Halloween is just around the corner, meaning it’s the time of the year where people pound down a bag of candy corn on their couch and watch frightening flicks. There are countless praised Halloween films that have been produced throughout the past few decades, but none come close to possessing the influence that the original ‘Halloween,’ an iconic slasher film directed and produced by John Carpenter in 1978, possesses. This film’s popularity has led to several other sequels and a new movie, which was released on Oct. 19.
This classic follows the perspective of Laurie Strode (played by Jamie Lee Curtis), a 17-year-old girl who escapes death from a masked man by the name of Michael Myers. The synopsis is about 6-year-old Myers, who murders his 15-year-old sister. As a result, he is sent to a mental institution in his small town of Haddonfield, Ill., and is taken under the care of psychiatrist Sam Loomis. Fifteen years pass, and Myers escapes the mental hospital and sets his eyes on killing a group of high school students.
In ‘Halloween,’ there was never really an established motive for Myers to commit the murders of these teenagers. The idea was that, based on Loomis’ report of him being the embodiment of pure evil, he decided to prove that he was evil by slashing anyone that came into contact with him.
This 40-year-old treasure holds its place as one of the most influential horror films of all time because of the high standards it established upon its release. It popularized the sub-genre of slasher movies, along with the concept of the “final girl”—as all the other characters slowly begin to be slain by the main killer, the final girl, whom is usually the main protagonist, must escape her fate from the killer.
“Halloween” is responsible for later films receiving high praise such as “Friday the 13th” (1982) and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984), because of the values it set in stone. These succeeding films also contained groups of regularly sexually enthused and mostly incompetent teenagers who become the prey of a wandering stranger with a weapon of some sort. As a result, the viewer of the film perceives the teens as inept because they expect them to be killed at some point, and typically, that’s what occurs.
The influence of “Halloween,” however, goes far beyond those few traits that succeeding horror films went on to inherit. The movie’s success and impact earned it nine other movies, including sequels and attempts to establish different motives for Michael Myers.
Despite its incredibly small budget at the time, “Halloween” still holds itself up as arguably the most influential horror film to date. This is because of its unique setting, its portrayal of the characters that eventually meet their fate, and most importantly, its ability to showcase a main killer with a creative backstory, despite his malicious actions in his later years lacking clear motive. It’s a masterpiece that holds its own exceedingly well.
Jamie Lee Curtis reprised her role as Laurie Strode in 2018’s “Halloween,” released Oct. 19. The movie finally has Laurie confronting Michael after escaping his killing spree from 40 years ago. Viewers are advised to ignore the other sequels and to consider this new movie as “Halloween II.” Longtime fans and newcomers alike are sure to enjoy this highly anticipated sequel that will hopefully conclude the conflict between Laurie and Michael.
“Halloween” is now playing in theaters nationwide. While watching, remember to bear in mind that it’s important to appreciate how the original 1978 film has left such a mark on the genre of horror.