In my opinion, Michael Myers kicked off the campy horror trend of the 80s. Halloween, released in 1978, was so popular that it spawned its own franchise and several others. In a way, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Kreuger have Michael Myers to thank for their existence. Halloween is by far one of my favorite horror films and I truly believe it took the genre to a new level. This level may not always be great and a lot of viewers think campy horror is a waste of time, but no one can deny it is a horror staple.
Halloween tells the story of six-year-old Michael Myers, a clearly troubled young boy who grabs a kitchen knife and murders his older sister. Fast forward 15 years, it’s October 31 in the town of Haddonfield and high schooler Laurie Strode (introducing Jamie Lee Curtis, horror legacy) prepares to babysit that night instead of committing debauchery with her friends. Towns away, Michael Myers escapes from the asylum and heads back to his hometown, setting his sights on Laurie and proceeding to stalk her and her friends.
Halloween is a quiet horror; its villain never speaks and the film benefits from its simple soundtrack. A low-budget film, John Carpenter himself scored the movie to save money. The plot is nice and simple: a troubled boy comes back to haunt his hometown. The audience doesn’t know anything about Michael or why he felt the need to murder his sister, so they don’t feel bad for him. One of my favorite aspects of campy horror films is that we’re not expected to identify with the villain or feel sorry for him. Since I adore serial killer horror films, I’m often rooting for the villain as an anti-hero, but I never feel sorry for him. It bugs me when these franchises attempt to introduce feelings or sad backstories for their killers; this isn’t an Oscar-winning film, it’s a campy horror slasher. All of this makes Myers the perfect serial killer - he tears through Haddonfield with a purpose the viewer doesn’t know and he snuffs anyone in his path. He also introduces horror viewers everywhere to the serial killer moral compass concept. Myers kills naughty teenagers just after they have sex or do drugs or sneak out. Make bad choices: incite a serial killer.
The main reason this film rocks my world is because it’s a doomed story from the very beginning. With a lot of horror films, an innocent cast will embark on an adventure and as the story develops things go south and horror befalls them. Not with Halloween. From the very first minutes, things go south and continue for the entire film. Loomis, Myers’ psychiatrist, spends the entire film warning every human he can find that Myers will come to Haddonfield and murder anyone in his sight. Viewers know the entire film that this is a suicide mission and many of these characters are done for. This doomed feeling puts the viewer on edge for the whole film and it creates a “fun” scary feeling. There’s no beginning, climax, ending here; Halloween is more of a climax and then shit hits the fan for the rest of the movie kind of film.
Halloween kicked off arguably the most fun decade of horror. Its simple premise and simple, yet purposeful villain paved the way for some of the most notable names in horror. The film puts the audience on the edge of their seats from the get-go and lets them sit there and worry who might be next. Halloween became a legend, inspired numerous sequels, and Curtis rocketed to fame as a scream queen, following in the footsteps of her mother, Janet Leigh. Michael Myers definitely puts himself at the top of the serial killer food chain with this film and he is a force to be reckoned with on horror island. You may think you can outrun him, since he doesn’t run, but he’ll always get you in the end.
If you liked Halloween, you might also like Halloween 2, Halloween III: Season of the Witch and Halloween 4.