Written by / 10/31/2015 / No comments / , , , , , , , , ,

REVIEW OF THE JOHN CARPENTER ORIGINAL 'HALLOWEEN'

year: 1978 cast: Jamie Lee Curtis and PJ Soles
"I think it was the little tiny details that made the thing the bigger picture," PJ Soles said in a Cult Film Freak Interview. And she's right on the mark – it's the subtle, haunting, timeless vibe of the original HALLOWEEN that really works.

Totally PJ Soles
First off, let's note that the gory Rob Zombie reboot of HALLOWEEN is more Exploitation than Horror, using a fleshed-out prologue to delve into the abused life of young Michael Myers, wherein the original quickly and effectively maneuvers within the kid's point-of-view until he does something that will, a decade later, make an autumn leafy-lawn suburban neighborhood a bad place to dwell on October 31st...

Halloween Rates: ***1/2
Thus, in an implied Hitchcock fashion, using a groundbreaking smoothly gliding camera carried by a human as opposed to rolling along movie-looking dolly-tracks... giving the impression everyone is being stalked and hunted... the entire chilling experience wastes no time... HALLOWEEN is almost like a sparse kind of modern windy, empty streets Western combined with Film Noir elements, since it... despite the pot smoking and some loose sexual behavior... has a 1950's small town vibe...

In that, some of the acting can be a bit... noticeable, with the exception of friendly cop Charles Cyphers and the always-effective British character actor Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis, the same name as Janet Leigh's "back with the nuts and bolts" boyfriend in PSYCHO...

And of course, the leading scream queen ingenue is Jamie Lee Curtis, daughter of shower-death famous Janet, beginning a career of horror films for the next few years: while sadly, PSYCHO pigeon-holed mom into random work on the big and small screen, daughter was just getting cinematically started (both would appear in Carpenter's fantastic 1980 ghost story, THE FOG).

Tagged as "The Trick is to Stay Alive"
Paranoid as she is, and unlike her airhead girlfriends, Jamie's Laurie Strode is ultimately tough and firm, her main motivation to protect a little boy and girl from a mask-wearing "Shape" that makes HALLOWEEN really work since we only see the formidable antagonist sporadically in the daylight until he's viciously palpable at night.

And instead of picking-off a handful of teens like in countless suburban "body count" horror flicks to follow, all inspired by HALLOWEEN, there's only Nancy Loomis, PJ Soles and one boyfriend in genuine danger.

PJ Soles' last phone call
Basically, no demise is a gratuitous throwaway: every single body count counts... although more victims would have been a nice treat, which would occur in the entertaining 1981 sequel, continuing on the same night and bringing Michael Myers inside a somewhat busy hospital, giving him plenty of folks to haunt and slaughter. '

The ominous soundtrack is written and composed by director Carpenter (as most of us know, he scores his own projects), and like that camera, the keyboard moves things along, while the main score is reminiscent of THE EXORCIST theme... Not bad since both films wield more than just jolty shock value: HALLOWEEN has a cursed vibe built-in from the onset, making even some of the slower, awkward moments ultimately payoff since, like the roaming Dr. Loomis, the audience knows what (never when) is coming around the bend. Making these poor, simple teenage girls HALLOWEEN night a menacing, formidable nightmare... on-screen. "He really enjoyed the collaboration we were giving to him," PJ Soles says of Carpenter. "And we all felt like part of the team." And that aura is another thing that separates the original from the sequels. A tight, palpable, genuine unity. As everything, from living to dying, happens for a reason. Even when a lot more is expected.
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