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          Six year old Michael Myers murders his sister on Halloween night in 1963. He is then taken to a mental hospital where he is studied by Doctor Loomis. Then, in 1978, he escapes from the hospital, and on Halloween night he returns to the town where he murdered his sister, so that he can do harm to a baby-sitter and her friends. Halloween 1978 is the night HE came home. 

"That's when I realized that what was living behind that boys eyes was purely and simply evil."
                - Dr. Loomis

          You can thank William Shatner for Halloween. It is his face, after all, that the infamous Michael Myers wears in the shadows of Halloween, spray painted white and its hair frizzled up in all directions. Michael is always in the shadows, an ever-present force with hints of supernatural evil.
          And that is where the granddaddy of horror film exceeds where all the others fail -- in its suspense, and not in its exploitation of horror. Michael Myers exists in the shadows as a primal fear in Halloween, preying on innocent passersby. And although it has been falsely mistaken to be a bloody slasher film over the years since its release, primarily thanks to its many sequels and uncountable rip-offs, the film features virtually no blood whatsoever. No, the film goes for real scares rather than blood and guts. It's the Psycho of its generation, and it pays its respects to Hitchcock in more than just the literal sense.

          Its imitators and sequels all lost sight of this. Over the years, Halloween has been slowly but surely regarded with less and less respect, simply because its imitators used its original ideas so much they turned into clichés. By today's standards, Halloween may look tame and quite routine, but you must understand that back in 1978 it was anything but average and typical.

          And despite the clichés, I still don't consider it average because John Carpenter knows how to use the camera to his advantage. It's the subtle stuff that counts -- such as the fact that we take the first person view of Michael Myers as a child, while he murders his older sister in cold blood. But after his parents unveil him, we never assume his perspective ever again. Sometimes we think we are, but then we see Michael's outline appear by the camera or far away from the camera. (Though this was ruined when the film was chopped for TV and Michael Myers wasn't always viewable off screen due to standard format.)

          The camera also takes on the eerie presence of a third person -- when Michael attacks Laurie in that coat closet, you're in there with her. When she runs along the street looking for help, Carpenter uses a dolly shot and makes the effect exist as though we are with her. As Michael drives the stolen car through Haddonfield, we're in the back seat with him. We're always with the characters, which is a very subtle but effective technique that Carpenter uses, separating it from the other slasher films. It is as though we become an unmentioned character ourselves. It almost turns the film into a sort of adventure ride.
          The film opens on Halloween night in Haddonfield, Illinois, 1963. A young girl named Judith Myers is murdered by her 6-year-old brother, Michael. Dr. Sam Loomis has been following Michael's case since its birth in 1963. He worked for eight years trying to reach the boy, to connect with him. ("He hasn't spoken a word for fifteen years.") Loomis worked another seven years trying to keep Michael locked up forever, after realizing what existed behind the boy's cold eyes was purely and simply evil. But now, the night of his transportation to a court hearing, Michael has escaped from confinement, and Loomis knows where he's headed: back to Haddonfield.

          Michael does come back to Haddonfield, and there he preys on innocent virginal schoolgirl Laurie Strode, left to baby sit two children on Halloween night. Meanwhile, Dr. Sam Loomis walks around town searching for Michael and saying such fun, clichéd lines as, "It's your funeral!", "He came home," and "Evil has come to your small town, Sheriff."

          One of the many keys to the film is Michael's hinted supernatural power. Now it's common fodder to feature supernatural bad guys in horror flicks, but back then nothing had made a villain into a supernatural mad man incarnate before -- not even Psycho. Michael is the villain who always knows where to hide, where the hero(ine) is hiding, how to position himself in the shadows without being seen, and how to always be a step ahead of everyone else. He can appear to a single person in front of a bush and then disappear behind it, gone from sight forever. The supernatural eeriness of the character was copied in the 1986 thriller The Hitcher, where Rutger Hauer played a homicidal hitchhiker trying to prey on a young boy for no reason whatsoever. Hauer was played as a supernatural character but the film failed to make any sense of anything, wandering back and forth between a mortal foe and an immortal one. It also hinted that there was a purpose behind Hauer's killing spree, which was never delved into.

          Halloween is smarter. Myers has not motive for killing. And instead of constantly featuring him on screen, Michael is revealed slowly and slowly, piece by piece. First the shoulders. Then the back of the head. Then the face from a distance. A bit closer. But he never walks around in the daylight, right in front of the camera, because that would completely diminish the film's creepiness. Even when Myers is seen in the dark towards the end of the film, and finally unmasked for a brief moment, we never really feel that we've seen him. He is still a dark figure.

          All the sequels and rip-offs burned the storyline to the ground. In retrospect, Halloween is very predictable. But it still has a distinctly subtle style of psychological horror that all the other gratuitously violent slasher cash-ins lost. This is the granddaddy of teen slasher movies, and always will be. And after you get past the fact that it started an entire franchise of unwanted motion pictures, you'll realize that there's a lot more to Halloween than meets the eye. It's a cut above the rest, so to speak. 

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          - Donald Pleasence's role as Sam Loomis is named after a character of the same name in Psycho. 

          - Since the movie was actually shot in spring, the crew had to buy paper leaves from a decorator and paint them in the desired autumn colors, then scatter them in the filming locations. To save money, after a scene was filmed, the leaves were collected and reused. 

          - Due to its shoestring budget, the prop department had to use the cheapest mask that they could find in the costume store: a William Shatner mask, from the movie "The Devil's Rain." They later spray-painted the face white, teased out the hair, and reshaped the eyeholes. 

          - Halloween was shot in 21 days in the spring of 1978. Made on a budget of $300,000, it became the highest-grossing independent movie ever made at that time. 

          - The character of Laurie Strode was named after John Carpenter's first girlfriend. 

          - Inside Laurie's bedroom there is a poster of a painting by James Ensor. Ensor was a Belgian expressionist painter who used to portray human figures wearing grotesque masks. 

          - All of the actors wore their own clothes, since there was no money for a costume department. Jamie Lee Curtis went to J.C. Penney for Laurie Strode's wardrobe. She spent less than a hundred dollars for the entire set. 

          - The opening shot appears to be a single, tracking, point of view shot, but there are actually three cuts. The first when the mask goes on, the second and third after the murder has taken place and the shape is exiting the room, this was done to make the point of view appear to move faster. 

          - Carpenter approached Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee to play the Sam Loomis role but both turned him down.

          - Anne Lockhart was John Carpenter's first choice for the role of Laurie Strode.

          - When Lindsey is watching the TV, you here a voice saying "Bolt you doors, lock you windows..." which is the tagline for John Carpenter's movie The Fog

          - Michael Myers' middle name is Audrey. 




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