We aren’t saying that Halloween was the first, but in 1978 John Carpenter created Michael Myers. The success of the Halloween movie and its Silent Stalking Monster spawned the 80s Slasher boom. Halloween became the mould to which Slasher movies then adhered to, even to this day when the big name series have been rebooted.
For many Halloween is the essential Slasher movie. For others its just the essential Halloween movie.
With the original Slasher victim-survivor Laurie Strode played by Jamie Lee Curtis, the giant hulk of Michael Myers (played by Nick Castle, Tony Moran and Will Sandin) as well as the ever action packed and panicked Dr Loomis played by Donald Pleasence the movie truly saw the birth of everything we’ve been talking about in the last two weeks.
Michael Myers and the Halloween series manages to be everything that Friday the 13th wasn’t.
The film works so well because it builds tension and it does it by being simple. We don’t get any real giant explanations for Michael or why he is the way he is, his doctor is in the film but he spends most of his time in blind panic after Michael escapes from the asylum. We see him murder his sister as a kid, he never speaks a word, we don’t get real background on him and he spends the whole movie stalking people. You see things over his shoulder, watch him move from the waist down. He’ll be in shot one moment and gone in the blink of a eye. His own music playing in the background to let us know he’s going to be there, doing something. It all worked brilliantly.
Add that to a simplistic story and we’re onto gold.
There isn’t anything special about Laurie or any of the kids. There doesn’t need to be a reason, Michael is just stalking them all and killing them. There isn’t some “revenge” story or even any real pattern. He drives around the place, he kills and he does it in the shadows.
For me that is the one thing it did well. You just had to be scared of the guy, you didn’t need to know him or his motives you just had to fear for the life of everyone he had marked out as prey.
There isn’t anything flashy about the way he does it either, and in reality there probably shouldn’t be anything scary about a William Shatner mask.
There isn’t anything special about Halloween. A lunatic escapes, kills a bunch of kids and one of the gets away. At the end of the movie the lunatic looks to be unkillable which allows the survivor to escape.
That is where it works though. It doesn’t have to be anything more and whilst the 80s was full of Slashers trying to build character out of their monsters with convoluted backstories, motives and patterns Halloween didn’t care and stuck to the basics to scare people. For some it isn’t pretty or challenging enough but also for most Slasher movies are only there to scare you. You don’t watch them in the hope that your brain is going to be engaged trying to figure out all the stupid plot points they can think up on a whim, you watch them for the gore and for the thrill and Halloween delivers that in the most basic yet effective way.
Jamie Lee Curtis as well as Brian Andrews and Kyle Richards as Tommy Doyle and Lindsey Wallace made the film. Laurie was such a nice and innocent character and throw her together with two little kids and you really honestly feel scared for them. Without strong actors/actresses it could go horribly wrong but they held the film all the way through and all three characters are just as important as Michael Myers ever will be.