In the late ’70s, the face of horror and overall cultural landscape of American films as we knew it was changed forever when co-screenwriters John Carpenter and Debra Hill unleashed Michael Myers upon an unsuspecting world via the original Halloween, effectively launching a seemingly never-ending franchise and media machine.
Directed by Carpenter and released on October 25, 1978, the film centers around the aforementioned Myers (played primarily by Nick Castle in this entry), who stalked and killed his older sister Judith (Sandy Johnson) on Halloween night 1963. Fast forward to 1978, when after serving fifteen years in a mental facility under the care of Dr. Samuel Loomis (Donald Pleasence), he suddenly makes a break for it, just in time to return to his home town of Haddonfield, IL on (you guessed it), Halloween.
It’s there he encounters three unsuspecting babysitters whose fates will all be drastically changed; Annie (Nancy Loomis), Linda (P.J. Soles), and of course, the lone survivor (and epitome of heroines), Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). Meanwhile Loomis enlists the help of local sheriff Leigh Brackett (Charles Cyphers) to track down and prevent Myers from seeing through his devious acts.
Rewind It’s (l to r) Jacob, Jesse, and Brooke Striewski with actress P.J. Soles – who portrayed Lynda Van Der Klok in the original Halloween – at Fantasm in Orlando, FL on 10-3-21.
With a budget of larger than $325,000, the film quickly became one of the most successful independent films of all time after earning over $70 million at the box office, and is considered groundbreaking horror, and the go-to example to the slasher genre. Every last detail from its isolated, dark suburban setting, to the simplistic yet eerie music score by Carpenter, struck a lifelong nerve with audiences and non-horror fans alike.
Of course one can no longer talk about Halloween without mentioning its various sequels, remakes, and overall retreads. While 1981’s Halloween II directly followed the first film (and admirably at that), few that came after were able to re-capture that same “feel” as the original. 1982’s stand alone Halloween III: Season of the Witch (which I’ve mentioned before in previous articles was my introduction to the Halloween films, and still my personal favorite of them all to this day) saw filmmakers attempting to try something different, yet audiences were not ready for such drastic changes at the time.
After 1988’s Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, the series began declining considerably, with many of the entries released since being nearly unwatchable (most notably the latest “requels” that began in 2018 and concluded with last year’s notorious Halloween Ends). Yet whatever rehashes that have come and gone since, nothing can ever take away from the original “night he came home.”