Halloween (1978)

AKA John Carpenter's Halloween (1978)
(Release Date: October 25, 1978)

4 Stars... Scarier than Ashcroft!4 Stars... Scarier than Ashcroft!4 Stars... Scarier than Ashcroft!4 Stars... Scarier than Ashcroft!

Atmospheric and Innovative Classic Horror Film!

Boogeyman Critic!!!
J.C. Maçek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

Let's face it... John Carpenter has made a few stinkers in his long career! He's had his ups and downs, but heed facts, for every Starman there's a Vampire$ and for every Memoirs of an Invisible Man there's a Dark Star! He's also had some real winners, and 1978's Career-Building Halloween is the best example of such a success!

Of course it's easy at this point to dismiss Halloween as one-of-a-breed of indestructible psycho-killer flicks that popped up in the late '70's and early '80's, and in this day of Freddy Versus Jason it's easy to forget that Michael Myers was once more than just the jackass behind the Austin Powers glasses! Halloween's biggest historical tormentor has been the series of imitators and the string of lackluster sequels that, in hindsight, make this look pretty standard as a horror film.

However, when we unlearn a little and take a look back, considering all, Halloween is a really great scary movie, innovative in its approach and concepts. It's especially noteworthy that this is an independent film made on a budget that wouldn't pay for a decent Steak Dinner and it still comes off as a success, becoming the highest grossing Independent film of the time and spawning more sequels than the old woman who lived in a shoe!

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All Hallowed Facts

Fun with Film!
  • Runtime: 91 min
  • MPAA Rating: R (no, not PG as reported elsewhere)
  • Working Title: The Babysitter Murders
  • The Creepy Piano Score was written by John Carpenter!
  • The mask really is one of William Shatner, reportedly based on his role in The Devil's Rain (1975).
  • Michael Myers is clearly identified as a 21 year old (fifteen years in a mental institution starting at age six), yet Tony Moran is credited as "Michael Myers (age 23)"! Time Travel?
  • In absence of Major Studio Backing, this film was distributed by CIP (Compass International Pictures)!
  • At a reported budget of $325,000 and a reported Box Office Gross of $47,000,000, this is one of the most profitable films ever made.
  • Three different actors portrayed Michael "The Shape" Myers: Nick Castle generally is the dude in the Mask; Will Sandin plays the little kid Michael, and, of course, Moran played the Face. (That's not even counting writer/ producer Debra Hill's hands in the first murder scene).

-Trivial Kneumsi!

Can't Get Enough HALLOWEEN?
Trick or Treat to more!
William Shatner indeed!
Michael on Wax!
Michael Myers exhibit from the Movieland Wax Museum!
  1. Halloween (1978)
  2. Halloween II (1981)
  3. Halloween III:
    Season of the Witch
  4. Halloween 4:
    The Return of Michael Myers
  5. Halloween 5:
    The Revenge of Michael Myers
  6. Halloween 6:
    The Curse of Michael Myers
  7. Halloween H20:
    Twenty Years later
  8. Halloween:
  9. Halloween (2007)
  10. Halloween II (2009)

On Halloween Day, 1963, creepy six-year-old Michael Myers stabbed his (voluptuous) big sister to death with a butcher knife. Fifteen years later he escapes from the Mental Institution he's been confined to like David Lee Roth from Van Halen and heads on home to give the townspeople of Haddonfield, Illinois the fright of their lives. Halloween Day, 1978, The Night HE Came Home!

What makes Halloween is the creepy mood and the shot choices rather than the overt brutality that many horror movies blend and send to the screen. Here we have an experiment in horror as an over-hanging cloud, not some anatomy lesson. Many of the murders take place from the camera's point of view, and we rarely see Michael Myers above the shoulders, at least not without his stolen expressionless mask. Much more than the shock and nausea aspect of horror which is cheap and easy, Carpenter gives us the lingering dread of knowing something must be happening, and when it finally does it's time to jump like a Kangaroo on x-t-c!

Also, many of the Horror Clichés that we take for granted now were created here. The basis for a significant percentage of the comedy in Scream started with this string of Babysitter Murders. From the ominous note of "I'll be right back" to the act of sex and drugs leading directly to murder... it's all here. You Rock n' Roll High School fans out there will be elated over the nude scenes that P.J. Soles offers up. (If this movie teaches us anything it's that incredible nerds could score with hot chicks in 1978!) The unintentional comedy of having the Shape, as he's called, wearing a William Shatner Mask doesn't hurt a bit either.

For all it's Classicism, this isn't a perfect film. The entire second act amounts to a waiting game which initially builds terror, but after a while feels more like a dark-lit episode of One Life to Live! Suffering the most here is top-billed Donald "There's Something ABOUT That Guy" Pleasence as Myers' obsessed shrink Dr. Sam Loomis! While Pleasence offers some of the best acting of his career here, he spends a great amount of time standing in the front yard of the old Myers place. Sure he makes up for it in the finale (and the sequel), but the idea of the alleged main character standing on the lawn for an hour of screen time in the hope that the villain will come check his mail amounts to a bowl of spiced boredom.

Either because they ran out of story-time or money, or because Carpenter and Co-Writer Debra Hill were banking on a Halloween II, they leave out some valid points about exactly why Myers is obsessed with Jamie Lee Curtis' Laurie Strode. How is he so seemingly indestructible? What is his fascination with Captain Kirk? Also, the flat-out non-ending gives an open-ended and unsatisfying final act for our players. The ending of Starship Troopers was more conclusive than this!

The overall feel of the film along with the camera work, directing and primarily very good acting all combine to make Halloween a classic. Curtis in particular makes an excellent big-screen debut both as an actress and as a "Scream Queen"! It's not a surprise that she became a much bigger actress! Her definition and out and out claim of the term "Scream Queen" started here... and oh, man... these are screams to beat Jim Gillette!

Halloween is a great scary movie and all ready to remind you where the creepiness began! However, it does tend to leave one wanting more, and without Halloween II the non-ending is a little empty and wanting. Many will tell you that the Sequel was an unnecessary addition to a great film, but it's worth a look. In most regards it's the second half of one big freaky film!

Four Stars out of Five for Halloween! On one major side of the story this is one of the best and most trend-setting horror movies of all time, but on the flip side, this really does only feel like part one. Still, it's amazing to see where so many of the "Slasher Film" motifs were born and this movie shows in stone-carved evidence what John Carpenter can do with a low budget.

The SHAPE compels you...
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Halloween (1978) Reviewed by J.C. Maçek III who is solely responsible for his own views and... for... his... Captain Kirk... Mask!
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You know... I tend to prefer my Sculpted Naked Female Breasts in the non-blood-covered variety!

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Halloween II (1981)

AKA Halloween II: The Horror Continues (1981)
AKA Halloween II: The Nightmare Isn't Over! (1981)

(Release Date: October 30, 1981)

3.5 Stars... A Necessary Sequel!3.5 Stars... A Necessary Sequel!3.5 Stars... A Necessary Sequel1/2

The second half of the night Evil came home!

SHAPEly Critic!!!
J.C. Maçek III
The World's Greatest Critic!
One of the culprits in the relegation of the original Halloween back to the realm of Cliché Horror films is the myriad mediocre sequels out there racing with Friday the Thirteenth and A Nightmare on Elm Street to be the most watered down film series of all time. While I'll get behind that for the most part, I'm going to break with a lot of horror fans and say that Halloween II is not one of those bad sequels. If anything writers John Carpenter and Debra Hill seem to have had this, the rest of the story, in mind from the beginning. With the plot holes and unanswered questions of the original classic, Halloween II seems a lot more needed than it's usually given credit for. It might not be as good as the original, but it's a great second half of one hell of a bad night!

Too Hallowed Facts

More Fun with Film!
  • MCA/ Universal (one of the many Studios to say "Uh, No" to Halloween) released this one to great profit!
  • Runtime: 92 Minutes (uncut)
  • Much of this film takes place after midnight, making it not really Halloween! Halloween II sounds scarier than All Saints Day though, even I admit that!
  • MPAA Rating: R (a BIG R)
  • In Halloween II during the Autopsy Scene, Pleasence specifically states that Michael Myers is 21 years of age. Still Tony Moran was listed in the original closing credits of Halloween II as "Michael Myers (age 23)"!
  • Except for the opening flashback recap "The Shape" is played by Dick Warlock. The Shape went from Rick to Dick!
  • After playing the "Young Michael Myers" in this film up-and-coming actor Adam Gunn's career ended. Will Sandin (who played a younger Michael in Halloween) similarly never worked in film again!
  • Pamela Susan Shoop is hotter than Melted Cheese!
  • Gregory Benford Moment: Toward the end of Halloween one of The Shape's eyes is put out by a coat hanger (and it shows in Tony Moran's face). In the final sequence of Halloween II it's made clear that he has both his eyes! (Or is this part of his "indestructability"?)

-Extremely Trivial Kneumsi!

The Sequel picks up quite literally where the first leaves of... to the minute. Michael Myers' six shots to the chest seem to have had as much an effect as an ear piercing, and the body is ever-so-gone! Naturally this doesn't sit too well with Sam Loomis (Donald "There's something ABOUT That Guy" Pleasence) or the barely surviving Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis)! As Laurie is brought to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital, the mess Mike made in the first film is slowly uncovered, including the Sheriff’s daughter.

Myers isn't anywhere near finished, though, as he cuts a swath through Haddonfield on his way to Laurie's impending skewering. What follows is a Hospital team under siege by The Shape as the cops and Loomis himself tick off clue after clue on their way to the stunning last act which seems to tape up the loose ends just fine! No wonder Halloween III had nothing to do with these two films! Damn well nowhere to go!

Naturally, along the way, The Shape takes a number of lives in new and creative ways. New director Rick Rosenthal takes a much different approach from that of Carpenter, allowing us to see more of Myers, and more of the blood and guts. On the other hand, Rosenthal does offer us up a new and unique method of frightening the audience: Half of the murders are shown in gruesome detail, and half take place off camera to be discovered by the surviving fewTJ Hooker?. Of the potential prey of The Shape we see The Last Starfighter himself, Lance Guest teamed up with Budd (Leo Rossi) as a couple of mack-daddy EMTs; Pamela Susan Shoop as the shockingly hot Nurse Karen Bailey; Gloria Gifford as the irritable Head Nurse Mrs. Alves; and among others our resident chubby guy Cliff 'Fatty' Emmich as the security guard, Mr. Garrett! Of course, that's just the beginning. There's no shortage of Blood in this film. It's no Kill Bill, but damn!

Donald Pleasence shines here as Loomis, acting with a realistic balance between gun-wielding defender and intelligent psychiatrist. All the waiting around and mumbling that took place in the first film is made up for here in so many ways, particularly the exciting final act. For all her helpless female in danger role here, Jamie Lee Curtis is still really something else as Laurie. She's a scream queen but a realistic human being at the same time with some legitimately great acting!

Major Studio Backing certainly helped the clean (yet seamless) look of the film and a bigger budget allowed for effects of a more special nature. However, this may have also allowed more of a Whoreywood Suit influence taking away some of the more innovative and groundbreaking work on the original. Michael Myers' William Shatner Mask looks three years older (as does Pleasence's beard) and some of the subtle creepy horror is bartered away for in-your-face gore. All told this is a pretty damned indispensable film (light years ahead of the other sequels) and it ties up a lot of loose ends left undone in the first film... but it's not a better film than the original. Taken for all with all the two should really be held as one good film, rather than two, but the second film does such a good job of recapping the events of the first film that Halloween II almost stands alone more successfully than Halloween!

Even so, Halloween II gets Three and One Half Stars out of Five... slightly less than Halloween! What's your favorite? Up to you, but I'd say: "Gimme both!" Like Halloween's struggle to remain on top of both Freddy and Jason, Halloween II benefits from a turn about back in time and a re-analysis of the merits herein! As for Brother Kneumsi, Halloween 1 and 2 belong together! Halloweens 3 through 9... you can keep them!

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Halloween II (1981) Reviewed by J.C. Maçek III who is solely responsible for his own views and for his antagonistic relationship with his only sister!
Got something to say? Write it!
Does "THE SHAPE" refer to Pamela Susan Shoop's breasts? Because, Pepsi, that's a shape you can tip your hat to!
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