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Slasher review #1: Halloween
Oh Michael, Michael, Michael. You never ever disappoint do you?
What do you mean the remake was horrible?!
Welcome to my first slasher review! I will be reviewing numerous slashers over the next while. And the first one I intend to review is what I consider the first REAL slasher film.
Sure, there were slashers that came before it such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the ever controversial Toolbox Murders and the classic Psycho, but this was the first one that really set the bar and the expectations high for others to come.
I'm going to be reviewing the 1970s John Carpenter classic, Halloween.
First off, this film REEKS of low budget and 70s America, and that's not a bad thing.
The 70s and the early to mid 80s were really the glory, gory days of slasher. You had films like Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw, Maniac, Friday The 13th and, well, Halloween. The bona-fide classics. There have been countless remakes of slasher films recently too, with most being awful (looking at you, Freddy) and others being pretty great, such as My Bloody Valentine 3D.
A Halloween remake was inevitable, and all things considered, it wasn't great. However I liked where they were going with Michael's time in the mental institution, and I enjoyed Malcolm McDowell as Dr. Loomis.
Also, I'm very excited about what the 2018 remake has to offer, as I just read the reviews from the Toronto Film Festival, and an 80 percent on RottenTomatoes is unheard of for most slasher flicks.
However, that's not what I'm going to talk about today.
Halloween tells the tale of Michael Myers, an abused child who on Halloween night, fifteen years prior to the films events, killed his sister in one of the greatest opening scenes in horror cinema and was admitted to Smith's Grove mental institution under the care of Dr. Samuel Loomis.
Fifteen years of Michael not speaking pass, and Michael manages to break out of the institution in order to make his way home. When there, he discovers that his house was sold by Strode Real Estate. This drives Michael to target the daughter of the company's owner, Laurie Strode, and her friends on Halloween night of 1978. A brilliant premise indeed.
Halloween was the first ever horror film that I'm aware of that really made teenagers the victim. It set the trend of teenagers getting killed off by a guy in a mask with a big knife. Whilst many other fantastic films copied this (I.e Friday and My Bloody Valentine), they were never really built tension like Halloween did.
The first couple of shots that you see of fully grown Michael are when he's at the school, and stalking Laurie and her friends on their way home, and if you've seen the film, you'll know how well they build tension and foreboding by just using the score and the shots of Michael.
The signature John Carpenter shooting style really came into its own in this film with its use of wide and long shots, especially the great long shot where Michael is lying on the floor behind a crying Laurie. You think he's dead and the film is over, but then the kicker happens. Michael slowly sits up, causing the audiences of the day to quake in fear of just what will happen to poor Laurie.
Speaking of Laurie, this is the first horror role of the ultimate slasher scream queen, Jamie Lee Curtis. She went on to appear in numerous Halloween sequels and other films such as Terror Train (which I will be reviewing sometime). This is the film that propelled her into horror stardom. Her performance as terrified teen babysitter Laurie strode was believable and extremely realistic, which really appealed to me as most slasher films of the time featured sub-par acting.
Not only is the acting great, but the music is amazing too. The theme tune of course is iconic and it's probably one of the most well known horror theme tunes of all time, but other songs composed by Carpenter himself are also stellar, especially Laurie's theme, which can be seen along with the main theme tune below.
To summarise, Halloween is a milestone and a masterpiece of horror cinema, and should be watched by young and old fans alike.