Halloween (1978) (R)
If we're being honest, which I hope that we would, there's nothing incredibly frightening about "Halloween". I've never been one to think of John Carpenter as a master director and here again he doesn't give me good enough reason to change my mind. For a man more known for his special effects and gross-out moments, Carpenter's take on a very simplistic horror movie turns out to be just that: simple.
Set in Illinois in the 60s, "Halloween" begins on the last day of October. We are given the perspective of the killer, we see through his eyes. As a young boy, dressed as a clown, this little murderer sneaks into his sister's bedroom and stabs her until she dies. They find the boy standing in the middle of the road with a blank expression, clearly not overcome with guilt.
Now it's the 70s and we're back in Illinois except now this young boy is a man in his twenties who is ready to spring out and return to the scene of the crime, which he does right as he's about to get transported there via state mandated psychiatric care. Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) is one who thinks that Michael Myers, the killer in question, should be locked up for the rest of his life because he is so dangerous, so far beyond ethics that he won't even consider Michael as human.
So luckily for us the audience, we have a killing machine on the loose...yay!
Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis in a break to fame) is baby-sitting on Halloween night. She's a smart girl but doesn't have much luck with the fellas. Pretty but not beautiful, warm but not overly affectionate, and very polite, it would seem that she has everything going for her...and apparently Michael thinks so too.
Upon retuning to his home town, he is immediately drawn to Laurie and stalks her for the rest of the movie.
The cliches are here, the many awful tropes of the horror movie: he who gets tail, gets slain. Sorry, that's just how it works. Naturally, the awkward virgin is the one who survives the longest, but what Carpenter and co-writer Debra Hill fail to do is give us anything new.
In the movie there are Easter eggs, like Howard Hawks' "The Thing" coming on television, which Carpenter would later remake and it would become one of his more famous movies.
Still there's the problem with the score and the problem with the story.
If Michael Myers is as bad as everyone says he is, which no one is disagreeing, why aren't they more concerned when he escapes? Only Loomis is the one who has any urgency about him and he's repeatedly shot down by his cohorts so he has to try to find a way to stop the mad man by himself.
Then Carpenter makes the further bad choice by making the bad guy invincible. Just because the question of humanity comes into play, doesn't mean you have to waste an ending letting us ponder it further.
Let me clarify further, I don't demand happy endings...but this is ridiculous.
Iconic to a fault, "Halloween" is just cheap scare after cheap scare. It's about the things that go bump in the night...but Michael Myers just isn't that frightening of a villain. He's so passive as he stands there with his William Shatner mask and breaths heavily...oooh, scary.
"Halloween" is neither creepy nor ingenuitive and it fails to even be voyeuristically pleasurable. It's kind of a dud...but then again, there are those who love it, so what do I know?
Posted by Micah Jones