Michael Myers is the first seemingly indestructible libido assassin, stalking and killing teens that defile his abode with their pelvic urges and inflate within him an adolescent jealousy he's not emotionally equipped to process. Part of what makes him such a creepy boogeyman is that fact that, despite later evidence to the contrary, we know he's a real person.
Carpenter smartly humanizes the monster in the opening scene, which is shot from the perspective of young Michael, starting the cycle of murder with his own sister. The scene ends by switching to the familiar third-person where the camera lingers on an expressionless little boy holding a bloodstained knife. However inhuman his later actions appear – extreme displays of stealth, strength and durability (the man is harder to put down than a coked-out rhino) – it's clear that he's flesh and blood.
The killer's-eye-view anticipates the reflective interest in voyeurism that typifies a lot of modern horror – particularly that of the found-footage and torture persuasion – but it's the way Carpenter uses long takes with shifting background elements to turn Michael into a spectral menace that has inspired a classier take on terror.
This approach to subtle, insidious horror – where a barely noticeable face in the corner of a window is infinitely more frightening in the long term than any gory kill or jump scare – has been embraced more by foreign directors like Joon-ho Bong (Memories of Murder, The Host) than by Carpenter's countrymen, who are more often preoccupied with titillation and perversion.
Aside from a lot of mediocre and outright bad acting, some dated effects, and the overuse of that iconic theme song (a little silence goes a long way) Halloween still manages to be more unsettling than the vast majority of its progeny.
Halloween screens at 10pm on Saturday, November 17th, at the TIFF Bell Lightbox as part of the Birth of a Villain screening series. (Falcon International)
ReviewsOct 29, 2014
The BabadookJennifer Kent
At every Toronto After Dark Fest, there's at least one film that rides a wave of palpable buzz and has attendees clamouring to see it. Last ...
ReviewsOct 24, 2014
Films about time travel are some of the trickiest ones to create as far as sci-fi subgenres are concerned — it's not so much about the...
ReviewsOct 23, 2014
Why Horror?Nicolas Kleiman, Rob Lindsay
As a nerd, it's always pretty weird seeing your favourite genre rise to the surface of mainstream culture, and horror is no exception. In hi...
ReviewsOct 22, 2014
Time LapseBradley King
You don't fuck with time. That's the philosophical takeaway - an idea espoused time and time again by one of the lead characters - in Bradle...
ReviewsOct 21, 2014
John Geddes' Hellmouth is a kaleidoscopic vision of hell that tantalizes with some bewitching visuals but ultimately comes off more as funho...
ReviewsOct 20, 2014
Kumiko, The Treasure HunterDavid Zellner
In 2001, a woman named Takako Konishi was found dead in a remote area of Minnesota. Botched eyewitness information swirled into an urban leg...
ReviewsOct 19, 2014
Man, I really wanted to like Zombeavers. Based on the trailer, which currently boasts over three million hits on YouTube, the film seemed li...
ReviewsOct 18, 2014
ABCs of Death 2Various Directors
When producers Ant Timpson and Tim League announced that they'd be producing a followup to 2012's highly ambitious anthology film The ABCs o...