Stars: Jamie Lee Curtis, Tony Moran Director: John Carpenter
Over a decade after the six-year-old Michael Myers (Moran) murdered his sister on Halloween night, he escapes from the asylum in which he has spent his subsequent life and returns to his home town of Haddonfield. John Carpenter's wildly creative Halloween is now well-established as one of the genre's greatest treasures as well as the film that created the slasher movie, a sub-genre that may yet have as many lives as its most prolific psychopaths. The story is simple; bad guy wants to kill teenagers (ideally promiscuous ones). But the plot is not what makes Halloween soscary. Michael Myers comes across as so remorselessly evil and detached that his back-story is effectively superseded by the hugely successful realization of the character. You don't need to know that he's an escaped lunatic who killed his sister, it's enough just to see him brazenly stalking Laurie (Lee Curtis) in the middle of the day. His lack of discretion convinces us it's all about that one night and damn the consequences. His blank face (actually a William Shatner mask painted white) gives away nothing, and it's all the more effective for being presented in the sunny suburbia of leafy Haddonfield (although Autumn, there's always plenty of foliage for Myers to step in and out of). But Myers wouldn't exist without Carpenter (or co-writer Debra Hill). The five-minute, one take opening sequence, all seen through Myers' eyes, is bravura filmmaking that places us immediately and uncompromisingly in the shoes of a murderer. When we return to Haddonfield, Carpenter has the camera move through the quiet streets like an invisible voyeur selecting a target. The decision to set the last half entirely in two houses and the road between is highly effective, making the audience feel trapped even in what should be a comforting setting — it's almost as if Carpenter was challenging himself to avoid shortcuts like isolated farmhouses. In short, Halloween is simply the most important horror film of the last forty years, and absolutely essential viewing.