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Tag: Donald Pleasence

Halloween (1978)

by on Oct.31, 2010, under Daily Review

This is basically the original studio slasher film. There was film prior, many after but this is the entry template which we’ve all grown to know and understand. Watching it by today’s standards it’s difficult to critique as yes, it’s not a perfect film and of cause, we’ve seen this style done a million times better over the past 30 years but as a primary landmark in cinema, this one etches quite a hefty notch.

Mike Myers is a young 6 year old, home with his sister and her boyfriend one dark Halloween evening. Something snaps inside and gives her forty whacks. Some years later (17?) He escapes from a mental institute to continue his work. Back on his old street, Halloween, ready to slash up some more babysitters. Hot on his trail is his shrink, who warns the local cop, ‘this kid has black eyes and the devil inside.’

The tension and frights are perfect here. Allowing Myers to appear across the street, when we look again he’s gone. In a door way, behind a window. It’s that unease of knowing he’s there, and can do anything at any moment. He can make his move, whether people’s backs are turned or not. Killing machine. Also, taking a basic spooky theme, pure Tubular Bells style and repeating it constantly through the film works a treat and in doing so, creates one of the most legendary theme tunes.

Mike Myers is a horror legend. The idea of a huge strong immortal masked killer. You stab him, her gets back up, shoot him, gets back up. You can do anything to these guys and they just come back stronger. I believe Myers was the first, although basically, Myers is the contemporary Frankenstein, although rather than made up out of dead body parts, reanimated, Myers is a consequence of today’s society, a child whose mind has been manipulated and broken beyond the point of repair. It’s this idea, film didn’t need aliens or threats from monsters, vampires or werewolves when it could create it’s own monster from within it’s own society.

Highlights, include Myers twisting his head back and forth as he eyes up his handy-work after he’s pinned a young lad to a door, a good foot or so off the ground. Very creepy scene. Secondly, Myers wearing the sheep and glasses to spook out the babysitter in the bedroom; probably the best scene in the film. Lastly, let me mention the use of adhoc weapons use here. Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) uses a knitting needle and a wire coat hanger as a stabbing device, surely the only film ever to use such weaponry. Genius.

But it’s not perfect. The plot is simple but has some crazy reasoning. Why does he kill babysitters? He’s agree his sister is with her boyfriend whilst she should be looking after him, but it’s a bit extreme, even if he does have the devil inside. Still, no real reason to come back and carry on. The remake deals with all of the plot holes and patches them to perfection, here we have the simple version with holes if you actually care to look, but this shouldn’t really be about looking for faults. It’s the land mark movie for the time, place and genre. John Carpenter took a basic formula, on the back of some small budget affairs which had done well at the box office, and some bigger studio films, mashed together a few formulas and here we have the template.

Jamie Lee Curtis is great here, although watching now, she seems a little old for the role of the babysitter in distress. Donald Pleasance is equally great here, although you can see he’s struggling with the film in places, maybe he wasn’t buying in to the future 100%.

By today’s standards, this one flows well, shot well, but doesn’t have the same oomph any more. I remember watching this when I was 11 years old. Really shouldn’t have done that at that age, but non the less, it was a terrifying experience and one which has stayed with me. In fact, I use to watch it at least once a week on my old Betamax player. Watching the film today, it just cannot compete with the later day remakes and homage that the film has created. In my opinion, the remake is far superior, but we should watch this one for what it is and pay tribute.

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