...the John Carpenter classic and iconic 1978 horror film. I do love the autumnal holiday (I mean, duh, I write horror and All Hallows Eve is my Xmas), but for my money and since I was in my early 20s, the simply yet perfectly made slasher flick has been my all time favorite horror movie.
Horror has been a big part of my life since then, but I wasn't always a horror fan. At least with books, anyway. I'd written about this to a degree in previous blog posts, but that darkly magical attraction/addiction began when I was 18, in 1985-86, when I bought my first Stephen King novel PET SEMATARY and devoured it (followed by PHANTOMS by Dean Koontz or Dean R. Koontz as he went by back then, when he had the balding pate and mustache). I'd found my genre to read and write and was hooked for life.
As a kid growing up in Southwestern coastal Florida, I loved the Saturday morning Creature Feature show on Channel 44 WTOG hosted by the legendary Dr. Paul Bearer, which showed many old classic horror films, from the early black & whites to those in garish Technicolor. Looking back now, it seemed I was destined to discover my beloved spooky-scary genre eventually.
But my love for the Halloween (and ultimately, the entire film franchise) began, ironically, right around when Halloween 4 came out. I'd seen that one in the theater along with Halloween 5 when it came out. But while I'd been aware of the first film, I'd totally became enraptured with it on Halloween night 1987. I was dating my first serious girlfriend back then. We'd visited with her aunt and helped put up cheap Halloween decorations and generally just goofing around trying to spook out one another. Then she and I came back to my parents' house and relaxed in the living room watching the original Halloween movie. I loved it and have seen it dozens of times since then. I'd also become complete fan of John Carpenter's oeuvre of horror. From his scifi horror remake THE THING to THE FOG and PRINCE OF DARKNESS, along with his other films, there's no better creator of iconic 80s horror cinema.
However, it all started with that first movie. Arguably, the reigning king of what became known as the slasher film. Granted, and rightly so, many would claim the Hitchcock's classic PSYCHO was the first true slasher film, but I contend that it really began in the late 70s and exploded in the 1980s. And Halloween was and is the best and most original, enduring for decades and has even seen a resurgence with the pseudo-rebooted franchise (and admittedly, just a bit annoying to completely discount everything as canon after the first movie, but I understand why the new film producers/writers/directors did that. I still love the franchise living on and drawing in newer younger fans).
The decade of decadence saw a glut of slasher flicks from the Friday the 13th series to nightmarish Freddy Krueger with his finger blade glove, the psycho-doll Chucky, among others. Cannibalistic inbred rednecks with revving chainsaws and irradiated kill-crazy bloodthirsty mutants, oh my!
No other horror film villain compares to the silent and unstoppable menace of The Shape aka Michael Myers. In my opinion. What started out as a low budget film with the title THE BABYSITTER MURDERS, once the film producer suggested changing it to HALLOWEEN (setting it of course on that night), a movie horror icon was born.
So why do I believe the original Halloween film & Michael Myers is the best ever? Firstly, the fact that the movie takes place on All Hallows Eve is solely reason enough. It's the perfect setting for a horror movie. The concept of Michael Myers, the rather common even bland name, which soon would become synonymous with teenage 80s horror. The plain mask, courtesy of Capt Kirk, with the bleached-out white rubber face, was pure brilliance if necessary for a low budget film. (If you haven't, Google how the film was made or catch the numerous YouTube videos or documentaries. Much of what was done, particularly the opening scene was groundbreaking for its time). And if you look into the highly collectible (and expensive) paperback novelization by Curtis Richards, published shortly after the film was released, you'll find a lot of added history and more of a supernatural explanation to why the child Michael Myers became the knife-wielding killer who murdered his older sister on Halloween night. The horror website Bloody Disgusting published a cool, in depth article on this a few years ago:
However, it wasn't until the inevitable sequel, HALLOWEEN II, that the idea of making the Final Girl, Laurie Strode, Michael's sister and the reason for his obsessively murderous intent, that things became very intriguing. This was even taken a step further in 4 and 5 with Laurie's daughter (and Michael's niece), Jamie, becoming The Shape's newest target. In 4, it was briefly explained that Strode died in a supposed car accident, leaving young Jamie motherless (this was written into the script since Jamie Lee Curtis didn't want to do another sequel). The character's name was an homage of sorts to the actress. Of course many fans wanted Ms Strode back and got their wish eventually in HALLOWEEN H20 and to a lesser degree, HALLOWEEN RESURRECTION (my least favorite franchise film). Even HALLOWEEN 6 THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS had its moments, mostly bringing back Tommy Doyle (played by a young Paul Rudd) and a deadly Celtic cult tied to Myers, which interestingly ties loosely into the original film's novelization.
I'll be honest with you. And I didn't always feel this way, but the older I've gotten and the numerous times I've watched these films, the more I think they could've just avoided the somewhat implausible familial connection as an explanation for his relentless bloodlust. Why as such an uber Halloween fan do I say this? Because in 1963, when 6 years old Myers inexplicably kills his teenage sister in her room on Halloween night, his parents did...what exactly? In their grief and loss, decide to have another child right away? Think about it. Then in 1978, 15 years later when Halloween the movie begins and we're introduced to Laurie, the slightly shy and bookish high school student. The timing is a little off, if I'm being honest. Or did Michael's parents divorce after the horrible tragedy in '63, one or both remarry and either another child is conceived soon or they gain a very young stepdaughter? It's just one of those loose ends that's never really explained after the sister angle reveal in the sequel. Personally, they could've just skipped the sister connection altogether and kept Laurie as the "one who got away" or survived Michael's night of terror, the original Final Girl, if you will...and thus, spurring his undying bloodlust.
With 2018's self-titled reboot of sorts, given the thumbs up from Carpenter as creative consultant, we see everything after the first film discarded, including the sister connection. HALLOWEEN KILLS, delayed til October 2021 due to the pandemic, and the final film, HALLOWEEN ENDS, will be anxiously awaited by us die-hard fans, for sure. I'd be remiss in not mentioning the Rob Zombie remake of the first two films. As a fan of both his music and films, I enjoyed his revisionist take and more psychological approach, though brutally violent...which given it was an RZ flick was to be expected. And seeing a much older Danielle Harris, who played Jamie in 4 and 5, portraying Annie, was a nice touch. However the followup wasn't as good, even with the always amazing Malcolm McDowell playing Dr Sam Loomis.
Which leads me to my last argument or point concerning why HALLOWEEN rocks, has stood the test of time as one of horror's greatest most iconic movies, and has been my personal alltime favorite: Sam Loomis.
Dr Loomis with his indefatigable and dogged pursuit of his psychopathic young patient of 15 years, the ever present tan trench coat (and his legally registered handgun), makes the perfect addition to this classic slasher horror triumvirate. While he's sorely missed in the latest installment (he'd be much too old anyway, let alone still living), Loomis was the penultimate boy (or man, in this case) who cried wolf. No one listened to him until it was too late. And he has some of the best dialogue or memorable lines in horror film history, most notably his conversation with Sheriff Brackett while they search the Myers' house. Dr Loomis tells the sheriff, "He had the blackest eyes...the Devil's eyes." That line gives me chills almost every single time.
Speaking of goosebumps, has their ever been a more recognizable and chillingly brilliant theme music than what John Carpenter composed himself for his movie all those years ago? I don't think so.
I'd also be remiss in not mentioning the influence this film series has had on horror and horror films. For example, when it seemed like horror in general had been in a rut during the mid 90s, along came a new slasher film called SCREAM from Wes Craven. Part homage, part darkly funny but certainly bloody, SCREAM elevated what a good slasher flick could really be. It exploded, revitalized public interest in horror and slashers, spawned several sequels and is rumored to return in the near future with a new feature film installment. In the original film, during the infamous party sequence, a tv can be seen playing HALLOWEEN, the director's nod to this groundbreaking low budget slasher film.
So that's it, folks. There's been a wealth of HALLOWEEN gruesome goodness over the years to keep us die-hard fans happy, from collectible merchandise, clothing (my favorite sites for those are Fright Rags, Terror Threads and Gutter Garb...quality product with great customer service!), and several books such as anthology fan fiction to the sometimes pricey out of print novelizations and more! Long live HALLOWEEN...
P.S. for those interested, I wrote a short piece of HALLOWEEN fan fiction called "Halloween: The Beginning" and posted it on my blog many years ago. You can find it here: