(1978, Dir. by John Carpenter.)
Why It's Here:
Horror, as a genre, is about the existence of evil. I believe that idea as much as I believe anything. And, for my money, there is not a representation of evil that is as simple and effective as Michael Myers. People bring up that revelation from the sequel that retroactively changed the plot of this film, and people bring up Freddy Kreuger and Jason Voorhees as killers with more of a "personality", and PEOPLE ARE MISSING THE DAMN POINT. This is not a movie about a man killing for a reason, it is a movie about a force of evil being unleashed upon a normal world in a completely random way. It's not just scary - and it is scary - it's a completely fascinating concept that reinvented the genre (for better or worse) and it's a movie that still draws out my imagination every time I watch it.
The Moment That Changes Everything:
Another thing about Halloween, for me, is that it builds its tension while showing an extraordinary bit of restraint. I often feel like about 80 of the movie's 95 minutes go by before it really hits the gas and takes off. But there are so many little things in those 80 minutes that just make you ready for the explosion. Most effective might be an early scene where Jamie Lee Curtis' Laurie Strode walks down the sidewalk...and the camera sits behind the shoulder of Michael and picks up his breathing. Every time I see this scene, I'm reminded that the film wasn't trying to shock us repeatedly - it wanted to get under our skin and stay there. And it achieves that goal.
It Makes a Great Double Feature With:
There is a relatively endless debate about whether or not Halloween is a "ripoff" of Black Christmas. I always get a little defensive when it comes up, which is probably why I've historically shunned Bob Clark's slasher. I still think the film lacks tension and can't match the perfect pacing of Carpenter's film, but they are probably the two most effective slasher films in existence. If you ever needed a slasher film for another holiday, here you go.
What It Means To Me:
What It Means To Me:
There was never any question that John Carpenter's seminal slasher was going to end this list - but I have to admit the timing of this finish is a happy accident. After coming up with this list at the beginning of March(!), I flip-flopped the list a bunch of times as I wrote these posts. There were changes as recently as #4 on the list, but I haven't wavered in my belief that Halloween is the best horror movie ever made since I first saw it. Now that I'm at this point in the list, I kind of can't figure out what to say without getting all dramatic and cheesy. I just - I just really like Halloween a lot. Go back and read some of the other posts in this list. The ones where I use outlandish terms like "best" and "of all time" and "perfect". And then realize that I like Halloween more than all the rest of those movies. Hell, I like it more than anything not made by Hitchcock. It's my own personal perfect horror movie.
And that's the list! Come back later, whence I will post a wrap-up, one-stop-shop, kind of post about the list that took me seven freaking months to finish, in which I will break the list down a bit and share some random thoughts. Oh, and, in case I don't see you.....
HAVE A HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!!!