The Devil’s Eyes

         Everyone knows his name. He is a character that has drenched the annals of cinematic history with blood, and he has become famous within our popular culture. Michael Myers has been slashing his way through the screen for twenty-nine years now. The movie that started it all in 1978, in addition to jump-starting the entire “slasher” sub-genre, was John Carpenter’s Halloween.

         Slasher movies, synonymous with blood, gore, and little plot, were really born through Bob Clark’s 1974 film, Black Christmas, Halloween is more well-known due to its overwhelming success. Halloween cost only $325,000 to make and grossed $47 million at the box office in the United States, becoming one of the most profitable independent films ever made.

         The plot is simple enough. Michael Myers kills his big sister, Judith, in 1963. Fifteen years later, in 1978, he is ready to kill again. He escapes from Smith’s Grove Sanitarium and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield. He notices Laurie Strode (played by Jamie Lee Curtis in her film debut) and begins to stalk her, making her his next target. He kills anyone in his way. Luckily, his doctor, Sam Loomis (played by genre veteran Donald Pleasance), is hot on the trail because he knew what the evil was and no one would listen.

         With the basic exposition set up in the first twenty minutes, the audience is ready to go. Michael stalks around the town of Haddonfield, staying in the shadows and following Laurie until he finally makes his move. Carpenter crafts a tense, atmospheric story here, using simple methods to get the audience nervous. Even something as simple as the film’s music, scored by John Carpenter himself, works to scare the audience. It would be a crime to give away the different scare tactics used, in case there is anyone who has not seen the movie. The movies Halloween is responsible for, including the Halloween sequels, are very violent and gory. The original Halloween movie itself uses very little blood. It relies instead on the shadows, the music and the mood to terrify its viewers.

         Even after eight sequels and countless imitations, Michael Myers is still roaming around today. In 2007, director Rob Zombie is remaking this 1978 classic with his own version of Halloween. As long as the character and formula works, the movies are likely to continue to show up on the screen to scare us all yet again.

Joseph Stone

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