Is there anyone out there who has not seen the original, and best, Halloween? Waiting….waiting….no? Okay, thought so. So, what could I say that hasn’t been said a million times before? This movie is the quintessential horror film for any and all generations. Its story and characters transcend any age group, gender, interest in film, or lack thereof. I honestly don’t know anyone who doesn’t love it and regard it as the one of the best, if not the defining horror film of its time or really, any time. Technically, it is brilliant. The script is nearly flawless as are its characters. Sure, there may be a few questions left unanswered, but what good film doesn’t? Otherwise, what are you watching it for? To have everything answered for you? No, we all know that’s not what film is about. There’s no movie like this, and there probably never will be one that gets us, the way this one does. So, let’s begin, shall we?
We all know that Michael Myers murdered his sister, Judith, on Halloween night in 1963 at the age of six. Besides being a fascinating premise, we all at some point have wondered if it is true that people are born evil. Just born to maim, kill, and cause mayhem. I personally believe it is. With some of the things I’ve heard, seen, and read, it has to at least be possible. The fact that we go in from the killer’s point of view really drives this theory. We see no argument that may have triggered it, no lashing out, hell, no noise even, from little Michael as he slowly but surely makes his way past the knife drawer and creeps upstairs to end his sister’s life. Short and sweet. No explanation, no words, no nothing. Skip to fifteen years later, and we are introduced to a doctor and a nurse, speaking of this boy, now a man, in the car. They are headed up to Smith’s Grove, the mental hospital Michael has called home since 1963. Michael has somehow escaped, and after a struggle, takes off in the doctor’s car. The next day, we meet a young girl named Laurie Strode, making her way to school on Halloween, when she runs into her frequent charge, Tommy Doyle. She reassures him of the fun things they’ll do that night while she babysits, as Michael, who has arrived in Haddonfield, watches her from a distance.
As Laurie goes through her day, she notices this strange man in a white mask that seems to be everywhere she is. Her friends, Lynda and Annie, think she’s odd, and all they can think about is their night of romance with their boyfriends. Annie is the typical best friend, complete with a little attitude and sense of humor. Lynda is a goofball, ditzy yet sweet, cheerleader. Later that day, Annie picks Laurie up to go to their respective babysitting duties, and they run into Annie’s father, the sheriff. He blames kids for an apparent break-in at a hardware store where a rope, knives, and a Halloween mask were stolen. Sheriff Brackett is then confronted by Dr. Loomis, who recounts the story of the escape and about what he thinks might happen now to the little town of Haddonfield. As the night goes on, Annie is trying to make a break from Lindsey, her charge, and drops her off with Laurie and Tommy. Annie is headed to pick up her boyfriend, Paul, when she is attacked and killed in her car. Lynda and her boyfriend, Bob, anxious to rendezvous with Annie and Paul arrive at the house to find no one home. She calls Laurie and she tells them Annie’s gone to get Paul. Lynda and Bob, unaware they don’t have the house to themselves, make good on their plan and have sex upstairs. After going for a beer, Bob is killed in the kitchen by Michael, and he makes his way back upstairs. Lynda, thinking it’s Bob, flirts with the man in the doorway wearing a white sheet and glasses. Frustrated at her “boyfriend’s” silence, she calls Laurie, thinking Bob’s just being a tool. Michael comes up from behind and strangles her to death with the phone cord, while a confused Laurie listens in from the other end.
Laurie, very concerned albeit thinking it’s all a joke, goes over to the house across the street, where three of her friends have just been murdered. She finds Annie dead on a bed, with Judith Myers’ headstone resting at the top, and Lynda and Bob’s dead bodies placed nearby. She runs out of the room, screaming that classic Jamie Lee Curtis scream, when Michael appears from the darkness and stabs her in the arm. She falls down the stairs, and Michael, simply walking, is hot on her trail. She makes her way out of the house and back across the street, where a sleepy Tommy has to let her in. They all hide, but Michael comes in through the window. Laurie stabs him in the neck with a knitting needle and runs upstairs. She hides in a closet, but we all know Michael’s not an idiot. She proceeds to stab him in the eye with a pointy hanger, and when he drops his knife, she grabs it and stabs him. She thinks he’s down for the count, but oh no. After Laurie sends the children off to the neighbors to call the police, he grabs her from behind and begins choking her. Dr. Loomis to the rescue! He shoots Michael six times, whereby he falls off the balcony onto the lawn below. With Laurie crying hysterically, Dr. Loomis leans over the railing to see that Michael’s body has vanished. Over John Carpenter’s haunting music, and likely most popular horror theme ever, we see a montage of all the locations Michael has been. Roll credits.
This movie is another example of the few that can scare you without having to do much. Not a lot of killing, not a lot of blood, mostly psychological fear and thinking your eyes may be playing tricks on you. Also brilliant is the use of teenage characters in this film that don’t really act like the typical teeny-bopper. They are much more realistic, and don’t try to play up to some ridiculous stereotype. Unlike many horror movies today, they don’t explain everything to you. They let the viewer figure out things for themselves; giving a little background, but not much else. This, to me, is much more terrifying than some narrator or main character who figures everything out before it’s too late. Hollywood might try, but I don’t think they’ll ever be able to touch this piece of perfection, not by a long shot. Much like Night of the Living Dead in 1968 set the standard for zombie films forever, Halloween did the same for the slasher film, although not technically being the first “slasher”. Besides being a classic, this movie is perfect for backdrops of Halloween parties or October horror marathons, but for us horror geeks, it’s welcome anytime of the year.