Halloween: Making Men Named Michael Myers Hate Their Lives Since 1978

Yes, I know, it's Halloween and I've reviewing Halloween, how cheap and obvious is that?  But hey, it is totally on the list, so I'm not going to miss out on the opportunity.

So there.

Halloween is a classic slasher film from 1978, starring Scream Queen Jamie Lee Curtis, which has earned a position at #291 on our list, and ruined many a teenage babysitter's night.

Want to know a secret?  Until this very Halloween, my friends, I had never seen the movie Halloween.

I know.  I know.

The story begins in 1963, where Judy Myers is whoring it up with her boyfriend and, as a result, is brutally murdered by her little brother Michael.  He spends the next fifteen years playing possum in a psychiatric facility, pretending to be catatonic when he's really just biding his time.  As usual, his psychiatrist Dr Sam Loomis (I see what you did there, John Carpenter.  Very clever) is the Sole Voice of Reason, insisting that Michael is dangerous and should not be released under any circumstances.  And as usual, no one will listen to him.  Even after Michael sets a bunch of psych patients loose, steals a car, and runs away from the hospital.  It's nice to have colleagues that respect you and listen to your valuable insight, eh Doc?

Meanwhile, sweet (read: virginal) Laurie is busy preparing to spend her Halloween babysitting some neighborhood kids.  She is mildly creeped by the random guy who keeps following her, but doesn't really do anything about it.  Because that's definitely not something you should tell an adult about, right kids?  After all, it's not like your best friend's dad is a police officer or anything like that, right?  Oh wait.

Michael continues his casual stalking, that is until Laurie's friend Annie sends her babysitting charge over to Laurie's so that she can have some alone time with her boyfriend.  Apparently Michael is really looking out for that little kid, because he strangles Annie and stabs her to death.

Meanwhile, another friend Lynda shows up at Annie's house with her boyfriend hoping to find, I'm guessing, a queen sized bed and some Barry White albums or something.  Instead finding an empty house, they start going at it on the living room couch.  I may not have seen this movie before, but I feel like I have a good grasp on where this is going.

Yup, Michael Myers kills them both horribly.  This is all very exciting, don't get me wrong, but the story really picks up when Laurie comes over the house to check on her friends.  She finds them all dead and stuffed in various places in the bedroom that will produce maximum shock effect, and is chased by a knife-wielding maniac.  From there on out it's a race to the finish, with Michael chasing her back to the house she was babysitting at.  She stabs him a few times, but this guy is like an Energizer bunny, and it has little to no effect on him.  Finally she is rescued by Dr Loomis, who shoots Michael several times, causing him to fall out of a second story window.  Of course, this only stops Michael momentarily, as when he goes over to look out the window again, Michael is already gone.  Leaving the window open for future homicidal adventures and/or a frankly absurd amount of sequels.

Random Musings:

  • Classic music is CLASSIC.

  • Is this the earliest known entry in the Slutty Teens Must Die trope?  I mean, we're about a minute and a half into the film and there's already a promiscuous minor getting cut up.

  • But seriously, who sits at a vanity brushing their hair in their knickers?  Put some clothes on, child!

  • Because I really needed to have one more reason to be distrustful of clowns.

  • It's kind of refreshing that in this movie, there's not really much of a question of who the murderer is.  We pretty much know that already.  It's not about who's killing people, it's about why, and how the hell are they going to get away from him.

  • Her friends are kind of assholes.  They just mock her and tell her she's lame and take advantage of her clothes.  I'm sort of not really upset that one or both of them will undoubtedly be horribly murdered by the end of the movie.

  • Michael Myers, you can kill as many fictional teen floozies as you want, but you sure as shit better stay away from the fictional Wallace dog.  Because that, ese, is when you and I will have a problem.

  • Why is the laundry room in a completely separate building from the rest of the house?  Is that common?

  • "Alright, I'll stay with you on the off chance that you're right.  And if you are right, damn you for letting him go."  Could you have delivered that in a more monotone voice?  I mean, Donald Pleasence is really committing to the material, and that's what you give him?

  • Oh shit, someone in a horror film just said I'll be right back.  Everyone do a shot!

  • So not to put too fine a point on this, but how does Michael Myers, a guy who has spent the last 15 years of his life pretending to be catatonic, have the strength to lift a 17 year old by the neck using only his left arm?

  • Does Laurie seriously have knitting in her purse?  This girl is seventeen going on eighty three.  Edit:  Nevermind, apparently those were Chekhov's Knitting Needles.  Carry on.

  • Jesus, Jamie Lee Curtis has a set of lungs on her, doesn't she?

  • I LOVE the very end of the film, where they're showing all the rooms and the houses with Michael Myers breathing and the creepy music.  It's like the director saying, "And you're not safe here, and you're not safe here, and you're not safe here..."

As a rule, I tend to classify slasher films less as movies that actually scare me, and more as movies that are fun to watch in the middle of the night with the lights off.  Keeping that criteria in mind, Halloween is an exciting movie with a cool bad guy and some real moments of tension.

The last twenty minutes of the film really elevate it above the likes of Prom Night (yes, I know, I've seen the original Prom Night but I haven't seen Halloween, what's wrong with me) and puts it on a whole 'nother level. There are some genuinely tense moments, starting from the point where Laurie finds all of her friends dead, to the part where Tommy slowly walks to the front door to let Laurie in, all the way through Laurie's battle with Michael.

It's difficult to overstate the impact that this film had on the slasher genre.  The things that we call tropes of the horror genre are started here.  I mean, without Halloween, I never would have known that you absolutely have to make sure the killer's dead.  And even if you check, chances are he's still probably not dead.  Cause God knows those fuckers have like thirteen and a half lives.  We wouldn't have things like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer and, dare I say it, Scary Movie without Halloween.  And you can show me a world without Scary Movie, ok, just don't ask me to live there.  Bottom line, Halloween makes the slasher genre what it is today, and yes, it is a perfect movie to watch on Halloween.

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Anonymous said...

■Is this the earliest known entry in the Slutty Teens Must Die trope?

I do believe so!

But even back in the days of Jamie Lee's mother, Janet, people were speculating that the female victim (in this case in Psycho) was being punished for her lifestyle choices...

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