Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


Michael Myers on the rampage
HALLOWEEN (1978). Director: John Carpenter.

In the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois in 1963, a little boy named Michael Myers stabs his teenage sister to death. Fifteen years later, Myers, who has been institutionalized ever since, escapes from an asylum and makes his way back to Haddonfield. Myers has been in the care of Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) -- named after a character in the vastly-superior Psycho -- and pursues him to Haddonfield, where his former patient begins a killing spree of babysitters and the like. Loomis has come to see Myers as being the embodiment of evil, although his reasons for this are never explained, as until the very end the man just seems like your typical, normal maniac-on-the-loose. Halloween benefits from Dean Cundey's excellent Panavision photography, which gives it a look that almost fools you into thinking it's not borderline schlock, which it is. Still, the movie does have some suspense and atmosphere, and the acting is professional. Jamie Lee Curtis basically owes her career to the fact that her mother was the star of Psycho, but she's quite good in Halloween, and Nancy Loomis/Kyes and P. J. Soles are effective enough as Curtis' friends. Brian Andrews and [Ms.] Kyle Richards are charming as the babysitters' little charges. Donald Pleasence eschews chewing the scenery and is excellent as the restrained but nearly hysterical Dr. Loomis. Halloween is deliberately paced and while the theme music is good, the rest of the repetitious "score" is mediocre and could have used different music. The non-gory Halloween lacks the visceral energy and shocks of Friday the 13th, which came out two years later and also engendered a mess of sequels. Halloween is not a bad movie for what it is, but it was very over-rated upon its release and its designation as a "classic" is a major over-statement. Aside from a couple of things, I've never thought that much of director Carpenter [The Thing], either.

Verdict: Has the glimmer of a really good horror film but doesn't quite hit the mark. **1/2

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