Review of Halloween (1978)

Lilly Hall and Sophia Serice

In honor of the “Halloween” franchise’s last movie, we are taking a look back to the movie that started it all: “Halloween” from 1978. 

Jaime Lee Curtis, now one of Hollywood’s most famous actors, portrays main character Laurie Strode. Even at the young age of 23, Curtis brought the character to life. She skillfully displayed the fear, adrenaline and tension brought on by Michael Myers, leaving the viewers on the edge of their seats.

This movie also served as the breakthrough for one of Hollywood’s most influential directors and composers John Carpenter. He created the famous soundtrack for Halloween and after making the first Halloween he went on to make a great remake of “The Thing” and  “The Fog”.   

“Halloween” takes place on the night of October 31st in 1978 in the fictional town of Haddonfield, Illinois. On Halloween fifteen years prior, a young Michael Myers killed his older sister, Judith, and was sent to prison. Until his escape. 

The story continues, focusing on Laurie Strode, a high school student and babysitter who seemingly happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The story progresses as Michael Myers, now 21, goes back to Haddonfield, Illinois with his doctor, Samuel Loomis, not far behind. 

The story unfolds as a psychopathic Myers stalks Laurie and her friends. When Laurie suspects something isn’t right after repeatedly seeing the masked Myers around town, she tells her friend Annie—only to be dismissed. 

This clever and influential film paves the way for the slasher movie genre as a whole. “Halloween” is one of the first horror movies of its time to start classic horror tropes that we now know. These include masked killers which are now seen in modern slasher films such as “Happy Death Day” with its baby mask, “Saw” with its pig masks and again in “Scream” with the ghost face mask. 

Another trope that “Halloween” introduced is the concept of the “final girl”. In the movie, Laurie Strode is the final teenaged character left alive at the end of the film. The “final girl” trope is seen time and time again throughout modern and classic slasher films such as “Friday the 13th” where we see Alice Hardy and later Ginny Field. 

Though these tropes can become slow and monotonous, the effects of this film have spanned decades. From popular franchises such as Friday the 13th (1980s), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1994–1991) and Trick ‘r Treat (2007), to comedy based horror like Scream (1996). These movies all incorporate masked killers, teenage victims and a final girl that “Halloween” set the model for. Although the effects of this movie are indisputable, no film is without critique. 

Unlike modern slasher films, “Halloween” focuses on the psychological aspect of horror rather than the gore. The concept of a masked murderer watching your every move is what makes this movie scary. It is slow and hard to watch at times because of the lack of constant action, but this slow build to the finale adds tension and anticipation to the plot. 

“Halloween II”, the 1981 sequel, shows the return of Myers as he chooses and stalks his next victims. However Laurie isn’t safe just yet.  If you are looking for something to get you in the Halloween spirit, this movie is a great place to start. However, if you are wanting a movie with jumpscares or something truly gruesome, this may not be the movie for you.