10 Movies in 10 Days / Halloween (1978)
Halloween is my favorite movie. Not just my favorite horror film, but my favorite movie of all time. It’s fitting that it is the subject of my final 10 Movies in 10 Days countdown. I saw Halloween on television as a kid and something about it captivated me. I think it's the perfect blend of atmosphere, music, setting, and the sheer terror that is Michael Myers…but honestly it’s one of those films that I just plug in to. I own multiple copies, from original releases to collector’s editions, in all formats I've been able to get my hands on…from VHS to Blu-Ray. I've seen re-releases in theaters every time they roll around, and I can pretty much sit down and watch it any day of the week. In other words, I seriously love this movie.
As I’ve seen Halloween on television, VHS, Blu-Ray, and in the movie theater, I've got to say that Blu-Ray is the best way to watch Halloween. With old horror movies I'm a bit of a purist and I enjoy the grainy feel of a well used VHS. Not so with Halloween, mainly because there's a lot you miss out on due to the fact that it's shot in near darkness for a large portion of the film. Blu-Ray gives you the clearest, purest view into that darkness and you see little glimpses of things that are just lost in the muddy haze of greyish-black backgrounds in the other formats. That being said, all versions are an enjoyable experience. Tension trumps all and Halloween has it in spades.
Though not the first slasher film, it was the first to popularize the sub-genre of horror. It created dozens of imitators and was the gatekeeper to the second golden age of horror that extended into the 1980s. Director John Carpenter and his ragtag crew shot the film on just $300,000 and proved that you don't need a huge budget to make a great film. It went on to make over $75 million worldwide, which equates to close to $300 million by today's standards. In other words, it was a massive success. This was no thanks to critics, who almost universally panned the film. Strong word of mouth and repeat viewings eventually led to success, also forcing critics to take another look at what they'd once panned as schlock. The film now enjoys a 92% Fresh Rating at Rottentomatoes aggregate site.
Halloween has stood the test of time and deserves its revered spot in the upper echelon of horror. Its use of perfect sound cues, clever camera angles, and a reliance on atmospheric scares over blood splatter sets it apart from the films that have tried to copy it, including the many sequels. Sure, I'm biased, but tell me you don't get chills when you hear the Halloween theme.