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John Carpenter's Halloween is well made and quite scary

Updated on October 20, 2011

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Now that I've decided to cover a collection of scary movies in preparation for Halloween, how can I start with anything other than John Carpenter's Halloween itself? And when I say "John Carpenter's" I mean just that. He directed it. He produced it. He co-wrote it. He provided the voice of Paul (Annie's Boyfriend). He even scored the movie.

Admittedly, this is not my favorite scary movie. Nothing against the movie itself. I simply tend not to lean toward the "psycho killer on the loose" kind of movie. But it's well made and very influential in its genre.

The movie starts with a murder, seen through the eyes of the killer: six-year-old Mike Myers. Dressed as a clown one Halloween, he attacks his sister (nudity warning) with a knife and is put into a mental facility until he escapes 17 years later. He returns to his family's former residence (which has since fallen in disrepair) and begins to obsess over the lovely Laurie (played by a 20 year old Jamie Lee Curtis).

There are murders. There's tension. There's a psychotic, silent killer walking around in a William Shatner mask that has been painted white. (Seriously. It's a William Shatner mask.) The movie is solidly made.

The main problem for a modern audience is that the movie was so influential that many of the techniques used here have been used so much in other movies that their effect is a little weakened here, but they do still work.

We only see Mike Myers' face once when he's six and once toward the end when Laurie briefly rips his mask off. There are many camera shots where Mike appears rather unceremoniously in the background then disappears, unseen by the characters in the foreground. These are effective tricks that help build up Myers and keep you wondering about him, but they have been used a lot by this point.

And as a side note, I'd just like to point out something I mentioned in my previous hub about why we like scary movies.

When you look at who dies in this movie, we don't know a whole lot about his sister at the beginning, but we have evidence that she may have just finished doing ... something *wink* *wink* ... with her boyfriend. Laurie's friends sleep with each other, drink, smoke and pawn off their duties on others. On the other hand, Laurie is a brainy, dutiful wholesome young lady who spends the night babysitting as she agreed.

And who ends up dead?

That doesn't mean I'm finding fault with the movie. I do still enjoy it. It's just one of those things that happens all the time in Horror.

So, while it's not the kind of movie I crave, I admit that it's well made and effective. 8 / 10.

Halloween is rated R for tension, violence, language and nudity.


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    • Garlonuss profile image

      Garlonuss 6 years ago from Saratoga Springs, Utah

      Wow. That's some experience. My dad showed me scary movies like Alien and Salem's Lot when I was a kid, but it's different when you go into it knowing it's going to be scary rather than some happy-fun-time movie. That and I always had the option of walking out. Though if you watch a scary movie through to the main scary part, it's usually best to ride it out so you can see the resolution. Otherwise, in your mind, the killer's still out there hiding in every shadow.

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 6 years ago from Virginia

      Very nicely done....I remember as a kid and Halloween can on HBO...and I begged my movie to let me watch the movie. I was thinking Halloween, movie. But after he kills his sister and then jumps over the car at the beginning of the movie....I wanted nothing to do with the movie....and tried to leave....but my mom made me watch the movie...and it scared me so bad I could not sleep for weeks. To this day I have not enjoyed horror movies....although I have to agree this movie is awesome the way Carpenter set up his shots...with Michael in the background and the music....great movie and a great hub.

    • manthy profile image

      Mark 6 years ago from Alabama,USA

      Well I know that movies scared me when I was a kid that is for sure and John Carpenter did do a good job of keeping you on the edge of your seat, to think he did all that with a star trek mask LOL - good point

      Have a great week

    • Garlonuss profile image

      Garlonuss 6 years ago from Saratoga Springs, Utah

      Well, I will admit that there are visible mistakes. When I say "well made" I'm mainly talking about how he is able to create and maintain the foreboding atmosphere. As scary movies go, I tend to focus on how they maintain tension more than technical proficiency, but you do have a point.

    • manthy profile image

      Mark 6 years ago from Alabama,USA

      We share a few things in common - I also am a avid movie collector and I sell things online.

      But I have to argue that Halloween was a well made movie, I watched a show last nigh (what a coincedence)that was poking fun at John Carpenter's Halloween, it showed scenes where people we're in shots in the film and where someone was smoking a cigarette but they blew their smoke onscreen - I could go on and on about the bloopers in this film, what is funny is that I always have liked this movie because it scared me silly when I was a kid and the JC Halloween 2 was really spooky, but I must say that the documentory I watched made me change my perception of this classic film.

      I will say that I still am voting your review a up and awesome just because I have a similar feeling about the film until this documentory - I will comment again and give you the name of it, it is about bloopers in horror movies and I watched it off netflix.

      Cool Hub - Keep up the good writing