Halloween ★★★★★

Horror of 1978 / Horror of the 70's / Top 100

If you listen to David Cronenberg, you might believe that the 70's was the decade to bring horror out of the stone age. By that he means themes revolving around the past, the things in it, and the monsters of films past. Specifically castles, old European countryside locales, and gothic architecture and settings. And while it's true the majority of 70's films were focused on the present, the 50's really had its eye on the future and the 60's had already undergone major genre reconstruction of place and time. Yet, there were still boundaries horror had yet to cross in terms of places it had yet to penetrate. And though Cronenberg, Romero, and Jeff Lieberman started the trend of horror In Your Home with key body-horror classics The Crazies, Rabid, and Blue Sunshine, Carpenter's Halloween was the film to rock the mainstream. And while it wasn't the first slasher film, which many have been quick to speak up about that over the years, it is the first set in suburbia (rather than an exotic location, as in Bava's grandfather film Bay of Blood / Twitch of the Death Nerve) and in the family home (rather than a communal house you leave home to live in, as in Bob Clark's historic Black Christmas).

This may be the film's chief innovation but it isn't its only innovation. It's anything but original (aside from the obvious influences, the babysitter stalker was done previously in 1971's Fright and the shot of the killer's face emerging from black is actually a Bava specialty and can be seen prominently in the second half of Hatchet for the Honeymoon). However, it's also the pinnacle of a trend which to many hadn't even started yet (I'm more apt to call that the Friday the 13th era, personally)- bringing the nameless killer of Black Christmas, the faceless killer from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the silent teen killer from Bay of Blood together into one creature of the shadows. A figure at first without eyes, then entirely with the face of what I might be tempted to describe as a feral Christopher Reeve. A man who, were he not feral as we learn through the film where we see he's both unkillable and prone to doing an inhuman amount of damage with his bare hands, you might think the eternal boy scout. So... there's more to this film than you might have noticed on first glance. I gather this is Carpenter's mode of operation- to make you think this is just a hokey 70's update of the spooky boogeyman "shape" makes people vanish into the night. Only now they smoke pot, drink, and gab on the phone beforehand.

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