Thursday, December 3, 2009

Halloween (1978)

Part II in a John Carpenter film quest.

Starring: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Charles Cyphers
Written by: John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Directed by: John Carpenter

John Carpenter became a household name in 1978 with Halloween, his landmark entry into the horror genre. Made on a shoestring budget ($320,000) the film went on to gross nearly fifty million in the U.S. alone, and became the biggest independent movie in history.

Fifteen years prior, six-year-old Michael Myers is locked up in an institution after killing his teenage sister with a butcher knife. On the night he's to be transferred to court (to be tried as an adult), Myers escapes, his psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance) trailing after him.

Myers returns to his childhood home in Haddonfield, Illinois, on Halloween, and proceeds to stalk Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her friends relentlessly. No one knows why, but it's clear Myers will stop at nothing.

Put simply, the movie is horror, in its most raw and purified form. With Halloween, Carpenter proved that he could scare the hell out of his audience without a big budget. Instead of special effects, he uses lighting, sound design, and music to do the work for him. The music - a seemingly simple and unsophisticated piano melody serves to add a distinct mood to the movie, and us used to a very creepy effect. It's a style that punctuates the minimalist approach to the actual film (just as he did with Assault on Precinct 13).

And like the film's style, Carpenter keeps Myers simple. There's no "why" when it comes to Myers - nothing supernatural or outlandish. He's just some kid who snapped. And the fact that we have no reason why he's after Laurie just heightens her role as victim. She's done nothing wrong, nothing to atone for. But he's out to kill her, and there's no reasoning with Myers.

Carpenter's third movie as a director fires on all cylinders. It's spartan, basic and undiluted.

And scary as hell.


No comments:

Post a Comment