Jamie Lee Curtis
Trivia Michael Myers' mask is actually a Captain Kirk mask, painted white.
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22nd Mar 04
A masked killer, seemingly motiveless, murders a bunch of teenagers in a quiet suburb on Halloween night...
The opening of Halloween is a work of genius and pivots around the use of the Panaglide camera(known these days as Steadicam). A technical device like this, combined with the menacing atmosphere serves to make us uneasy voyeurs in Carpenter's low-budget nightmare. Orson Welles used the same technique in Touch of Evil, although the opening shot in that film looks technically more impressive. This lack of cutting also echoes another key influence on Carpenter - Alfred Hitchcock. On one film in particular, Hitch was so obsessed with cutting (or lack of it) that he shot the film with the appearance of being completely unedited. It was called 'Rope' and was made in the 50's. Synopsis? Two gay guys knock-off a 'mate' just for kicks, put him in the book-chest, then throw a party in their apartment with the dead guy's parents in attendance. Will they be found out? Can they keep their cool? Watch it and find out!
Halloween has great casting. Donald Pleasance does a splendid job at bringing the Sam Loomis character to life. It is well known that the role had been offered to Christopher Lee as well as Peter Cushing, both of whom turned it down. Pleasance accepted the role as a result of his daughters pestering him to work with that young genius who had made Assault on Precinct 13. Pleasance is unforgettable in this role for his rants about Michael “The evil! The evil is out!” and “You don’t understand what you’re dealing with here!” – classic stuff. Needless to say, he returns in the sequel(s) and continues much in the same vein - "I shot him 6 times!" over and over again.
Jamie Lee Curtis is on fine form as the innocent Laurie, and this was before she was monkickered a 'scream queen'. Its fair to say that she earned the title in Halloween though – she doesn’t stop screaming in the final 20 minutes! The rest of the features some Carpenter regulars such as Charles Cyphers and Nancy Loomis - always a welcome sight, but sadly no Tom Atkins or good old George 'Buck' Flower on this occasion...
It'll be no suprise to you that the main action in this film takes place on Halloween night, and Carpenter uses every inch of that mega-wide frame to capture each available space from where the face of Shatner may emerge. The use of widescreen in Halloween is truly groundbreaking. Before Halloween, the use of the this frame was limited to pictures with much larger budgets which, in turn, means no (or very, very few) horror pictures. With Halloween, it is almost as if Carpenter is writing a textbook of widescreen technique into the very film, with an obvious understanding of spacial dynamics and visual rhythm.
Carpenter himself composed, performed and arranged the music for Halloween, as he does for most of his films. The main motif is based upon a 5/4 time signature (which his father taught him on a set of bongos) and is frighteningly insistent throughout the film. Carpenter not only uses the music, but sound itself, to menacing effect. When the Shape enters the frame, it is often accompanied by an electronic shrieking effect on the soundtrack. This element lends the finished film an incredibly robust audio/visual balance.
Another wonderful thing about Halloween is the way in which all the violence and most of the real terror is sustained until the last reel. After the opening murder, all we get is messy-popcorn jumps and scares; the classic ‘false alarm’ frights we know Carpenter for.
Carpenter also devised and set the standards for the 'RULES OF THE SLASHER MOVIE', which, if you're familiar with Scream and the recent influx of (dare I say it) 'postmodern' slasher movies has been so often copied in the years after Halloween. If it weren’t for Halloween, there would’ve been no Friday the 13th, no Nightmare on Elm Street. That’s not to say that Halloween was the first slasher film – Mario Bava did it earlier with bay of Blood, as had Bob Clark with Black Christmas. Essentially though, it was the panache of Carpenter’s film which set it apart from these movies and placed it in a higher pantheon.
This is an absolute classic of modern cinema and set the blueprint for horror style for years to come, which is why we give Halloween a must-see white hot 5 star rating.
Versions There is also an extended version shot for American cable TV.