One of the key elements is John Carpenter's use of slow camera movements (approaches, circles) which give us the feeling to be in a voyeuristic position. In this respect the first seven minutes - including the draw shot with the pumpkin during the main title sequence - are brillant because they establish an atmosphere of fear which is constantly retained during the whole film. Also masterly is the design of ...
Rewatch ~ Now, I did like this more than I did the first time, but... Although I love Carpenter's other works and think that Halloween has more artistic value (such as in terms of cinematography and tension building) than, let's say, Friday the 13th series, I don't necessarily think it's more fun. As with other iconic horror characters, Myers appeals to me as an idea/concept, but the movies he appears in... Meh.
3.6 stars. Mercilessly assured. Those POV shots never put a foot wrong. Seedier, stagier and stranger than I had expected. I don't know whether the gender politics are only troubling from the outside looking in after decades of more overtly lurid slashers. Mostly this is a film of silent stalking. At least one of the stars is, of course, for the soundtrack alone. Lindsay is chill.
As much as I understand the cult status that surrounds this film as it's one of the pioneers of the 'slasher', I really don't feel like this has aged well at all. The plot is pretty much non-existant, the acting is mediocre and there's no character development. The only really tense moments are before Annie is murdered or when Meyers is trying to get Laurie. That or maybe Carpenter simply isn't for me.
Looking back at the slasher movies from the late 70s and 80s, Jamie Lee Curtis distincts herself by acting more like a fearless Ripley from Alien than the dumb blonde scream queens of that time. She deserves better than being remembered as Dean Munsch by this generation.
Rewatch, 40th-anniversary screening. It’s hardly Carpenter’s best movie but seeing it projected you get much better sense of how the film exploits photography and sound, in-focus v. out-of-focus, music and stings, and how innovative it must have been in 1978. The film is at its best (and scariest) though when it merely regards The Shape as a phenomenon, in the distance, in the shadows, watching and waiting.
The first 10-minutes and the last 15-minute bookends are brilliantly designed, with supreme suspense and tension. Yet, Halloween missteps a lot too, like in the daytime stalking scenes. A character that is referred to as the 'bogeyman' should never have been glimpsed in the daylight, and certainly not been given the image of standing next to hung laundry or hiding behind a bedsheet/bushes. It kinda kills the effect.
Loved the soundtrack. Loved the time and patience that the killer - and director - took between each victim... films about serial killers just don't do this anymore. Loved Jamie Lee Curtis as the smart, prude and brave Laurie Strode. Loved this nightmare unleashed on a very typical and friendly neighbourhood. It hasn't aged badly at all. Also, one of the most memorable opening scenes.
As far as horror films go, this one might be the most deserving of the phrase, "often imitated, never duplicated." This is a masterful piece of terror with relentless suspense, a rich (yet still mysterious) villain, distinctive and likable protagonists, a chilling sound design and score, and brilliant imagery that doesn't merely rely on gore to be terrifying. It's effective in the ways other slashers simply aren't.
So I finally watched John Carpenter's Halloween and good golly, was it great! From the very get go, the film is all about slowly creating tension. The claustrophobic camera angles, the teasing scene blocking, along with the patient editing and the iconic score by Carpenter himself, everything lends itself into building a very teeth-grinding scenario that was truly believable, even by today's standards.