Look past the ton of weak imitations, the awful sequels and the jokes about the Shatner mask, and remember that the original Halloween was pretty effective. No film is more responsible for the explosion of teen slashers than John Carpenter’s babysitter butchering classic.
Sure, you’ve seen it, but from the creepy opening piano notes to the disappearing body ending, this low budget surprise changed everything. Agreed, there are several terribly flat lines, and P.J. Soles as a giggling, dead-eyed airhead irritates the shit out of you, but Carpenter develops anxiety well, and plants it right in a wholesome Midwestern neighborhood. You don’t have to go camping or take a road trip or do anything at all – the boogeyman is right there at home.
Michael Myers – that hulking, unstoppable, blank menace – is scary. Pair that with the down-to-earth charm of lead Jamie Lee Curtis, who brought a little class and talent to the genre, and add the bellowing melodrama of horror veteran Donald Pleasance, and you’ve hit all the important notes. For the coup de grace, John Carpenter’s minimalistic score is always there to ratchet up the anxiety. Nice.