Starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence
Once the most successful independent movie of all time, this movie really needs no introduction, so let's start off by talking about its various appearances on video.
After its long sleep run at the box office, it would be released on video by Media in a version that looked and sounded like crap. Later Blockbuster Video issued its own version that looked just as bad. It was only in 2000 that, praise the Lord, it's been released by Anchor Bayand finally looks great. The latest DVD edition is a 25th anniversary set, but some people believe the colors are slightly off on this rendition.
There is also a "limited edition" of the film available that features footage that was specifically shot for the film's premiere on TV -- and most agree this set, released around 2000 or so, boasts the best picture the film has ever seen. As for the extended scenes, Carpenter shot them during the production of "Halloween II." They're pretty interesting scenes that help set up the plot for the second movie. This special version of the movie was released on DVD by itself in 2001 as the "expanded edition."
Now, onto the movie: As we all know, it's a masterpiece that's been imitated by everything from the Friday the 13th series to the Nightmare on Elm Street series to the Scream series to a zillion other slasher films made over the past two decades. Everyone and their mother wanted to imitate the success of "Halloween," which was (before "The Blair Witch Project") the most profitable independent movie of all time. Made for just $300,000, it grossed $47 million, and everyone wanted to reproduce its success. Despite Halloween's influence, it actually borrowed liberally from another great horror film, the unjustly forgotten "Black Christmas."
The film came into being when a group of producers, excited about Carpenter's work on his other '70s cult classic -- "Assault on Precinct 13" -- contacted the director about making a movie about babysitters stalked by a killer. The film's working title was "The Babysitter Murders." Eventually, the Halloween concept became part of the story. As he did for "Assault," Carpenter also wrote and performed this movie's excellent musical score.
The story: In 1978, Michael Myers, who as a child killed his big sister on Halloween in 1963, breaks out of an asylum and heads to his hometown of Haddonfield. He targets three high school girlsone a virgin, the others sluts. The sluts die, of coursewhich became a common theme in slasher movies. Myers wears a mask all the time, another gimmick that became a standard of the new film genre launched by the success of "Halloween." The opening scene, where a child in a Halloween mask knocks off his sister with a butcher knife (the camera showing his point of view behind the mask for the entire shoot) is now almost as famous as anything in Hitchcock's "Psycho."
The film introduced the world to Jamie Lee Curtis (playing Laurie Strode, the virgin of the bunch), who was the daughter of "Psycho" actress Janet Leigh. The film would make her a star. Carpenter would also become a name director, making excellent movies for a decade until he burned out in the 1990s and started making crap.
Pleasence, as the psychiatrist on the psycho's trail, made a career out of starring in five of the six sequels, most of which were god-awful. But the second one is underrated and definitely worth watching, especially back-to-back with the first film. Its title, predictably enough is "Halloween II."
Before collaborating on the inevitable sequel, Carpenter and Curtis would team up again on the bitchin' horror film, "The Fog," an unjustly overlooked classic.