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HALLOWEEN 1978
Movie Review

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HALLOWEEN MOVIE POSTER
HALLOWEEN 1978
Movie Reviews

Directed by John Carpenter
Starring: Donald Pleasence , Jamie Lee Curtis , Nancy Kyes , P.J. Soles
Review by Andrew Kosarko



SYNOPSIS:

A mysterious serial killer stalks and murders the babysitters of Haddonfield on Halloween night.

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REVIEW:

The synopsis above is quite simple. Actually, a lot simpler than most synopsis’. And that’s why this film works. It doesn’t over complicate it with motivates and “twists.” It’s simple. There’s a killer. Run for your life. There’s so many more elements that come out of this film that set the standard for horror that I’m surprised more film makers don’t pay attention to it. There’s minimal blood and gore and yet it’s still one of the scariest films of all time. Gee, lets see if we can figure out why…….

The Story: An escaped mental patient returns to his hometown and stalks a group of girls on Halloween night while walking around in a Halloween mask. The girls just have to make it through the night. There’s a certain irony to what’s going on as well. The girls are babysitting, which for the most part is just looking out for the children’s best interest. In a way, the girls are forced to either mature or….well, simply put, die. The girls who choose to live a “sinful life” are off’d by Myers, and yet the one innocent soul survives. It’s a morality tale and a coming of age film. Who knew?

Acting: Yes, it was made in the 70’s. So it’s dated by it’s lingo and styles. But it’s easily overlooked for the horrifically creepy moments that consistently occur. Jamie Lee Curtis isn’t the hottest chick in the movie, and yet somehow you still want her to live. I admit to my own male bias when I say that I always hope the ugly chicks die first. It takes real presence to accomplish such a feat. Donald Pleasance, however, steals the show as the man crying wolf….surrounded by people who have no reason not to trust….that don’t trust him. It almost makes the good doctor go mad himself. So he takes matters into his own hands. There isn’t a moment where these two leads are doubted by an audience. They carry us through the film easily and enjoyable. We identify with them and enjoy the fact they’re not as stupid as everyone else.

Directing: John Carpenter hits his personal best, in my opinion, with this film. It was one of the smallest budgets he had and it’s this type of guerilla filmmaking that really shows what kind of a director you are. Like George Lucas in the original Star Wars and Kevin Smith’s Clerks, the lack of money helps Carpenter focus on the content to pull the film up another notch, not the production value.

Cinematography: Best Horror Cinematography Ever. There – I said it. And I mean it too. I’ve always held a theory that true horror comes from what you know but can’t see, or can barely see. Nowadays with ADD running rampant through our generation, the industry focuses on quick jump cuts and loud noises to make us stray in our seats. Carpenter and company did the exact opposite here. The opening scene is all one POV shot (several shots strung together to imply one shot, but still, one shot). The longer you hold a shot, the more drawn into the frame the audience is. The more they forget they’re in a movie theater. It creeps the shit out of them. IT. WORKS. Furthermore, you have dark shadows so that not everything is lit well, until they start slowly allowing subtle bits of light into the frame, as if you eyes were realistically adjusting to the darkness….and you see the monster waiting in the shadows. Sheer brilliance. Or…when you hold a shot and very SUBTLEY place the killer in the background, no musical cue or focus on it, pan one way, pan back and he’s gone. People watching the long takes, drawn into what’s going on will notice, and be creeped the hell out by it. And. It. Works.

Production Design: It’s minimal, but sufficient. It’s common knowledge by now that the infamous mask of the Shape (aka Michael Myers) was just a Captain Kirk mask spray painted white. And hey, it worked huh? The face is so emotionless, you cannot gather anything about this killer. And that works for the story. It’s a lot scarier when you cannot understand or rationalize someone chasing after you.

Editing: Flawless. The opening scene is a demonstration of how it all works wonders. Score: John Carpenter not only made one of the greatest horror films of all time, but one of the creepiest themes as well. There’s just something about those piano notes that are recognizable, capture the feeling of late October….and scare the life out of you as well.

Special Effects: Old school baby….the way it should still be done.

In closing: This is by far one of the top 3 best Horror Films of all time. It easily trumps any other knock offs…or eh hem….remakes. If you haven’t seen it, don’t. Not until October…at night…in a house by yourself. See if you sleep later on, because I promise you won’t.

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