Halloween

Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 10 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.9

Universal acclaim- based on 244 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Fifteen years ago, Michael Myers brutally murdered his sister. Now, after escaping from a mental hospital, he's back to relive his grisly crime again, and again...and again. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 10
  2. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. Reviewed by: Chris Hewitt
    100
    Turn off the lights. Put on the widescreen version, showcasing Carpenter’s masterful framing and chill-inducing, Michael Myers-concealing use of shadows. Crank up the sound, and be scared witless by horror’s greatest director.
  2. 100
    From a shock-and-suspense point-of-view, Halloween is the rival of Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho." With only a few arguable exceptions (such as "The Exorcist"), there isn't another post-1970 release that comes close to it in terms of scaring the living hell out of a viewer... A modern classic of the most horrific kind.
  3. 100
    Halloween is an absolutely merciless thriller...I would compare it to "Psycho."
  4. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    80
    There's nary a drop of blood on screen in this rollicking funhouse of a movie but there is enough sheer cinematic ingenuity on display to coax screams out of the most jaded gorehound.
  5. Reviewed by: Mike Emery
    78
    Not entirely without some laughable or dated scenes, Halloween remains an original that continues to inspire a genre and probe middle America's fears about what's really lurking in the laundry room after midnight.
  6. Carpenter's brutally efficient exercise in tension and release.
  7. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    50
    After a promising opening, Halloween becomes just another maniac-on-the-loose suspenser. However, despite the prosaic plot, director John Carpenter has timed the film's gore so that the 93-minute item is packed with enough thrills.

See all 10 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 56 out of 65
  2. Negative: 2 out of 65
  1. Mar 12, 2011
    10
    Greatest horror film that has ever been made. This movie is amazing and will always be my favorite. It is so creepy and scary without evenGreatest horror film that has ever been made. This movie is amazing and will always be my favorite. It is so creepy and scary without even showing blood and gore. I can't imagine not loving this movie. This movie is horror! You can't top Michael Myers. John Carpenter is amazing!! Expand
  2. Aug 30, 2013
    10
    Revolutionary in fathering the slasher genre and catering to the masses without the blood and gore viewers are so sensitized by today. MovingRevolutionary in fathering the slasher genre and catering to the masses without the blood and gore viewers are so sensitized by today. Moving briskly at a pace in which the brooding fear of The Shape's attacks build you're left shivering in your seat as the excellent score carries the mood. Carpenter crafted an immaculate piece of Horror, without perverting art in the name of profit. Expand
  3. JoseD
    Aug 28, 2007
    10
    Whoever calls it cliched obviously doesn't have a clue about this Classic. In 1978 it was the first of it's kind. Let me put it Whoever calls it cliched obviously doesn't have a clue about this Classic. In 1978 it was the first of it's kind. Let me put it this way, if it wasn't for Halloween, there would never be a Jason, Freddy, Chucky.. etc. Do your homework before you write a review. Expand
  4. Dec 9, 2012
    10
    A brief retort to two common criticisms of this great, great movie.... 1) "Not a lot of big scares, lots of down time." These people have aA brief retort to two common criticisms of this great, great movie.... 1) "Not a lot of big scares, lots of down time." These people have a very loose grasp, if any, on the concept of building tension... To them, the scenes where the killer is peering in from the background are meaningless if they don't immediately culminate in a satisfying kill scene. This may seem funny to say, but this movie was made at a time when nobody knew who Michael Myers was or what he was capable of. Watching this movie through the eyes of a newcomer might help these people appreciate suspense. 2) "They don't give us a reason for all the killing" That's the point! It's scarier that way, if you don't even know what motivates the killer, then he becomes even less human. There's no emotion, no reasoning, just a body walking around, taking death wherever it goes. People who have a problem with this are simply too used to having each and every background detail spoon-fed to them to enjoy a movie that purposely leaves the darkest parts to the imagination. 3) I read one review calling this movie "cliched"... which hilariously overlooks the fact that Halloween *started all those cliches!* So essentially, this person blames this movie for being too much like the movies that copied it... have fun with that one.... Yes, this movie does have its shortcomings (acting, editing, modest production values) but it still stands as an understated masterpiece, and the granddaddy of a sub-genre all its own. The buildup and release of tension are timed as skilfully as any scare flick ever made, and the near-total lack of blood only serves to underline the fact that the world's first slasher flick got its teeth from real directing and storytelling as opposed to cheap visuals and gratuitous violence. JUST REMEMBER: this movie must be seen in full widescreen, otherwise the framing will ruin some key scenes. Expand
  5. Oct 10, 2013
    9
    The fun scare-fest that it is, Halloween fulfills all your expectations. It's creepy, messes with your mind, and suspense and horror areThe fun scare-fest that it is, Halloween fulfills all your expectations. It's creepy, messes with your mind, and suspense and horror are there. It avoids some horror movie clichés, but still uses some. But, maybe we can forgive that, since this movie was in 1978 when the clichés we see in horror movies nowadays were just starting out then. Expand
  6. Dec 3, 2013
    8
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. The build up to Halloween (the holiday, not the film) has inspired me to explore the old slasher ‘classics’ of the ‘70s and ‘80s, which until now has been something of a neglected pursuit. It transpires that they are often relentlessly formulaic and derivative, although this does serve to highlight the strengths of superior films in the genre.

    Traditionally, we are introduced to a group of carefree and naive teenagers who are then systematically and sadistically dispatched with varying creativity by an unseen killer. The film usually concludes with a battle between the now revealed killer and the final (usually female) survivor, culminating in an often mind bogglingly ambiguous climax.

    Artistic integrity aside, many of these killers have developed into iconic horror characters, and (sometimes in spite the original directors’ wishes) have spawned persistent franchises. It is thus with a sense of genuine curiosity that I look towards the horizon at the undoubtedly heady delights of Friday the 13th, Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) and an answer as to why Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) is followed by yet another three Nightmare on Elm Street films.

    Where better to start than with Halloween (the film, not the holiday)? Even if it didn’t spawn the genre, its global success certainly solidified it in the public consciousness. It brought horror away from the supernatural and into the idyllic streets of suburban America.

    Naturally, the film opens on Halloween night (purportedly chosen when director John Carpenter realised that nobody had yet made a film by that name) when a teenage girl is murdered by her own brother, the young Michael Myers. He bears a simple name that would come to represent evil incarnate, at least until it became irrevocably associated with a certain Canadian comic actor.

    The tagline “The night he came home!” is enough to reveal that the rest of the film takes place on a Halloween some fifteen years later, when an adult Michael escapes from a psychiatric hospital with the single minded objective of returning to his hometown and indulging his psychopathic tendencies.

    For reasons at yet unknown, his ultimate objective seems to be Laurie Strode, played by Jamie Lee Curtis in a role which would earn her the title of ‘scream queen’ and land her roles in the wave of slashers that appeared in Halloween’s wake, including Prom Night (1980) and Terror Train (1980).

    For all its commercial success, Halloween is at heart an independent film, one of Carpenter’s earliest, brimming with evidence of budgetary constraints and notably fraught with continuity and production errors. The famous mask was in fact a painted William Shatner mask from Star Trek, and the film was shot during spring in Southern California (not autumn in Illinois) on a tight schedule: Donald Pleasence, who played Michael’s psychiatrist Dr. Loomis, filmed all his scenes in under a week.

    Against this backdrop, Carpenter makes use of shadow and subtlety, rather than special effects. Those familiar with more modern films may be surprised by the low body count and lack of graphic violence. The slow pacing draws out the tension, and allows the character development that other such films lack. Much of the first half follows Laurie and her friends through their day, whilst Michael stalks them one step behind. He is the unsettling figure in the distance, always drifting in and out of sight. Only Laurie sees, and her distress falls on the deaf ears of her incredulous friends.

    Not everything about Halloween is completely original. At one point, Michael evokes a traditional campfire tale by hiding in the back seat of a victim’s car, a variant of which has appeared in everything from The Godfather (1972) to The Dark Knight (2008) and even in later slasher films.

    Pleasence steals the show as Dr. Loomis, bringing gravitas to a film of otherwise fluctuating acting quality. It’s faintly hammy, but the sinister British elocution provides a voice of reason and grim truth against the sea of American hysteria as he reveals the true depravity of his patient’s soul in one of the best quotes in the film:

    “I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes… the devil’s eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realised that what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply… evil.”

    We cannot deny that Loomis was right to be wary, but at its most cynical reading this paints a picture of a psychiatric system that has utterly failed Michael as a patient. Nevertheless, for a film which appears grounded in a real world interpretation of horror, there are undeniable echoes of the supernatural: Michael’s nigh immortality to the grievous wounds inflicted upon him lend credence to the diagnosis that there may be something truly diabolic at work.
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  7. Nov 8, 2014
    2
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I am a very easily scared person my sister has told me about scary movies and its scared me just so you get an idea of how easily frightened I am and quite frankly this movie was not scary I was only startled at two of the jump scares and it wasn't the big ones because I predicted where all of the other ones would be if i watch a horror movie and go home and walk into my house then go straight to my bedroom without turning any lights on i dont think a horror movie did its job and on top of the fact that this movie doesn't really have any good actors besides the professor who wasn't even that talented at that this movie was one of the worst movies I've ever seen and that's not an exaggeration Expand

See all 65 User Reviews

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