It’s October, the month of Halloween and what would be more clichéd than doing a countdown of top horror films, so fully admitting to being a walking cliché, I will be doing a series of blogs running down the films in my own personal top 20. Here’s the previous blogs for numbers 20, Audition, 19, Night of the Demon, 18, Zombie Flesh Eaters, 17, Last House on the Left, 16, The Beyond, 15, An American Werewolf in London, 14, [REC], 13, Don’t Look Now, 12, Event Horizon , 11, Cannibal Holocaust and 10, The Wicker Man.
At 9 it’s John Carpenter’s brilliant, Halloween.
It’s a ridiculously simple plot..
A psychotic murderer institutionalized since childhood for the murder of his sister, escapes and stalks a bookish teenage girl and her friends while his doctor chases him through the streets.
Donald Pleasence plays the frankly barking Doctor Loomis, while Jamie Lee Curtis plays the teenager Laurie, and these frankly are the only characters in the film we need to know about apart from of course, Michael Myers, the killer causing the carnage in the film.
The plot doesn’t matter as it’s only there to provide the set-up for Myers stalking Jamie Lee Curtis round her small town while Pleasence runs around like a demented loon trying to stop Myers. It’s really about how Carpenter deconstructs the horror film to it’s utter basics to create the Slasher Film, even though there’s virtually no blood in the film, rather it creates at atmosphere so that the only character we’ve got to care about as opposed to the future victims that populate the film.
Carpenter teases us to the point where as a viewer, you don’t want to look at the screen just in case something comes out of the dark at us again, but this is the joy of the film: it’s a safe scare which rips out everyone’s natural fear of the dark. That’s the joy of this film, and unlike a lot of the films on this list of mine, it is a joy.
It sadly did unleash a host of crap rip-offs, including the Friday the 13th films. That’s not Carpenter’s fault of course, but some of the crap sequels and remakes just take the piss. Let’s forget about those and look at the original for the classic it is.
Next time, we’re going for a walk in the woods….