A Pictorial History of the Movies: 1978 – Halloween
This one took a left turn that even I wasn’t expecting. Because the film that made all the money this year was Superman. But that didn’t feel like the right choice. And Deer Hunter and Coming Home won all the Oscars. And they didn’t feel like the right choices either. Deer Hunter felt okay, but it felt okay just because it won Best Picture. It didn’t really feel like a film that encapsulated its year. Grease also made a lot of money, but I don’t know if that pinpoints itself to any particular year so much as it’s just Grease.
Animal House was something I considered for a second as well. But then I saw this, and I saw Dawn of the Dead. And I felt like both of these, more so this one, were both critical in reestablishing the horror genre for the future. There was a giant horror boom in the 80s, and it’s because of films like this.
This movie essentially gave birth to the slasher genre.
Pysho was the grandfather of the slasher genre, but this is the first true horror slasher film. The kind that we recognize. Half naked women getting stabbed and such.
It’s actually pretty amazing, every time I go back and watch this, how simple it is. A little boy kills his sister. 15 years later, he escapes, and goes after a girl from his hometown and her friends. That’s basically it. And yet, it’s just a great movie. A lot of it is due to Carpenter’s use of score and camera work. He manages to do a lot with a little. Which is something horror movies nowadays don’t seem to know anything about.
It’s pretty great, how often we’re point directly in the POV of the killer. Which gives the whole film an ominous, unsettling mood and adds to the scariness.
I’m the first one to admit that I don’t like the horror genre. But I really like this movie. Because it’s really well made. It’s obviously low budget, and has limitations on that front, but as a film that is designed to be creepy and scary, it works. And that’s all due to Carpenter’s filmmaking techniques and use of music.
This movie spawned an entire franchise that’s still (for the most part) continuing to this day, and gave birth to a horror icon, as well. With nothing but a knife and a $1.98 William Shatner mask spray-painted white. Michael Myers is on the Mount Rushmore of horror figures.
This feels like the right kind of movie to represent 1978. Because it still feels like the 70s. (Just look at how all the teenagers are dressed if you don’t believe that.) It’s got that filmmaker first feel to it, like so many 70s movies have. And it gave birth to the horror boom of the 80s.
And seriously, though… that music…
Every time I put this movie on, by the time those opening credits are done, you’re completely in the mood for this movie.