Halloween ★★★★★

It's hard to believe its been forty-five years since this thing popped onto screens and it's even harder to believe all the countless imitators that have followed. It's hard to do so now but if you clear the needless remake out of your mind and the various plot twists that would follow in all the sequels, this film remains incredibly true to form and hasn't lost one bit of its power.

The story is pretty simple as Michael Myers returns to his hometown fifteen years after killing his sister and begins to stalk three babysitters. Such a simple plot line yet this film is the perfect example of not needing money to make some terrific and in the end this film remains one of the greatest horror films ever made. I've always loved the bit from Roger Ebert's review where he quotes Hitchcock as saying he loves to play an audience like playing a piano. That's pretty much what Carpenter does here as we haven't an idea why The Shape is stalking these girls or even what he is exactly.

This entire mysterious form would be lost due to various elements of sequels but, again, it's best to put those elements out of your mind if you can. Carpenter's mastery behind the camera can be seen early on with the brilliant opening sequence that takes us from outside the house, to the murder upstairs and then back outside. This is a now classic sequence and it still holds up well today. The middle sequence of the film is perfectly written for us to get to know the characters but I love how Carpenter also uses it to build up the atmosphere of it being Halloween. The various pumpkins, the horror movies on television and even something as simple as the leaves falling perfectly puts us in the mood for everything that's going to follow.

Then there's the final fifteen-minutes, which are just downright brilliantly executed and I'd say some of the best moments the genre has to offer. There's enough suspense in this sequence for two films but the same Carpenter builds everything up when The Shape is walking across the street with Jamie Lee Curtis' character pounding on the door is remarkably done.

The performances by the entire cast are top-notch as everyone from Curtis to Nancy Loomis and P.J. Soles fit their roles wonderfully well. Then there's Donald Pleasence turning in a now legendary performance in the role that he will always be remembered for (which is saying a lot when you look at how many wonderful films he was in). I love the way you can read his eyes to feel everything that he's feeling and the way he delivers the lines are top-notch.

Then we have the terrific music score by Carpenter, which is scary enough on its own without anything we then see in the movie. Thirty-years later many, many films have come along with the same formula but nothing has ever come close to capturing the power of this film.

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