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The trick is to stay alive! 

Year: 1978 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by John Carpenter 
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasance, P.J. Soles  
An image from Halloween

Haddonfield, Illinois. It is Halloween night, 1963. Six-year-old Michael Myers dons a clown mask, picks up a large butcher’s knife and brutally stabs his seventeen year old sister to death. Locked away in a mental institution for fifteen years, Dr. Sam Loomis (Pleasence) can do nothing to crack his psyche. However, when Myers escapes one stormy night, Loomis is only too aware that he is heading home to Haddonfield and there will be hell to pay when he gets there. While Loomis enlists the help of the local sheriff, Myers is busy marking his prey, teenager Laurie Strode (Curtis) who he stalks constantly in and out of the shadows as she and her friends, Lynda and Annie make their Halloween plans. By nightfall, Laurie is doing her own and Annie’s babysitting jobs, while the other girls are in an empty house across the street. It becomes a race for time as Loomis hunts Myers through the streets, the body count starts to rise, and Laurie faces a terrifying confrontation with evil itself.

Shot in just 21 days and made on a budget of just $300,000, Halloween became the highest- grossing independent movie ever made at the time. Having spawned seven sequels, Freddy and Jason, and endless imitations, this is the original slasher-film. Here is the birth of the “horror film clichés” as described in Scream, like how someone’s chance of survival is directly proportional to their sexual experiences. When Myers bumps off his sister at the start of the film she has just had sex with her boyfriend and is sat naked in her room. The cast is impressive, with Jamie Lee Curtis establishing herself as the original scream queen and Donald Pleasance on typically fine form.

From the film’s opening when we watch Myers murder his sister through his mask eyeholes, to the tantalising end, Carpenter has created an atmospheric and tense horror, relying on the audience’s imagination to fear what lurks in every shadow. In this way Carpenter chooses to focus more on suspense than going for all out gore. And this is all topped off with the eerie electric score, composed by Carpenter himself and now one of horror’s most recognisable themes.

Hannah Upton

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Screenings of this film:

2004/2005 Autumn Term (35mm)
2018/2019 Spring Term (digital)