I'm always amazed with Halloween. Here's a film that I could easily write about from memory, yet I was glad to give it another viewing for this retrospective. I found myself pulled into it yet again. I wrote about Halloween a couple years ago for the great blog Wonders in the Dark as a part of their Horror countdown. My dilemma then revolved around two assignments I had: write about Alien and write about Halloween (the two are natural companions, actually, despite the former taking in place in space). What does one write about such films? How does one approach a film that has been written about ad nauseam? I feared that anything I wrote would sound silly since so many better than me have covered those great films. What was there left to say? Well, the truth is nothing. There’s nothing left to say about a lot of films, but that doesn’t mean we are less thrilled by them and that we cease talking about them. So, let’s talk about John Carpenter’s magnum opus Halloween.
As any horror fan knows by now, Carpenter borrowed most of what’s famous in Halloween from sources ranging from the obvious (Hitchcock, the most cribbed man when it comes to terror) to the unheralded (Bob Clark, director of Black Christmas), but never once does his film feel like a mere copycat, an aping of better material. No, Halloween even today some 30 years later, still feels fresh and the product of a true auteur—something that is wholly “A John Carpenter Film.” As you will see me say countless time, Halloween has never been the seminal, brilliant film that it is because it could lay claim to firsties. For me, the film is still effective (not necessarily scary, but it’s damn sure effective), and it’s still fun to watch and talk about because of how it takes its influences and creates the quintessential and perfect slasher film out of them. It’s one of my favorite films, regardless of genre; it’s the king of a subgenre that I unabashedly love. So allow me to ask for your forgiveness now since I’m about to wax poetic (and no doubt ramble) for the next, oh, 4,000 words or so.
That’s from Tim’s review of Halloween, and he says it better than I could ever hope to. So, what is it then that still makes Halloween so watchable, so effective, and so perfect? What I love about Halloween really boils down to what can be ascertained from these three images:
Let’s start with the first image: From the onset, Halloween is an example of minimalism executed to perfection. The opening credits is nothing much — just a slow zoom on a jack-o-lantern against a black backdrop, and the title of the film. But it’s that score. There’s just something about its odd rhythms that seems completely distressing; it really gets under your skin.
Therefore, Halloween never establishes that his name is Michael Myers or that he and Judith are siblings. When the parents come home, the father says "Michael?" and lifts off his mask, but there's no indication that he's their son. It would be totally reasonable to assume they were Judith's parents. Or even Michael's picking him up.
You could actually (and I heard the original audience did) watch Halloween as if Michael isn't a member of the Myers family at all, but rather, a child that Judith was supposed to be babysitting.
Which would certainly fit in with his eagerness to stalk BABYSITTERS (not his other sister) -- that he's drawn to killing Laurie when she drops off the key because she's with Tommy and talking about the plans for that night.”