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Halloween (1978) Retrospective Review

Halloween movie review

So for the next few weeks, I will be doing a retrospective of all my favorite Halloween movies. I will be reviewing Halloween 1-7 and giving you the low down on why I love these films. These are the gold standard on how to make a successful slasher franchise, some are better than others but they are all still great in their own way.

Back in 1978 John Carpenter had a great idea for a horror film, a horror film that would become the monster franchise it is today. After directing Assault On Precinct 13, Carpenter was approached by financer Moustapha Akkad about directing a film about teenagers being stalked by a psychopathic killer. The budget was definitely bigger then Carpenter’s last picture and agreed he would do the picture if he could get his name above the title.

With everything a go, it was time for the casting. First up was an unknown actress called Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode. Jamie Lee Curtis who, if you don’t know, is the offspring of original scream queen Janet Leigh (Psycho) & legendary actor Tony Curtis.

Halloween movie review

Carpenter then cast Donald Pleasence, who went on to another John Carpenter movie The Prince Of Darkness. Pleasence played Doctor Loomis, Michael Myer’s doctor who tried and failed to help him. Also cast in this film are Laurie’s friends Annie Brackett (Nancy Kyes) & Lynda (P. J. Soles).

So let’s get into the story shall we? We open up the movie in Haddonfield, Illinois on Halloween night 1968. We see from a first-person view watching a young woman named Judith Myers and her boyfriend making out. Of course we see them lead to the bedroom, whats a horror movie without a little sex right? We then see the boyfriend leaving the house quickly and the unknown person get into the house through the back door. He picks up a clown mask and goes to the bedroom. Judith notices it’s her brother Michael and yells at him to get out. Next an amazingly brutal stabbing scene occurs which is amazing and Michael’s sister falls down dead. Now this being from 1978, this still holds up to being a very great opening death scene. After the stabbing Michael goes outside where he is greeted by his mother and father, they see Michael holding a bloody butchers knife and realize what he has done.

Halloween movie review

We then shift over to October 30th, 1978. Doctor Loomis(Pleasence) is heading to Smith’s Grove Sanitarium to collect a 21-year-old Michael Myers. Loomis and a nurse whose name is never revealed are driving, Loomis goes to tell her the story of what Michael Myers did and how he tried to help him and failed. They notice the patients are all outside in the rain roaming the grounds, Loomis gets out and tells the nurse to lock the door while he goes to see whats going on. As soon as Loomis gets out the car, Michael terrorizes the nurse and makes her get out the car and Michael drives away. Loomis tells the nurse “You let him leave, you let evil escape”. We meet Laurie Strode (Curtis) dropping keys off to the old Myers house while little Tommy Doyle tells her “You can’t go there, that’s where the boogeyman lives”. After dropping off the keys, we see the back of a figure who is Michael. He then begins to stalk Laurie and all her friends. What I love about this movie is there’s actually real scary tension. We get to see one by one, Michael taking out all of Laurie’s friends in awesome brutal fashion. One thing that shocked me in this movie was that there isn’t a lot of gore in this film. There’s brutal kills, but not a lot of blood and it still worked and scared you. I give that to the amazing film making of John Carpenter. Laurie’s friend Annie, who’s dad, Sheriff Brackett, gets a call about a robbery that has happened. All that was stolen were a few knives, some rope and a mask. Hmmm, I wonder who that could be … hmmmm.

Halloween movie review

We then come down to the final showdown between Laurie & Michael. It’s some of the best action in a horror for that time period. You really feel for Laurie and want to know why this is happening. Well, on the Blu-ray they released recently, they explain that Michael wants to kill Laurie because she is his younger sister. In Michael’s head he has to kill his sister’s and any family member that’s alive. There is a flashback scene of Young Laurie with her foster mom visiting Michael at Smith’s Grove. Laurie was fostered by the Strode family and given the name Laurie  after her parents died in a crash when Michael was committed. So we get Laurie fighting for her life while finding the bodies of her friends, Laurie then runs across the street back to hide in her house. Michael of course finds her and tries to strangle her and take her last breath away.

While she is getting strangled, Loomis finds where Michael is and shoots him 6 times. Michael again takes the shots like a champ and just falls off the balcony to the ground outside. Laurie asks Dr. Loomis, “Was that the boogeyman?” Which Loomis replies “As a matter of fact…it was”. Loomis goes outside and Michael’s body is gone, leaving the fact there might be a sequel.

I got to see this movie recently on 35mm print with Halloween II. It is a movie that in my opinion still holds up today. Michael Myers is part of The Unholy Trinity Of Slashers, which also includes Freddy Kruger & Jason Voorhees. What I loved about this movie is that it has an engaging story, a lot of suspense without being over the top gory and great kill scenes with barely any blood. The Halloween theme itself is a classic music choice if I must say. When you hear it you know it’s Halloween. I like that it gives you very minimal info on Michael until the right time, and unlike Rob Zombie’s version they didn’t have to give you every reason why Michael was why he was. As Loomis said himself “What he was, was pure evil”.

I love this movie sooooo much, I give this film 5 out of 5 skulls. In my opinion, this is a perfect horror movie that will live the test of time when it comes to slasher films. This is part 1 of my 7 part Halloween retrospective reviews, we will be going through parts 2-7. The rest you can skip because they got worse over time and the reason why the movie company thought to reboot the series, even though Rob Zombie put the final nail in the coffin and why I won’t review those. If I did, it would be me talking about every stupid, crap move they made to humanize Michael, which i think was a bad idea. But all film is subjective and I have friends that love that version of Halloween, I just can’t agree with them… but it does lead to great discussions.

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Jay Quinn
I am a podcaster/movie reviews that is obsessed with film cinema, I love all types of movies and love having discussions about them. I love talking whats good, bad, what worked and what didn't work in these movies.