Come on, you knew this one was coming. How could it not? John Carpenter’s Halloween remains the apex slasher film. It is the horror movie that other horror movies wish they could be. It continues to frighten us with each new viewing and leaves the audience on a knifes edge of sanity by the time the credits roll. The moment you hear Halloween’s all too familiar theme music, no matter the situation, you become a little more on edge, a little more alert of your surroundings.
Halloween was co-written, scored, and directed by John Carpenter on a budget of $300,000. (Roughly 10 dollars in today’s money.). It was released in 1978. It tells the story of a young boy named Michael Myers who for reasons unknown kills his older sister on Halloween night. Michael is committed to a mental hospital under the care of Dr. Sam Loomis. Michael escapes the facility as an adult and returns to his hometown for a killing spree while Loomis attempts to track him down.
Halloween set a lot of trends that would become commonplace in slasher films in the eighties and nineties. If Scream satirized the trend, Halloween set it. The fake out where the killer is not really dead, the pure virgin who stands as the lone survivor, these archetypes and others can trace their origins to Halloween.
I believe the reason Halloween became such an important pillar of the horror landscape is simple. The film contains very little blood or gore, and maintains a pretty low body count. It does not frighten us because of what we know, it frightens us because of what we do not know. Michael Myers is seemingly a mad man with no motivation. He’s the Shape, as he’s referred to in the credits. He starts to kill as a child and does not stop until he is seemingly killed by Dr. Loomis. His mask is a ghostly white that only barely resembles a human face, it is a blank canvas on to which the viewer projects their worst fear, Michael Myers can be anyone, anything; he serves no higher purpose but to kill.
Each sequel gives us a little more information on Michael Myers, and each movie gets little worse for it. Rob Zombie’s 2007 reboot dedicates a considerable amount of run time to delving deep into Michael Myers disturbed childhood in an effort to find a method to his madness. It completely misses the point, the madness is the method.
Halloween was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry because of its cultural significance in 2006. If it is not already a part of your October routine, it should be.
Don’t miss our other must-see picks on our 31 Days of Halloween list here. And stay spooky everybody!
Featured Artist | Sooki Martinsen
The work in our featured image is IPC’s own, Sooki Martinsen. A childhood friend who we’re fortunate enough to have help us with things like what you see above and below. Sooki is like, TALENTED. To see more of her work go to www.sookimartinsen.com. Here is Sooki’s take on Michael Myers.