Though not the first slasher film (Texas, Psycho and Peeping Tom came before it), John Carpenter’s 1978 masterwork drew the blueprint that every subsequent slasher would abide by. A simple story of a babysitter and her night with the embodiment of evil is great example of indie filmmaking and what a small budget can produce. Michael Myers is the stuff of nightmares.
Featuring gorgeous cinematography by Dean Cundey and a no-nonsense pace thanks to Carpenter’s sharp screenplay, Halloween is a classic in the genre for a reason. Jamie Lee Curtis shines as the young Laurie Strode with a scream most horror actresses would sell their soul for and Donald Pleasence is a pure delight in his signature role as Dr. Sam Loomis, Michael’s former psychiatrist. Halloween is the rare slasher with characters you can both relate to and enjoy thanks to the performances that “totally” bring them to life.
Surprisingly bloodless, like most great horror films it’s what you don’t see that really gets to you. Sure, there are murders aplenty but the lack of gore, much like in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre four years prior, only adds to the mounting dread and tension. Aside from The Thing, this is John Carpenter’s crowning achievement as a director and the king of all slasher films.