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Review Halloween (1978): Is Halloween a classic?

genre: slasher, horror, thriller

Halloween is ranked among the best if not the best slasher ever made. I don't think you will find many people disagreeing with this notion. But after all these years is this notion still valid? And can Halloween still be considered a classic?

The reason I ask this is because after watching Halloween I found the experience to be a little underwhelming. Now don't get your panties in a twist there are some external factors that could have caused this. For one I was a little tired. Something I had fixed with two strong cups of coffee. At least I thought so. And second for some time now it's been extremely cold outside (-8° C). Winter has come. Two months too late and very unusual and yet you have idiot presidents and minions thinking climate changes is a fabrication of scientists. Sure! Thirdly the night was almost over and the darkness was fading. These three factors certainly influenced my mood and mind set. 

Then there is the pacing of the film. It really takes it's sweet time to get events going. Of course there is a very good reason why John Carpenter chose to do so. At times it is slow and uneventful. Or rather should I say it seems like it is. Because in hindsight it's exactly these elements that make Halloween absolutely chilling. There is not much blood, gore or even violence but more than enough implied to make you shiver. But how is this possible? Timing and the power of building up tension and suspense properly. 

Our first introduction of Michael Myers is not a pleasant one. While perhaps not as shocking today back then it wasn't something you would expect and it certainly had some impact. Fifteen years later we are witness to Michael Myers escaping. This second time Michael probably is even more terrifying since we don't get to see his face at all. All you see is his shape. This shape is really trying very hard to kill and destroy the nurse sitting in the car waiting for Dr. Samuel Loomis (Donald Pleasaece) who stepped out of the car to open the gate. Briefly before we saw Loomis getting annoyed by the nurse since she wasn't taking him seriously. During this attack though Loomis doesn't come into action until The Shape is long gone. He wasn't that far from the car. Loomis was old but still quick on his feet. So why did it take so long for him to get back to the nurse? I mean he was right there. Whatever his motivation it's a very effective plot element since the nurse getting tossed around by The Shape like it's nothing certainly was terrifying. Carpenter has made sure to implement more of these moments when you least expect them. There are only a few jump scares. But when they happen they are strong and scary. By now the audience is full aware of what Michael Myers is capable of and that he rarely hesitates. So when you see him lurking and stalking certain people in particular Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) you know that he could attack at any time. That is real unnerving at times especially when Michael has a real knack of appearing and disappearing in very supernatural fashion. The fact that he doesn't speak makes it worse. Combined with the tales Loomis is spinning you have no choice but to believe he is evil incarnate.

In the climax when Laurie Strode is forced to deal with Michael. You are on her side. She is a very likeable character from the start although she does lose a bit of credibility when she very conveniently has lost the paranoia she had experienced only a few hours before. But I can overlook this since that is horror trope 101. Characters in horror films always act a little foolish when danger is near. It's part of the fun. In this case it's not the terror that makes things scary. It's the fact that Michael even after being stabbed and shot multiple times still is alive. Tommy (Brian Andrews) already called him the boogeyman and him not dying kind of confirms this. 

So is Halloween a classic? And is it one of the best slashers ever made? Yes and yes. Is it THE best? That I am not sure of. There are so many good ones and Halloween is far from perfect. It certainly has elements that are still compelling and effective today. But I can understand why some people might think it's overrated. Not everyone digs atmospheric horror like I do and I have nothing against a healthy dose of bloodshed. Besides you are required to have patience. Still I don't think it's overrated. It deserves all the credit it's getting and then some. 

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