Danny B’s review published on Letterboxd:
John Carpenter's Halloween is always one that impresses me. At its core its a very simplistic and basic slasher, but one that works far better than most do. I finally watched all the sequels I'd never seen before last year and returning to the original before the release of the "Official" sequel this month was an interesting experience.
The sequels are plagued in that way a lot of horror film franchises are, it tries to explain the villain. Giving him an overly convoluted back story that completely destroys the mystery behind them. I'm a little fuzzy on what happened in the sequels, but if I remember right, it was something to do with a cult? I'm having trouble remembering, but I know I hated whatever they tried to do.
Thankfully, despite the awful sequels, Halloween still holds up. Michael Myers is an absolute force of nature. A completely psychotic monster incapable of any empathy or remorse. He never speaks and his motivations are unclear, aside from his desire to kill whatever gets in his way. From the effective POV opening of Michael as a child as he stabs his sister to death is still one of the best openings to a horror film ever. It's brutal and unsettling. Made worse by the reveal that the person behind these acts is a small child. It's a ballsy move and one that still really works.
The use of POV shots really works. As Michael doesn't say anything, we're put in his shoes, only hearing and seeing what he sees. It's dark and unsettling, but really creates an atmosphere. One that the sequels failed to capture. Carpenter's direction really brings things alive. It's only 90 minutes, things go very quickly, but everything is set-up neatly and the stakes are all set from the get-go.
Donald Pleasance's Dr. Loomis let's the viewer know what Michael is like. There's a lot of unspoken history between Loomis and Michael. You know he'd spent years of his life ensuring that Michael reminds locked up, as he knows what he is capable of and stops at nothing to see him captured or killed. It's a performance of unexpected gravitas and easily the strongest the film had to offer.
That's not to say the performances are bad, but aside from Pleasance and Jamie Lee Curtis, everyone else is, well... not great... Most of Michael's fodder are just annoying teens that you sort of want to see die. It's a genre formula that works, but I couldn't help but feel I'd care a bit more if I'd invested a little more time in this characters.
I also miss when films actually had iconic theme songs and the Halloween film is absolute gold. I always forget Carpenter was also the composer, fair play to him to creating one of the most iconic theme songs of film history. Modern films really need to step up their game and make some memorable theme songs for there films. Honestly, can you name the last film that actually had a memorable theme that will be remembered in time like they used to?
In terms of villain design, Michael Myers is still one of simplicity that still delivers an unsettling feel to this day. A completely white and faceless mask that does little to hide the fact there is something behind it with absolutely no one. You all know the history behind Myers mask, but it's still great to see. Despite getting an 18 rating, I'm always taken back by just how tame Michael's kills are too, it's more the manner of how callous and methodical Michael is with his killing, rather than going for grotesque kills, it instead goes for pretty straight forward strangles and stabbings that feel more real. While it's fun, I do sort of hate the horror franchise mentality of having one up the previous film by getting more and more absurd with each film, I much prefer the simplicity of the original.
Halloween's Blu-ray release in the UK was one I was always pretty fond of, it was one of the first Blu-rays I owned in fact, so that may have had an impact, but this new 4K UHD transfer is pretty damn good. There is so much more detail in the night scenes and it still retains a natural amount of grain. I was a little worried about this transfer going in, but it looks damn good.
Halloween is a definitive slasher, one that still holds up today, it's not adverse to cliches you've seen today, but you gotta remember it was one of the first to make these dents in the genre. It's a stripped back, bare bones and iconic slasher. The best of the series by far.