Ruff Draft

John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and the vitality of horror cinema

Trey McCabe, Memorial Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Horror cinema has been around as long as the form itself, with classics such as Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari defining not only the genre but the cinematic experience as a whole. However, it is John Carpenter’s 1978 breakthrough film Halloween that defines much of horror as we know it today.

The low-budget blockbuster spurred on a new wave of slasher films, making way for such cult movies as Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street and even the later meta-horror film Scream. With David Gordon Green’s highly anticipated sequel on the horizon, it is clear that the impact Halloween made is lasting, and it isn’t going away any time soon. Why is this?

The original film follows Laurie Strode, a high school student who viewers understand to be something of a goody-two-shoes in comparison to her promiscuous, fun-loving friends. For some strange reason, she’s babysitting a neighborhood boy on Halloween night, right across the street from where her best friend is also babysitting. But that night marks the 15th anniversary of when Michael Myers murdered his sister in the town as a child. It’s also ‘the night HE comes home’ to wreak havoc.

One of the film’s primary strengths is its possession of a technical mastery that goes unmatched, even by the films it spawned. Dean Cundey’s Steadicam-heavy cinematography provides stark and chilling imagery, and John Carpenter’s synth-driven score can only be described as riveting. These surface elements collide in thrilling fashion, turning the bare-bones story into a fully fleshed piece of horror.

Of course, the most iconic aspect of Halloween is its villain, played unnervingly by future director Nick Castle. The character’s design is both startlingly simple but undeniably scary, with the altered William Shatner mask operating as a horrifying representation of something ghastly and sub-human. However, the character’s significance goes beyond his ability to frighten the audience.

In one of the film’s quieter moments, Myers’ psychiatrist, Dr. Samuel Loomis, played wonderfully by Donald Pleasance, utters a monologue detailing his history with Michael, in which he says something more important than any origin story: Michael Myers mis evil, down to his core.

The phrase sounds arbitrary, though. Shouldn’t every villain be evil? In a sense, yes. But Halloween’s confirmation of the simple fact that real, true evil exists is almost a comfort in a world where the most well-received antagonists are nothing more than misunderstood moral relativists.

Of course, this ever-so-well executed film’s legacy has been somewhat tarnished by its eight sequels and two remakes. In the end, though, Halloween lasts the way it does because it acts as a microcosm of the essential elements of horror: the aura of tension, the shape of terror and the confirmation of evil. Let’s hope the new film understands this.

Contact Trey McCabe at [email protected]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Trey McCabe, Memorial Staff Writer

Trey McCabe is a senior this year at Edmond Memorial, and this is his second year on staff at Ruff Draft. He has won two first-place awards at OSSA for...

Navigate Left
  • John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and the vitality of horror cinema

    High Schools

    Bastille rocks Oklahoma into “Oblivion”

  • John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and the vitality of horror cinema

    High Schools

    DECA students earn gold at JA Investor Challenge

  • Feature

    New experiences for Coach Crabaugh

  • Feature

    Parent University: a time to learn

  • John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and the vitality of horror cinema

    High Schools

    “What If It’s Us” queer romantic comedy

  • John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and the vitality of horror cinema

    High Schools

    Memorial swim team splashes into season

  • John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and the vitality of horror cinema

    High Schools

    Ed Sheeran: down in Dallas

  • John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and the vitality of horror cinema

    High Schools

    Senior skip day: not a thing

  • John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and the vitality of horror cinema

    High Schools

    Lany: a hometown show to remember

  • John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and the vitality of horror cinema

    Feature

    Sucessful Socktober

Navigate Right
The student news sites of Edmond Public Schools
John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and the vitality of horror cinema