MOVIE REVIEW: “Halloween” stars Jamie Lee Curtis (Knives Out, True Lies), Donald Pleasence (The Great Escape, Escape from New York), Nancy Kyes (The Fog, Assault on Precinct 13), P.J. Soles (Carrie , Stripes), Brian Andrews (The Great Santini, Three O’Clock High), Charles Cyphers (Major League, Critical Mass), Kyle Richards (The Watcher in the Woods, The Car), John Michael Graham (Grease), Nancy Stephens (Halloween II, American Dreamer), and Tony Moran (Beg, The Ungovernable Force). It is directed by John Carpenter (Big Trouble in Little China, The Thing ), who also wrote it with Debra Hill (Escape from L.A., The Fog). Fifteen years after killing his sister, Michael Myers (Moran) escapes from a mental institution and goes after a few young women from his hometown; one being a highschooler named Laurie (Curtis).
Oy vey. I try to give credit where it is due, ladies and gentlemen, but when it comes to cheese… it’s a tall order. “Halloween” is regarded as one of THE horror classics. A must-see around spooky season. Since its release, Michael Myers has gone on to be a horror legend, appearing in several follow-up features and remakes, recently of which being a sequel with Jamie Lee Curtis (who reprised her role) back in 2018. I’ve seen the character everywhere, and knew that I had to one day see this movie. Well… I have now… and… yeah, it’s something.
Much like the previous elements that I have listed, John Carpenter himself is a legend, having created an array of films and characters that have become cult classics. One of which I reviewed some time ago, “Big Trouble in Little China,” capitalized on the wacky in submerging itself into lowbrow fantasy. I enjoyed it for what it was, which has been deemed campy. 1978’s “Halloween” is no exception.
While the movie is an entertaining one to watch unfold, it certainly is a laughable experience. I don’t know how scared audiences were back in the day, but as for myself (and my parents who were watching with me) I was completely fine. It could’ve been the fact that the picture kept buffering due to our poor internet, or how awkward certain situations are. There’s not a whole lot of score to create an underbelly for this piece. Aside from the iconic tune that everyone knows (whether you have seen this film or not), a lot of this feature is silent; even “jump scares” are void of sound from time to time. And that… well, it’s odd for sure.
We’re in a phase of horror filmmaking now where jump scares are injected heavily and shaky-cam/fast cuts are a staple. It’s been a cause of controversy in the horror fanatic realm, to which I am aware of but don’t take part in (due to me generally not caring for that genre). A lot of these people regard “Halloween” as fantastic because it goes against these new trends. The shots are long, the reactions drawn out. And while I did like some of the cinematography in this (for campy horror it is nice to look at), I will admit that it can meander. When you aren’t really afraid of the subject matter, it’s difficult to be wrapped in the narrative; especially when that narrative feeds on your fear. Sure, the performances were fun and some of the situations that were set up were absolutely ridiculous (that young drunk couple really had it coming), but I couldn’t help but feel disappointed as I was expecting something chilling.
Another thing to point out is just how obnoxious some of the continuity errors were in this piece. You’d see Michael’s knife laying around in some shots, and the whole make-up of Laurie’s neighborhood is perplexing. It’s hard to explain, but it essentially took Laurie and her friend Annie (Kyes) a few hours to drive a few blocks (with no traffic). Later on, a character walked the distance in what seemed to be a few minutes. I don’t know, maybe I missed something, but my parents questioned it too so… yeah.
All in all, when you know John Carpenter, you know what to expect. While it may be a horror staple that inspired a ton of slasher flicks after it, the end result of “Halloween” is a campy adventure with laughable scenarios and cheesy kills. I don’t want to dog on it too much (it’s from a different time), and will still say that I was ultimately entertained. It was a treat seeing Jamie Lee Curtis young, and she provided enough of a convincing, scared protagonist to keep me in the game. Also, Michael Myers is fun (and his theme? Classic). If you’re into this genre, you’ll enjoy it. Though in a new age of horror and the scare factor certainly upped in recent cinema, it’s tough to say that you will find this one haunting. FINAL SCORE: 70%= Burnt Popcorn
Here is the trailer: