toadliquor’s review published on Letterboxd:
An escaped mental patient starts killing off people from his old neighborhood.
Over the past few years, I've been seeing an article about Halloween pop up on various websites. I"m not sure of the exact title of the article, but it's something like, "Is Halloween still scary after all these years?". The author of the article got a bunch of people in their twenties who never watched Halloween before, showed them the movie and asked if it was still scary. And as it turns out, less than 50% of the people who watched it thought it was scary (probably an even lower percentage than 1/2). While I'm sure this made a lot of horror fans angry, it sort of made me chuckle, yet sort of sad.
It made me laugh because I highly doubt any of the people who were shown this movie for the first time were actual horror fans. They might go and watch the latest Paranormal Activity when it's released in the theaters, but they don't actively watch horror flicks, let alone have ANY understanding or appreciation of the genre.
The reason it made made me sad is, these people were claiming that "they've seen much scarier movies". And I can understand that to an extent. I'm sure that anyone who's only been exposed to mainstream horror movies over the past several years don't really understand what being scared means. They're probably conditioned to think "Jump Scares = Scary". And that's just so sad! Jump scares are startling... but nothing more. You're not expecting it and It takes you off your guard. Being scared is a not just some quick rush of adrenaline. When you're scared, it unnerves you for a bit of time, it stays with you! Some loud unexpected noise can't do that. It also makes me question how they watched this movie. Did they watch it in a dark room on a big screen, or did they watch it on an Ipad where it's next to impossible to fully immerse yourself into the picture? I'm thinking the latter. But enough of that shitty article...
Halloween isn't just some regular old, run of the mill, horror movie. Halloween is one of the few "game changing" movies of the genre. Movies that I would give this title to are Psycho, Night of the Living Dead, Halloween, and Scream. Each of these movies completely changed the genre and how we think about it. Without Halloween, it'd be hard to imagine what 80's horror would look like. While it was far from the first slasher movie ever made, it absolutely popularized the genre and showed Hollywood just how much money horror films could generate. I'm sure there's some contratian asshole out there who would say that Black Christmas and Peeping Tom were more influential than Halloween and Psycho just because they came out first. They were both good movies, but I'm not aware of the slew of slasher movies from 1974 to 1978 that Black Christmas spawned. Also Halloween made 70 million dollars! And no, that's not world wide box office. Nobody gave a fuck about world wide box office back in the 70's, nor does that number include rentals or VHS sales. That's what it made in the movie theaters. I'm not sure how much money Black Christmas made, but I know it didn't come nowhere close to THAT much money, not many movies did no matter what the genre. And as far as Peeping Tom goes... I don't give a fuck what Scream 4 says about it, it didn't get released in the US till 1962, and when it was released, it was a complete box office flop!
And no, I'm not giving Halloween this Holy type status because it was some childhood favorite of minr. I liked the movie well enough as a kid, but never would I say it's one of my favorite horror movies then or now. And I'm definitely not a fan of the Halloween franchise. I love the original and part 3, part 2 is average at best, and the rest of the franchise sucks ass. But I have a huge amount of respect and gratitude for the original Halloween for it's impact and influence on the genre. Also because, it's a really, really effective movie!
Halloween isn't some revolutionary movie as far as plot goes. It's probably as basic as a movie can get. A kid freaks out and kills his sister. He's sent off to a mental ward then he breaks out 15 years later and starts killing people again. There's no intricate back story as to why, or what made him do any of this. Which is probably what makes the movie as memorable as it is. When the question arises in the movie, Donald Pleasance gives a short, but sweet monologue that pretty much states that Michael is just pure evil. This is what makes the movie work! You don't know why he's doing it! It forces the viewer to use their imagination. And the imagination is way more powerful than any film sequence could ever be. Looking back, I'm sure someone would start discussing the fact that he wanted to kill Laurie Strode because she was a relative, blah, blah, blah... but that horse shit reasoning didn't start till Halloween 4 and it's still one of the lamest storylines in any horror franchise.
The most remarkable thing about Halloween has to be the score. The score, like the movie, is very basic and stripped down, but holy fuck is it some of the eeriest, bone chilling music used in any movie! John Carpenter has even admitted at the movies first screening, It was screened without any score attached to the movie, and most people hated the flick or were bored to death by it, but once the score was added, it changed the entire tone of the movie.
One thing I never understood about this movie is, where the hell did Michael learn to drive? Not that driving is that difficult, but still.
Also, one of the oddest things is, it seems John Carpenter, when writing the score of this movie, subliminally ripped off The Brady Bunch. In the opening POV shot, Michael's watching his sister make out with her boyfriend, and they head up stairs. He then looks up at her bedroom window and sees her lights go off. At that same time you hear a little riff of music being played. And that exact riff is the same riff played through the episode where the Brady's go to Hawaii and find the cursed tiki idol. here's the riff in question www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwvDNpiKUj0
I'm not saying Carpenter blatantly ripped off Sherwood Schwartz, but it's still pretty interesting.