It's no secret. This one has become my "must-see" Halloween tradition every year and holds a special place in my heart. Nowadays, people can choose to use it as a starting point for a forked path. One path will bring you through the originals, continuing with 'Halloween II' ('81) and concluding with 'Resurrection.' But now a whole new path has been set with 2018's 'Halloween,' meant to be a direct real-time sequel to the 1978 classic, set 40 years later, continuing with 'Kills' and concluding with 'Ends.'
With whichever timeline you wanna follow, however, one can't take away the classic element of 1978's 'Halloween,' a movie that is arguably the birth of the slasher craze of the 80s. It's another one someone can appreciate for a lot of what happened behind the scenes during its conception and creation, but more than that, it's a wonderful example of how, when it comes to horror, a lot of the time, less is more. Would you believe there's actually no blood in this movie? No, seriously, really watch it!
The film opens with a bit of background on our killer with a great one-shot which shows Michael Myers' point of view as he does away with his older sister, only to have his parents come home and eventually be put into a mental hospital where he'd spend the rest of his days under the care of Dr. Samuel Loomis (Donald Pleasance). That is, until Halloween night, 1978, when he makes his escape and returns home to Haddonfield, Illinois, only to stalk three teenage babysitters: Annie Brackett (Nancy Kyes), Lynda Van der Klock (P.J. Soles) and perhaps the most popular "final girl" of all time, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis).
Meanwhile, Loomis also comes back to town, on the lookout for Michael, in an attempt to stop him. But it turns out Michael's pretty good at keeping himself hidden. I mean, it's a pretty basic plot altogether, but it's in the delivery of the filmmaking that all of the charm comes from for this movie. Starting with dialogue, although much of it may be seen as cheesy nowadays (and we know I love my horror cheese), some of the delivery from Loomis is so well-done it has become famous, namely his speech about working with Michael.
Jamie Lee Curtis is the other major actor here, even though this film introduced her to the masses. There is something about her portrayal of the perfect, smart, responsible girl next door type that's damn near perfect and would set the golden standard for further "final girls." In contrast, Nick Castle's portrayal of Michael Myers here (AKA "The Shape") is nothing short of creepy, especially with his heavy breathing sending chills down the viewer's spine. He may not be the most intimidating presence yet, but the way this movie does creepy is pretty much gold.
Further to something like creepy, perhaps perverse breathing from behind a slightly tweaked William Shatner mask, the way the film works with lighting is brilliant. The shadows do a good job of hiding the fact that there's no blood here while our imagination puts the blood there. And I don't even need to mention the famous "emerging from the shadows" scene, which is equivalent to our eyes adjusting to the dark. And as far as the overall atmosphere compared to the holiday, it all feels pretty much "right," even if things like falling leaves were done with machines.
There's really nothing that I can say about 'Halloween' that hasn't been said before. The film is an undeniable horror classic on so many different levels. One can look at it as the film that "started it all" when it comes to the 80s slasher craze, and even then, the film looked to the real original slasher, 'Psycho' to get Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh's daughter, to play the lead role here. It's nothing short of admirable in its execution, and it's a good way to look back on the lost art that once was suspenseful slasher horror. It was an era where imagination was necessary and could scare us much more than something physical on screen.