Halloween (1978), by Cameron J. Czaja

This may be an unpopular opinion for some Catholics, but I love the Halloween season and (almost) everything associated with it. Around this time of year, I’ll go to haunted houses, attend a Halloween party or two, and watch scary movies whether they are good or bad. One scary film that I’m going to be talking about in this review, however, is appropriately tilted Halloween (1978).

The first time I watched Halloween was in 2017, and it was actually the first Halloween film that I saw. I had heard of it, but for some reason I never really attempted to watch it until that time. I guess it was just the timing because I would like to watch season specific films. That’s why I plan on watching the new film Halloween Kills on Halloween night this year, and I thought about doing a review for that film but I wanted to put something out on the title holiday. Instead, I will be talking about the original Halloween. Is a good as it they said it is? As usual let’s find out. 

Set in a fictional town of Haddonfield, Illinois, Halloween starts with a six-year-old boy named Michael Myers (Will Sandin), who in 1963 on Halloween night murders his teenage sister and is then incarcerated at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium. Fifteen years later, Dr. Samuel Loomis (Donald Pleasence) and his associate Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens) arrive at the Sanitarium for Michael’s court hearing where he hopes Michael will be locked up for life. Things don’t go as planned as Michael steals their car and escapes the Sanitarium and heads towards Haddonfield, taking some clothes and a rubber mask to conceal his identity. Meanwhile, high school student Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) drops off a key at Michael Meyers home, which is now abandoned, as her father is trying to sell the place. Michael takes notice of this and throughout the film Michael begins to stalk Laurie throughout the day, killing anyone that gets in his way. In turn, Laurie’s sense of paranoia grows, a situation not helped when she has to babysit on Halloween night.

Full disclosure, the last time I saw Halloween was in 2017, and I’ve been meaning to rewatch it. Like most things in my life, however, I have gotten sidetracked. Despite that though, I can confidently say that my feelings for this film haven’t changed, which are indeed positive. It didn’t become my new favorite horror film or the scariest when I saw it. But after watching some horror films over the years, it’s one for which I have deep appreciation.  

What I really like about Halloween is its originality. You’re probably wondering yourself, “Originality? What originally?”. Well, believe it or not, it pioneered the slasher genre, and is credited as one of the first of its kind. In fact, director John Carpenter was inspired by the movie Psycho (1960) when making this film, which is something I can totally see. Fun fact about the Hitchcock masterpiece: actress Janet Leigh in that film is the mother of Halloween’s Jamie Lee Curtis, which is a pretty cool connection. Speaking of Jamie Lee Curtis, she is someone that completely nailed the role that she was given. She played a likable character that cares for others and does whatever she can to protect them. That right there already earns major points for me.

Given that Halloween was noted as the first original slasher film, it took advantage of that by scaring audiences with the concept of an escaped convict stalking someone. I think what helps is that it’s set in a time when the only means of communication was through a landline telephone. Other than that, you’re pretty much helpless. I may have not lived in the 1970s to fully understand that concept, but watching this film drives home the scariness of a lack of instant communication. 

As Catholics, we believe God works in mysterious ways. I believe that and it’s something that I think about almost every day. I also believe that satan himself works in mysterious ways and that element is present in Halloween. When I looked up this film for references, one of the many themes listed in Halloween is evil itself, and I believe that Michael Myers is a manifestation of evil that’s present throughout the film. Laurie senses this evil presence even though her friends don’t believe her.  As devout Catholics, we should try to be like Laurie and discern devil’s workings when given the chance. The devil likes to attack us when we are at our most vulnerable and while it’s unlikely he will appear as a guy with a rubber mask, he could take the form of anything and we have to be prepared when the time comes. 

As mentioned earlier in this review, Halloween didn’t become my new favorite horror film when I first watched it despite my deep appreciation of the horror elements. If I had any complaints, it would probably be the unnecessary sexual content. I recognize that it’s a staple in a majority of horror movies, but I can do without it. Other than that, I think it is a pretty good horror film that still holds up, though I wouldn’t recommend it if you are squeamish to slasher films. Even I have my limits sometimes but Halloween had a pretty good balance.

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