Many American holidays have their definitive films marking the occasion. For instance, John Hughes gave Thanksgiving and Christmas Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and Christmas Vacation, respectively. But best of all, at least in my opinion, is when John Carpenter gave us Halloween way back in 1978, when I was 14 years old. Specifically, Carpenter’s classic debuted on silver screens 41 years ago this very day: October 25th.
Halloween immediately left an indelible impact on popular culture. Critics lauded it with praise, as they very well should have, and audiences reacted viscerally to it; just check out this reaction track. It didn’t invent the slasher genre, but it certainly solidified it, which led to the deluge of copycats and ripoffs all throughout the 1980s. And ya know what? The franchise is still going today, even stronger than ever, some would say.
John Carpenter was originally hired when the film was still called The Babysitter Murders. Producer Irwin Yablans and financier Moustapha Akkad gave Carpenter very little to work with, outside of the fact that the film needed to take place on Halloween. What he and producer/co-writer Debra Hill, herself a wild success in Hollywood, came up with from essentially nothing but the word Halloween is simply incredible.
Michael Myers, originally called just The Shape, is the most enduring of the 80s villains and while I think Jason and/or Freddy may have been more popular in the late 80s and early 90s, neither of those two creeps can hold a candle to the original mouthbreather. Even at 61 years old (canonically), he’s a spry little mother who has no problem murdering actual mothers.
If I had to pick just one, I would have to say that Halloween is probably my favorite horror film of all time. It’s simple, efficient, and effective, and what more can you ask for from a movie?