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Halloween Movie Review

carpenter john horror curtis

Halloween, made on a budget of $300,000, brought in over $47 million in boxoffice receipts, which stunned the motion picture industry. It made John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis famous and it became a model for countless other horror directors, not all of whom actually understood why Halloween quickened viewer's pulses. Carpenter recognized what Alfred Hitchcock, another great director in the horror genre, learned over 50 years before. When you force an audience to pay attention to a myriad of details in a suspenseful narrative where they know something terrible WILL occur, the violence actually RELIEVES their built-up tensions. Carpenter, who also wrote the effective, monotonous score, showed a fairly dull town on a fairly dull day. But we know from the prologue that an evil killer will return on Halloween night. He will kill because that's what he does; there's no sociological sympathy wasted on HIM—that's reserved for resourceful babysitter Laurie Strode, played by Curtis. My first impression of this second-generation actress, then 19, is that she has great presence and confidence, plus a low, forceful voice, PLUS a don't-mess-with-me veneer that makes her far more intriguing than the traditional squishy monster bait. The casting of Donald Pleasence as Dr. Samuel Loomis adds the resonance of countless prior horror classics to this groundbreaking 1978 entry in the genre. Moreover, the psychological landscape of Halloween is dominated by the indomitability of the killer. Later villains would become invincible to a ridiculous degree: five bullets and a burial service and their tickers are STILL ticking through multiple sequels. But Halloween plays it fair and square all the way through. It scares us because John Carpenter is a genius at what he does—scrambling our emotions for 93 minutes and always making us want to come back for more. Babysitter Advisory: Don't watch this one alone!

1978 (R) 93m/C Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, Nancy Loomis, P.J. Soles, Charles Cyphers, Kyle Richards, Brian Andrews, John Michael Graham, Nancy Stephens, Arthur Malet, Mickey Yablans, Brent Le Page, Adam Hollander, Robert Phalen, Sandy Johnson, David Kyle, Nick Castle; D: John Carpenter; W: John Carpenter, Debra Hill; C: Dean Cundey; M: John Carpenter. VHS, LV

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