Halloween (1978)

Halloween is a 1978 horror movie that takes place in fictional Haddonfield, Illinois.  Its stars include Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis, Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, Nancy Kyes as Annie Brackett, P.J. Soles as Lynda van der Klok, and Charles Cyphers as Sheriff Leigh Brackett.  The producer is Debra Hill (The Fog).  It is directed by John Carpenter (Christine).

The movie opens in 1963 Haddonfield, Illinois with six-year old Michael Myers fatally stabbing his older sister Judith at their house just minutes before their parents arrive.  He is immediately committed to a sanitarium and placed under the care of Dr. Sam Loomis.  After eight years of trying to reach Michael, Loomis declares him pure evil and spends the next seven years trying to keep him incarcerated.  Fifteen years after Judith’s murder, Michael escapes by stealing Loomis’s car and driving back to Haddonfield.  The doctor drives to the little town to warn the local authorities of the killer’s arrival.  Meanwhile, shy and timid Laurie Strode is a teenager living in Haddonfield.  Her best friends Annie and Lynda try to get her to go out with someone but she doesn’t.  Laurie is to babysit Tommy Doyle on Halloween night.  What she didn’t count on, however, was Michael Myers stalking her and her friends.  One by one, Michael kills all of Laurie’s friends until only she is left.  She stays oblivious to this fact until she checks the Wallace house across the street where Annie was babysitting Lindsey Wallace and where Lynda and her boyfriend Bob had been sleeping together.  Lindsey had been dropped off earlier in the evening to stay with Laurie and Tommy while Annie goes to pick up her boyfriend Paul.  Laurie had called the Wallace house and failed to get an answer so she went over there to investigate.  She found all three of her friends’ bodies and, unfortunately, also found Michael.  He stabs her in the left arm, causing her to fall down the stairs.  She escapes the house and runs back to the Doyle’s to call the police.  But Michael has already cut the phone lines and entered the house.  Laurie, Tommy, and Lindsey are left alone in the dark house with the murderous Michael Myers while Dr. Loomis is desperately trying to locate his escaped patient.

Halloween is the first movie to truly personify the boogeyman, the fictional being who punishes children when they are naughty.  Michael Myers seems to punish those that misbehave, making him the perfect boogeyman.  For example, just before Michael killed Judith, she had been having sex with her boyfriend.  Fifteen years later, Annie and Laurie were smoking pot in the Brackett car.  Laurie seemed reluctant, which is probably why she was able to survive the longest.  But Annie, on the other hand, appeared to enjoy it.  Later on after Annie had dropped off Lindsey and was going to get Paul persumeably to have sex, Michael slit her throat as she was starting the car.  A few minutes afterward, Lynda and Bob arrived, completely drunk, and had sex in the bedroom of the Wallace house.  Bob was killed when he was stabbed in the torso by Michael and left hanging in the kitchen.  He strangled Lynda as she was calling Laurie to find out where Annie was.  Michael Myers’ character gave rise to many other well-known boogeymen, like Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees.  This led to the slasher movie subgenre, which peaked in the late 1970’s and throughout the entire 1980’s.

Another interesting concept in the movie is the idea that we never learn why Michael killed his sixteen-year old sister Judith and, later, chose Laurie Strode and her friends to stalk and kill.  Of course, we get some hints in the film’s subsequent sequels but not in this particular movie’s story.  This fact, in some ways, makes Halloween even darker and scarier than it otherwise would have been.  If he doesn’t have a motive to limit the number of possible victims, then he could go after anybody, including whoever watches the movie.  This could be one of the reasons Halloween is widely considered one of the scariest movies ever made.

To wrap, if gore and graphic violence are what you’re looking for, then Halloween is not the movie for you.  But if you crave the suspenseful fear of a psychological thriller, then you will not be disappointed by Halloween.

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