Release Date: October 25, 1978
Director: John Carpenter
Starring: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, P. J. Soles, Nancy Loomis.
Tag Lines: “The trick was to stay alive.”
“The Night he came home.”
“He’s come back.”
“The Night HE Came Home!”
“HE came home for HALLOWEEN.”
“Everyone is entitled to one good scare.”
“Trick or treat… or die.”
“Let’s celebrate the horror.”
“The Trick Is To Stay Alive!”
Relevance: ‘Halloween’ was released in October of 1978. It was initially dismissed by critics which was par for the course with horror movies, especially slasher films. However, thanks to word of mouth from audiences it had a successful theatrical run and eventually made over $70 million worldwide making it one of the most successful independent releases of all time. I was only seven years old at the time and was oblivious to everything related to this John Carpenter masterpiece.
One of my favorite holidays though was in fact, Halloween. As a kid, I was very shy. I was always hiding behind my mother with my head down every time I was approached by someone. But for some reason, all of that changed on Halloween. I loved the idea of putting on a costume and a mask and becoming someone else for a few hours. Getting candy was just an extra bonus for me. I think the holiday was my first real bite with the acting bug, as it is a similar concept, minus the candy. In my town, we actually did a little performance as well, like singing a song or reciting a poem. Every time I mention that now, I get weird looks from people. I guess we were the only ones that had to perform tricks to get our treats. I remember singing “It’s Halloween and ghosts are seen” dressed as a pirate, a vampire, a ghost and many other fun characters throughout those early years.
In 1981, then at age ten, I finally saw John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’ but in a very edited format. It played on NBC and I remember watching it with my father. I had no real indication that it was edited and simply enjoyed watching this creepy story about a man with a mask running around killing everyone. My mom was nowhere to be seen while we watched it as she loathed all things scary. I on the other hand loved all monsters, ghosts, goblins and serial killers. The more the merrier. Because of that, I loved everything about ‘Halloween.’ The scares, the story and especially that creepy music became a slight obsession for me, even at that very young age.
A few years later, probably around 1983, I watched the movie again, along with its sequel, ‘Halloween II,’ on HBO. That was also around the time I saw ‘Friday the 13th’ for the first time (see 194. Friday the 13th). My obsession with slasher films and serial killers had increased. This time around, the movie was not at all edited. It was creepier, scarier with a lot more blood and boobs. As a twelve year old boy, I didn’t mind one bit. I remember watching both ‘Halloween’ and ‘Halloween II’ one night as a double feature. I am assuming it was sometime in October, but I can’t really remember. What I do remember is my love affair with Michael Myers growing more and more.
Ever since then, ‘Halloween’ remained one of my favorite horror movies of all time. I was there for all of its sequels, actually seeing ‘Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers’ in theaters, and watched them over and over again, even as ridiculous as some of them got. I didn’t care, Michael Myers was the best. He even got more respect from critics as the years went on. The original has become one of the most revered slasher, horror films of all time. It was highly influential for many films to follow in that genre, including ‘Friday the 13th.’ It wasn’t the first of its kind, but ‘Halloween’ became the film that all others tried to replicate. There’s never a Halloween that goes by that I do not watch this John Carpenter at least once. Thanks to networks like AMC, it’s usually more than once, and I am totally fine with that.
Today’s Thoughts: “It’s Halloween; everyone’s entitled to one good scare.”
A little over a month ago, I watched ‘Halloween’ and a few of its sequels over and over again thanks to AMC’s Fright Fest. Halloween really is the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas is a distant second. For some reason I did not own ‘Halloween’ on any format. I used to, but somewhere along the way they disappeared. I rectified that today. After a quick trip to the store, I jumped back in bed (I have a cold, not COVID) and watched ‘Halloween’ yet again.
‘Halloween’ is such a classic horror film and one that I love watching over and over again. John Carpenter really knew how to shock and scare people. His simple yet chilling score, the use of silence, his dark sets and the performance he got out of Jamie Lee Curtis are all chill inducing. Ms. Curtis definitely earned her title as “scream queen.” It’s a great role and she knocks it out of the park. Donald Pleasance is equally effective as Dr. Loomis. The melodrama he brings to the role is perfect and priceless.
There have been so many remakes and reboots of this movie it is hard to keep track. I have not seen all of them (I definitely plan to), but there is nothing like the OG in my opinion. ‘Halloween,’ even more than forty-two years old, is still a very scary movie and one that I adore revisiting year after year. It is a true classic in every sense of the word.
Awards: Los Angeles Film Critics Association New Generation Award, John Carpenter (winner), National Film Registry (2006).
Ways to Watch: Pluto TV, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Vudu, DVD Availability.