out of 10- The gorey stuff occurs when a friend’s corpse pops down or up outta no where.


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