When we sat down to watch this film, the opening sound-track reminded me of a great quote by Charlie Brooker: "Fuck the latest Alton Towers terror-coaster - just whack the Halloween soundtrack on your Ipod and listen to it while walking around your own house in the dead of night."
Halloween is a early genre-establishing horror film directed by John Carpenter. It stars Jamie Lee Curtis, who has since starred in 'True Lies' and 'A Fish called Wanda'. The plot is based around a child - 'Micheal' who murders his babysitter and then gets incarcerated for the rest of his life in a psychiatric ward. Micheal ends up escaping somehow (This wasn't really explained) and returning to his old family home to rejuvenate his body-count on the surrounding neighbours.
Although the film is over 30 years old, it still holds the original aim of being suspensful as well as being violent (Incredibly for it's time) The suspense is created mainly through the soundtrack- which is incredibly chilling and piercing, the music creeps up on the viewer whenever the killer comes into shot. The camera-work throughout the film also drives the suspense, the camera follows the killer in the early part of the plot while he stalks his victims, it does not show his face, just a tracking shot of his body. This makes the character very unfamilar to the audience making him more strange.
The pace is also very typical of the genre, with Halloween being the film which set the style. There are many scenes of the teenagers doing things that should be frowned upon by the audience, sex and drugs, making the killer's victims half-deserving of their grizzly death. The pace starts very slow and quickens throughout the film,each death brings the killer closer to the protagonist - Laurie, to the point where the end is the all-out fight between the two characters. The end also has a very genre-wide feature of the killer not dying even though he is repeatedly suspected dead. After being stabbed in the neck with a needle, swiped in the neck with a knife and shot 6 or 7 times resulting in him falling from a first-floor balcony; Micheal still lives, as he escapes at the end. This creates a great unknown suspensful theme, where the audience know he is still lurking somewhere, ready to attack again.
Overall, I really enjoyed this film. Even after watching a lot of the genre films made since (Scream, Freddy Vs Jason etc.) this still seemed fresh and was enjoyable. It had not aged enough to be comedic, like some of the older films we watched and the plot was believable (ish). Halloween was given some incredible reviews and on Rotten Tomatoes it has scored a massive average of 93%. I've included some reviews below.
Channel 4 Film
Innovative (check out the gliding camera moves for starters), inventive (it cost zilch, so the young crew used all their ingenuity), compelling and featuring watchable turns from Curtis, Pleasence and co, John Carpenter and Debra Hill's film is a genuine landmark in the horror-thriller genre.
Channel 4's reviewer recognises Halloween's contribution and place in the Genre of horror, although they describe the plot as a bit weak, saying : it wasn't 'much to write home about' but 'superb 'Cinemascope photography framed to maximum horror effect' which made the film legendary.
'A superb essay in Hitchcockian suspense, which puts all its sleazy Friday the 13th imitators to shame with its dazzling skills and mocking wit.'
The reviewer praises the lighting used throughout the film- 'shifting volumes of darkness and light reveal the presence of a sinister something' I noticed how well Carpenter used the light, showing the sillouette of the killer as well as him slowly creeping through the darkness in the corners of the screen. The reviwer acknowledges the link with the earlier 'Psycho', but claims, as expected, that 'Halloween' falls short of the muder-classic - 'Perhaps not quite so resonant as Psycho to which it pays due homage, but it breathes the same air.'