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Film / Halloween (1978)

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The boogeyman is coming...

"I met him fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left; no reason, no conscience, no understanding — in even the most rudimentary sense — of life or death, of good or evil, of right or wrong. 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 realized that what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... evil."
Dr. Sam Loomis

Halloween is a 1978 American horror film directed by John Carpenter (who also co-wrote the screenplay with producer Debra Hill) that has gone on to become one of the most profitable independent films of all time as well as one of the most influential works of modern screen horror. It's credited with codifying the Slasher Movie formula first conceived by such earlier films as Psycho, Black Christmas, and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and is generally regarded as the genre's first true entry.

Halloween night, 1963: In Haddonfield, Illinois, six-year-old Michael Myers picks up a kitchen knife and stabs his teenage sister Judith to death without any explanation. Michael is subsequently committed to Smith's Grove Sanitarium, where he is put under the watchful eye of Dr. Samuel Loomis (Donald Pleasence). Fifteen years later — on the night before Halloween — he escapes from the asylum and heads for home, with Loomis in pursuit. Back in Haddonfield, meanwhile, shy teenager Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) takes a job as a babysitter for Halloween. As the night of masks draws nearer, she keeps noticing an eerie masked figure stalking her. While Laurie suspects one of her schoolmates is playing a harmless Halloween prank on her, she and her friends have no idea of the danger awaiting them and Haddonfield...

Produced on a shoestring budget, Halloween became a massive success on its release and inspired countless other slasher films in its wake. It also spawned an extensive movie franchise starting with Halloween II (1981), followed by a remake/franchise reboot in 2007. Then, in 2018, yet another film in the series was created as a direct sequel to this film, ignoring all the others.

It's Halloween. I guess everyone's entitled to one good trope:

  • Action Survivor: Laurie becomes this. Despite being a shy high school student, she's able to fight off the killer three times and does her best to protect the children.
  • Ambiguously Human: For most of the movie, Michael seems to just be an insane man who can't (or won't) speak, but Dr. Loomis insists that there's something not quite human about him. Towards the end, we see some compelling evidence to support this idea, as he displays superhuman levels of endurance and pain tolerance, even quickly getting up after being shot six times in the chest and falling out a second-floor window.
  • And Starring: A 19-year-old Jamie Lee Curtis gets an "And Introducing" credit in her star-making debut.
  • Anti-Climactic Unmasking: Michael is unmasked while struggling with Laurie, and he is revealed to be...a normal-looking young man (a 23-year-old Tony Moran). The eye injury he's just received in the previous scene does make him look creepy, however.
  • Apathetic Citizens: Nobody responds to Annie desperately honking her car horn while being choked or Laurie’s screams for help as Michael chases her across the street.
  • Artistic License – Physics: There is no plausible way a grown person's body could be pinned up on a wall with nothing more than a carving knife through the abdomen.
  • Ax-Crazy: Michael is somewhat of a subversion, in that he is more calm and quiet than crazy, but is still a cold-blooded homicidal maniac without conscience who is driven to kill.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Michael kills a couple of dogs over the course of the movie, though not For the Evulz. The first is implied to be killed for food, and the second is killed to stop it from giving away his presence by barking and to ensure it doesn't attack him since it is being threatened. This doesn't really make its death any easier to watch, however.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: At one point during the final chase, Laurie locks herself in a room and tries to escape through the back door. While she's fiddling with a barricade, Michael punches right through the door and unlocks it.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: Michael kills Lynda while dressed as one.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Laurie to Tommy and Lindsey. After all, she is their babysitter.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Loomis finally catches up with Michael at the very end, just in time to save Laurie.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: The three girls: Lynda (big, as the tallest and most statuesque), Laurie (thin, with a more slender build) and Annie (short, at 5’3”, noticeably shorter than the 5’7” Laurie and 5’8” Lynda).
  • Billed Above the Title: "Donald Pleasence in John Carpenter's Halloween"
  • Bittersweet Ending: Annie, Bob, and Lynda got murdered. Even though our heroes Laurie, Tommy, Lindsey, and Dr. Loomis survive, Michael vanishes despite being shot by Loomis and thrown over a balcony.
  • Bloodless Carnage: There are only two shots in the whole film with actual blood, and neither is particularly explicit. Laurie even walks (or rather limps) through the kitchen where Bob was Impaled with Extreme Prejudice and finds no blood at all.
  • Blue Is Heroic: Laurie is the Final Girl and spends the second half of the film wearing a blue shirt and blue bell bottoms.
  • Book Ends: We open with a POV of Michael approaching his house on Halloween night, 1963, and we close with a shot of the Myers house, broken down and abandoned on Halloween night, 1978.
  • Brake Angrily: Michael speeds past the girls while driving Loomis's car, prompting Annie to call out, "Hey, jerk! Speed kills!" He slams the brakes, then drives away after a suspenseful Beat.
  • The Bully: Three mean kids tease Tommy about the Boogeyman in the schoolyard, causing him to fall on his pumpkin and crush it.
  • Bystander Syndrome: While being pursued by Michael during the climax, Laurie bangs on the door of a neighbor's house and screams for help. They turn their lights on, peer through a window and see her...and then shut the lights back off a few seconds later.
  • Call-Back: Three older boys tease Tommy about being scared of the Boogeyman. Later in the film, Dr. Loomis scares away the same three boys as they're about to enter the Myers house.
  • Cat Scare:
    • Early in the film, Laurie — walking home from school and having already caught a brief glimpse of Michael standing behind a hedge—is startled by Sheriff Brackett bumping into her on the sidewalk.
      Brackett: (grinning) You know, it's Halloween. I guess everyone's entitled to one good scare, huh?
    • Later, there's a scene where Loomis and Brackett are exploring the abandoned Myers house and a broken gutter suddenly crashes through a window, causing a startled Loomis to whip out a handgun.
      Loomis: (catching Brackett staring at the gun) You must think me a very sinister doctor. (chuckles nervously) Oh, I do have a permit. (fishes it out and shows it to Brackett)
      Brackett: Seems to me you're just plain scared.
      Loomis: Yes. Yeah, I am. (goes into monologue quoted up top)
    • Still later, Loomis — keeping watch outside of the Myers house — scares off a group of boys from nosing around...and gets spooked himself when Brackett comes up behind him and puts a hand on his shoulder. Brackett really likes to sneak up on people, apparently.
  • Catchphrase: Lynda drops "totally" into a lot of her sentences. Debra Hill claims it reached Memetic Mutation levels with a few teens in one showing she went to.
  • Cerebus Call-Back: Laurie gets scared early in the film by an ominous-sounding phone call...which turns out to be Annie. She later overhears Lynda being strangled over the phone and assumes it's Annie playing another prank.
  • Characters as Device: Michael does nothing but murder people, for which he has no motive and from which he gets no benefit. He's simply a monster to threaten our main heroine. It's intentional in this case, as Carpenter set out to make Michael impossible to sympathize with or even understand.
  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: Downplayed, but Annie is the sheriff's daughter. She smokes weed, plans to have underage sex, and abandons the girl she's babysitting.
  • Color Wash: Cinematographer Dean Cundey used this to give the daytime scenes an autumnal brown tint and the night scenes an eerie blue one. (The 2003 DVD transfer of the film "fixed" this, much to the dismay of Cundey and the fans. Fortunately, the issue was largely rectified for the 35th Anniversary DVD/Blu-ray release in 2013.)
  • Contrived Coincidence: Loomis arrives at Smith's Grove to escort Michael to a mandatory court hearing on the very night (and at the very time) of his escape, thus allowing Michael to make off in his car.
    • This may not be a contrived coincidence at all but could have actually been planned for by Michael, as he would've known Loomis would be coming to take him to the hearing that night. He waited 15 years to break out, which makes it seem like this was exactly the opportunity he was waiting for.
  • Cool Big Sis: While not biologically related to him, Laurie behaves like an older sister to Tommy Doyle, a neighborhood boy she often babysits. Tommy seems genuinely fond of her as well.
  • Creator Cameo: John Carpenter provides The Voice of Annie's boyfriend, Paul, over the phone.
  • Credits Gag: The score is credited as being performed by "The Bowling Green Symphony Orchestra," a fictional name. John Carpenter (who attended college in Bowling Green, Kentucky) did it all himself.
  • Creepy Child: Michael is first visible as a blank-faced child in a clown costume holding a bloody knife.
  • Curse Cut Short: Subverted, after Annie complains that Paul is grounded and "can't come over tonight".
    Laurie: (to Annie) I thought you were babysitting tonight?
    Lynda: The only reason she babysits is to have a place to—
    Laurie: (realizing she's forgotten something) Shit!
    Annie: I have a place for that.
  • Cut Phone Lines: Laurie finds them at the Doyle house she's chased into towards the end after being chased there by Michael when he slashes her.
  • Cute Bookworm: Laurie is bookish and an excellent student as well as desirable, albeit with a rather Plain Jane fashion sense.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Laurie's the first person in the film to escape from and injure Michael.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: When Annie gets in the car, Michael is behind her. He strangles her, then slashes her throat.
  • Daylight Horror: Michael Myers stalks Laurie Strode and her friends through the sunny, idyllic streets of Haddonfield in the middle of the day.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Annie's corpse is left posed on the bed with Judith's gravestone above her head.
  • Dead Man Honking: Annie Brackett falls dead on her car horn after Michael Myers cuts her throat.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Annie, and to a lesser extent, Laurie.
  • Dies Wide Open: Annie, Bob, and Lynda all end up this way.
  • Disconnected by Death: Lynda gets strangled to death by a phone cord mid-conversation.
  • Dramatic Thunder: Michael's escape from Smith's Grove takes place during a thunderstorm.
  • Dramatic Unmask:
  • Drone of Dread: Most of the murders in the film are accompanied by one of these in the score.
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous: All three female victims are killed in a state of undress. Judith is wearing only panties, Annie has pulled a Sexy Shirt Switch, and Lynda is presumably nude although we only see her top half.
  • Dual Wielding: Michael stole two knives from the hardware store. However he doesn't use both at once, as he discards the first knife he's using after Laurie stabs him in the neck (it's shown on the floor in the closing montage) and then brings out the second, which Laurie uses to stab him again when he attacks her in the closet.
  • Dull Surprise:
    • Young Michael's parents' reaction to discovering him in front of the house dazedly clutching a bloodied carving knife. His mom even casually places her hands in her pockets.
    • Loomis, after seeing Michael's body missing at the end. The idea behind this is presumably that Loomis, believing Michael to be pure evil, is unsurprised at his quarry's escape.
  • Dumb Blonde: Lynda, the blond cheerleader, rattles off all of the school books she regularly "forgets" to take home from school, which amounts to all of them.
  • The End... Or Is It?: Michael Myers is shot repeatedly at point-blank range and then falls from a second-story balcony. When Loomis goes to look, however, the body is gone. Turns out he really was the Boogeyman. Thus, the parade of sequels begins...
  • Enemy Rising Behind: One of the movie's most famous scares has a Not Quite Dead Michael Myers slowly rising up behind an exhausted Laurie after she (and we) think she killed him.
  • Enfant Terrible: Michael commits seemingly motiveless murder at the age of six.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Myers kills his sister at the age of six, establishing that he is the villain of the story.
  • Everytown, America: Haddonfield, Illinois, the fictional town where the majority of the story takes place, is your typical "all-American" town with idyllic suburban streets, friendly townsfolk, and the local high school girls babysitting the little ones.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Lester, the Wallaces' German shepherd, barks at Michael hiding behind the bushes...until Michael strangles him.
  • Evil Phone:
    • Subverted when Laurie — already starting to freak out after having seen Michael watching her in several places, including her nextdoor neighbor's backyard — answers a ringing phone but gets no response from the other end save for gross munching noises. She hangs up, the phone rings again, she warily answers...and it's Annie, who wants to know why she hung up before (and explains that she couldn't talk with a mouthful of food...although why you would call someone to talk when you have a mouthful of food and ''can't'' talk is anyone's guess).
    • Played straight later on, when Michael strangles Lynda with the phone cord just as she calls Laurie. Michael then picks up the phone to listen to Laurie's frantic cries, before calmly hanging up.
  • Eye Scream: It's not particularly detailed or gory, but Laurie stabs Michael in the eye with a hanger at the end of movie. Michael being Michael, he just walks it off.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: Once Michael Myers appears on screen as a child. It may be hard to believe that a child with a harmless and innocent appearance is the psychopathic Ax-Crazy Serial Killer of the whole movie. Even after being unmasked towards the end of the movie, he resembles nothing so much as a normal, even handsome, young man.note 
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • Loomis hangs around the Myers house for hours before noticing that the car Michael stole from the asylum is parked a little way down the street in plain sight.
    • Earlier, when he finds Michael's discarded hospital clothes, he leaves just before he would've found the body of the guy Michael killed for his coveralls.
    • When going to meet Paul, Annie finds her car door locked and promptly goes to retrieve them. Upon returning, the same door is open and she obliviously gets in, only noticing something is off after noting the amount of condensation on the glass. Michael then promptly attacks from the back seat.
  • Fanservice:
    • In the opening scene, we get a glimpse of Judith topless and in panties through Michael's mask before he stabs her.
    • Later we see Annie topless and in panties (albeit from the back) after she gets hot butter on her clothes and removes them before changing into a man's dress shirt as Michael watches from outside.
    • Lynda also gets a scene topless...though it quickly turns into Fan Disservice when Michael starts strangling her and later when her corpse is put in a closet.
  • Fan Disservice: Judith, Annie, and Lynda are all in various states of undress during their very unnerving death scenes with Laurie finding the corpses of the latter two.
  • Final Girl: Laurie Strode is the Trope Codifier for a shy, virginal, and more morally upright girl surviving - while her outgoing, sexually active, troublemaking friends die.
  • The Foreign Subtitle: The Night of Masks (Finland), The Night of the Witches (Italy), The Night of Horror (Germany).
  • Genre Savvy: Sheriff Brackett wants to alert the public that Michael is at large in Haddonfield, but Loomis dissuades him.
    Loomis: No. If you do that, they'll see him on every street corner. They'll look for him in every house. Just tell your men to keep their mouths shut and their eyes open.
  • The Ghost: Ben Tramer, Laurie's crush.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Little Lindsey Wallace wears her hair like this.
  • Going by the Matchbook: Dr. Loomis finds a garage mechanic's abandoned pickup truck, and on the ground next to it is the same matchbook carried by the nurse who was with him when Michael Myers escaped the previous night. She leaves her matches in the car Michael stole, and they wind up on the ground next to the truck belonging to the guy he stole his jumpsuit from.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • While killing Judith, Michael turns his head away after the first few stabs so we can't see anything other than the blade rising and falling (though we do see her as she falls over dead).
    • Lynda falls out of frame as she's being strangled so that she's not visible in her final moments.
  • Grave Robbing: An unorthodox example; Michael steals his sister's gravestone and later deposits it on the Wallaces' bed behind Annie's corpse.
  • Half Empty Two Shot: Used when Michael emerges from the closet to attack Laurie.
  • Halloween Episode: The film takes place almost entirely on two Halloween nights, 15 years apart. This was the idea of the film's financier, Moustapha Akkad.
  • Hand-or-Object Underwear: Judith reflexively covers her breasts when she spots little Michael in her bedroom, then keeps them there in a vain effort to defend herself from his attack.
  • Hidden Depths: Laurie Strode — sweet, nerdy, pure, virginal Naïve Everygirl — can hold her own against a psychotic killer.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Michael gets stabbed with his own knife by Laurie. This temporarily puts him down.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Halloween was one of the first horror movies to use the blue filter for night scenes.
  • Homage:
  • Hope Spot: Annie is saved from being trapped in the window and looks like she'll be safe as she prepares to meet up with her boyfriend Paul. Michael then kills her.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: As the title suggests, the movie takes place on Halloween, with only a single scene (Michael's escape from Smith's Grove) not definitely happening on October 31st.
  • Horror Host: A TV station in Haddonfield (or some nearby city) has one of these, as referenced by Annie in dialogue.
    Annie: I plan on making popcorn and watching Dr. Dementia. Six straight hours of horror movies. Little Lindsey Wallace won't know what hit her.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Loomis spooks a few neighborhood kids and smirks to himself as he watches them flee, then gets startled himself when Sheriff Brackett puts a hand on his shoulder.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Bob is (somehow) pinned to a wall with a knife.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Michael picks off the other victims easily, but he fails to stab Laurie in the first encounter when she was defenseless and caught off-guard. His swing only tears one of her sleeves and draws her blood a bit. She gets more injured from the subsequent fall to downstairs, however.
  • Implacable Man: Michael cannot be reasoned with and keeps on trucking through multiple stabbings, gunshots, and a multistory fall.
  • Improvised Weapon: Laurie uses a knitting needle and a coat hanger to fight off Michael in the Doyles' house.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The title is rendered onscreen as "John Carpenter's Halloween". This was the first of many Carpenter films to be billed in this manner.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: Composed by John Carpenter himself.
  • Intro-Only Point of View: The first several minutes of the film are shown from Michael's perspective as he walks around his house, fetches a kitchen knife, and murders his sister. This style made The Reveal that he's only six years old all the more shocking (at the time, anyway).
  • Invisible Parents: The only characters' parents shown are Michael's, as well as Laurie's and Annie's fathers, and only the latter — Sheriff Brackett — gets any significant screentime or involvement in the plot. Michael's parents are only shown for a moment and we hardly even see their faces, while Laurie's dad is only seen for a few seconds.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: Chanted by a bunch of unseen kids after the opening credits.
    "Black cats and goblins and broomsticks and ghosts
    Covens of witches with all of their hosts
    You may think they scare me; You're probably right
    Black cats and goblins on Halloween night
    Trick or treat!"
  • Irony: Immediately after taunting Tommy about the boogeyman, a bully runs directly into the boogeyman himself.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Dr. Loomis's treatment of Michael as a barely human "it" is established with this exchange with the nurse driving him to the asylum.
    Dr. Loomis: Don't underestimate it.
    Nurse: Don't you think we should refer to "it" as "him?"
    Dr. Loomis: If you say so.
  • Kick the Dog: Michael kills two of them, and it's implied that the first one was for food.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Myers gives one of Tommy Doyle's bullies a good scare after said bully taunts Tommy about the boogeyman.
  • Made of Iron: Michael. He takes a knitting needle in the neck, a clothes hanger through the eye, his own knife in his gut, six bullets in the abdomen, and a fall onto his back from a second-story balcony, and that doesn't kill him.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Michael's either a) a literal supernatural boogeyman who can't be destroyed, or b) just an extremely tough and resilient psychopath. The film's ambiguous enough to allow either interpretation, although the ending strongly suggests the former.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Michael's modus operandi. He spends far more time stalking and watching his victims than actually attacking them.
    • Throughout the film, Michael can be spotted lurking in the background, particularly in the scene set in the aftermath of Michael breaking into the hardware store. In that scene, Dr. Loomis is in the foreground and Michael is driving the stolen car in the background right behind him.
    • During Annie's attempt at washing her soiled blouse, Michael can be seen watching her through the windows.
    • He also lurks in a similar way while she chats on the phone with her boyfriend Paul.
    • While Laurie is telling Tommy and Lindsey that she killed Michael, Michael's shadow can be seen behind her as he comes upstairs to attack her again.
  • Monster Clown: Michael's childhood Halloween costume. Was considered for the adult Michael as well, but the filmmakers wound up going with the soon-to-become iconic blank, white mask instead of a clown mask.
  • Monster Misogyny: While Michael does kill two men in the movie, they're mostly for practical purposes (killing the trucker for his clothes and killing Bob simply because he surprised him) but he appears to be primarily fixated on teenage girls, even from childhood. He also stalks and voyeuristically watches only his female victims and appears to enjoy their terror and suffering.
  • The Mountains of Illinois: The movie was filmed in California in the spring, but set in Illinois during the fall. You can see mountains in the background as Loomis is talking in a phone booth and palm trees as Laurie and Tommy are walking to school. The trees are also rather suspiciously verdant for all of the dead leaves scattered on the ground.
  • Ms. Fanservice: All three female victims spend a good portion of their screentime in some state of undress. Annie's wardrobe is particularly gratuitous, as she finds a way to need a Sexy Shirt Switch while in the middle of babysitting and then manages to trap herself in a window so her panty-clad rump is sticking up in the air.
  • Mugged for Disguise: Or in this case murdered for disguise, as Michael evidently acquired his blue coveralls in this manner. Loomis happens upon the scene of the murder but misses the tow-truck driver's body.
  • Murderer P.O.V.: Sometimes accompanied by Vader Breath.
  • Neck Lift: Michael does this to Bob before killing him.
  • Nice Mean And In Between: The three girls again: Laurie is the Nice, responsible bookworm, Annie has a Mean, sharp tongue and Lynda is the In-Between — still rebellious but more vapid.
  • No Ending: Michael is shot several times and presumed dead, but vanishes without a trace moments later. Laurie screams in horror as Loomis gazes out into the darkness. End of movie.
  • Not So Above It All: Laurie gets in a couple of digs at Annie, notably teasing her for "exploring uncharted territory" when Paul drags her into the boys' locker room and quips "oh, fancy" when she sees Annie's Sexy Shirt Switch.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Used throughout the film, most effectively in the final scene. Michael's ominous breathing grows louder and louder as we see shots of some of the places he's been during the final act, until...the credits roll.
  • Novelization: Out of print and tough to find now, it revealed a few plot points about Michael. For instance, it answers the Plot Hole about how Myers knows how to drive — by carefully watching Loomis operate the car during their many sessions apparently. It also heavily suggests that Michael is possessed by the ghost of an ancient Celtic boy who murdered a girl he was in love with, making Michael an innocent victim. It also explains the wrench that can be seen in his hand when he smashes the window to scare Marion (he used it to smash the locks in the other patients' rooms, allowing them to wander outside).
  • Obvious Stunt Double: In an unusual inversion, Nick Castle, a stunt actor, plays Michael throughout the film, including when Michael jumps up onto the car roof in the beginning, and his face is briefly visible, clearly not played by the same actor who appears for one scene where Michael is unmasked by Laurie. Instead of an obvious stunt double, we have ourselves an obvious face double.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Michael is very effective at sneaking around, oftentimes impossibly so (his disappearing act behind the sidewalk shrub in broad daylight, then when he appears in Laurie's neighbor's backyard and disappears when the camera cuts away from him even though Laurie hasn't taken her eyes off him being particularly shining examples), which only adds to just how chilling and otherworldly he is.
  • The Oner: The opening scene is one continuous shot until the Dramatic Unmask.
  • Orphaned Setup: A non-joke variant comes when the cemetery keeper begins to tell Loomis about another grisly past incident from the next town over, but gets cut off before he can finish.
  • Peek-a-Boo Corpse: Laurie finds all three of her murdered friends in a 15-second span near the end of the film, the last two via this trope. This setup was mercilessly poached by future franchise nemesis Friday the 13th movies for most of their climaxes.
  • Police Are Useless: Downplayed compared with other slasher movies. Sheriff Brackett does take Loomis's warnings seriously and joins him on an all-night stakeout of Michael's childhood house. Unfortunately, Michael's actions don't meet Loomis's expectations, and he and Brackett only belatedly realize what's happening. On the other hand, Michael burgles a hardware store early in the day and the police don't find out until hours later. It’s also possible that this wasn’t Michael, considering the thief stole multiple knives (Michael only uses one) and rope (we never see Michael with any).
  • Pom-Pom Girl: Lynda's Establishing Character Moment is talking about all the new cheers she has to learn.
  • Quizzical Tilt: Michael does one after killing Bob. The actor was told to regard him like he would a butterfly collection.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The original script had the murders take place over several days. Due to the low budget, the film's financier suggested setting the bulk of the film's action during one night: Halloween. This would minimize the sets and costume changes as well as provide a strong theme (and a title) to the film.
  • Re-Cut: The 1981 NBC broadcast featured a new cut of the movie with less violence and 12 minutes of additional scenes shot during the production of first sequel with mostly the same crew, and Pleasence, Curtis, Soles, and Kyes reprising their roles. They were all toward the beginning of the film, and mostly just exist to pad out the runtime and tie the story more directly into the sequel. This cut was used for almost all TV broadcasts until the late '90s when the film was first remastered. Around that time, an "extended cut" was also released on VHS and DVD that was the original theatrical cut with the additional scenes included. These scenes were also included as a separate bonus feature on the 2013 Blu-ray, but, due to fan demand, the full "extended cut" was included in the deluxe box set in HD as a bonus feature (with the added scenes in SD). Fan reaction to these scenes is mixed. They're generally accepted as canonical, but some (including Carpenter himself) think they hurt the movie's pace and establish too much backstory. There are also fans that can't watch this movie without them. Since they set up the future sequels, they work better when this film is viewed more as the first entry in the franchise instead of a standalone feature. However, the sore thumb scene that sticks out most of all is the one detailing the aftermath of Michael's escape from his room, where he's written "SISTER" on the door as a way of retconning why Michael escapes and stalks Laurie. Carpenter has long regretted desperately coming up with Laurie's and Michael's sibling relationship while drunk and trying to think up a way to force the story to continue into a second film when he felt that there was nowhere else for the story to go after the first, considering it a huge mistake, and he's finally gotten his wish to pull Canon Discontinuity on that contrivance with the new trilogy of sequels beginning with Halloween (2018), on which he serves as an executive producer and composer. These films are a direct continuation of the story after the original film and write every single sequel out of canonicity, including specifically addressing and discrediting any claim that Laurie and Michael are siblings, and as such, due to Carpenter's direct involvement, this scene and all the pre-2018 sequels are now officially non-canonical.
  • Red Herring: Loomis stakes out the old Myers home, thinking that Michael will return there out of instinct. He's right, but Michael had already been there earlier in the day and seemed to have no plans to return the same evening.
  • Riddle for the Ages: We never find out how Michael escaped from the asylum. Loomis and a nurse arrive and find that the patients are all milling around the grounds, with Michael lying in wait. The only hint is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it flash of a wrench Michael is carrying.
    • We also never find out what the man from the cemetery keeper's anecdote did with the hacksaw...
  • Scenery Porn: This film features some of the best cinematography in Carpenter's career, such as leaves blowing around on a sidewalk.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Judith and her boyfriend make out on the couch, then head upstairs. From Michael's POV outside, we see the lights in her room go out, telling us that they're having sex.
  • Sexy Shirt Switch: Annie soils her clothes while cooking, so she spends the rest of her time in the film walking around in panties and a man's Oxford shirt.
  • Sex Signals Death: Judith Myers, later Lynda and Bob. Annie is also killed on her way to have sex.
  • Shaped Like Itself:
    Tommy: But I saw the boogeyman! I saw him!
    Laurie: Okay, what did he look like?
    Tommy: Umm...the boogeyman!
  • Shout-Out:
  • Slashers Prefer Blondes: Lynda, although it's semi-averted by having brunette Annie get bumped off first. Michael's sister Judith is another aversion.
  • Smoking Hot Sex: Lynda and Bob light up in bed after their sex scene is done. Useful for TV edits of the film where the toplessness can be cut without losing the context of the scene.
  • Speed Sex:
    • Only a couple of minutes pass between when Judith and her boyfriend head upstairs to when we see him leaving.note 
    • Although we don't know how long they'd been going at it before we see them, Lynda and Bob have to stop their fun because a ringing phone keeps distracting Bob and causing him to lose his arousal. When they start up again, somehow only a few seconds pass before he manages to finish.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Pulled off repeatedly by the Shape, most notably in the ending. It is especially egregious at an earlier point of the film; Laurie sees Michael staring at her from a neighbor's yard, but after a close-up on Laurie that lasts all of a couple of seconds, he's gone without a trace, with no sign that Laurie had even taken her eyes off of him.
  • Stock Slasher: Together with Friday the 13th Part 2, Halloween serves as the Trope Codifier: Michael Myers sports a twisted Captain Kirk mask, never speaks, has superhuman endurance and resistance to pain, and wields a carving knife as a weapon.
  • Stoners Are Funny: Annie has a few amusing moments while high on marijuana. Laurie's pained hacking after trying to take a hit is also pretty funny.
  • Suburbia: Of the Midwestern variety (although it was actually filmed in the Los Angeles suburb of Pasadena). Also one of the first horror films to utilize the familiar suburban environment and a key contributor to the "suburban Gothic" sub-genre.
  • Take That!: Laurie has a dim view of Tommy's comic books.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: When Laurie briefly unmasks him, Michael looks like a normal young man, albeit with a freshly injured eye.
  • Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: The Shape (aka Michael Myers) is repeatedly compared to the boogeyman, apparently unkillable, and deeply enigmatic. He also seems to particularly target teenagers. In a subversion of this particular trope, he doesn't show much interest in actual children beyond stalking Tommy as he walks home from school.
  • Time Skip: After the opening, the film skips from 1963 to 1978.
  • Touch of the Monster: Evoked when Tommy peers out the window and sees Michael carrying Annie's lifeless body in this fashion into the Wallace house across the street.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The original theatrical trailer gives away the first scene's twist: that the killer is the victim's six-year-old brother.
  • Trope Codifier: Along with Friday the 13th (1980), this film serves as one for the slasher film genre.
  • Tuckerization:
    • Dr. Loomis is named after Sam Loomis from Psycho (and one of the hospital employees can be heard calling him Sam).
    • Tommy Doyle is named after Wendell Corey's policeman character from Rear Window.
    • Other characters are named after people Carpenter knew; Leigh Brackett was a screenwriter who often worked with Howard Hawks, Michael Myers was a producer who'd entered Assault on Precinct 13 into European film festivals, and Laurie Strode was supposedly an old girlfriend.
  • Unbuilt Trope: One of the films that defined the Slasher Movie craze...only the killer's not all that invincible, the main adult character is actively hunting the killer down rather than being useless, the violence is shockingly bloodless by modern standards, there are only four onscreen deaths, the killer is deliberately given no Freudian Excuse,and under his mask, he's just a guy.
  • Uncanny Valley: The original Michael Myers Halloween mask was a Captain Kirk mask, spray-painted white and with the hair frizzed out and eyeholes altered. The effect is downright creepy.
  • Uncommon Time: The score uses deliberate repetition of 5/4 to unsettle the audience.
  • Vader Breath: Michael is constantly heard breathing heavily beneath his mask, a trait that was sadly phased out in later films.
  • Valley Girl: Lynda is "Totally!" a proto version of this. Amusingly enough, the movie was filmed in Southern California.
  • Wham Shot:
    • After The Shape has been defenestrated and is sprawled dead on the lawn, Loomis comforts Laurie. When he goes to look out the window, and the body is gone. The real horror is on Loomis's In-Universe Dull Surprise: he's resigned himself to the fact The Shape really is the Boogeyman.
    • When Laurie rips off Michael's mask, you'd expect to see a deformed monster like Freddy or even Jason...except it isn't the case. When Laurie removes his mask, Michael is seen as a normal looking twenty-three-year-old man, a complete aversion that he is a normal human being who's truly empty and soulless inside.
    • The Cold Open, where we are shown a First-Person Perspective of Michael's first-ever murder. He goes into a house, steals a knife, takes a mask, and stabs a girl to death. He then runs outside, where the girl's parents come home and take his mask off. We see that Michael is a six year old boy, and the girl he killed was his older sister.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After the opening prologue, we never see Michael's parents again or learn what happened to them.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: In the 1979 novelization based on the film, Michael Myers is portrayed as this. In the original film, however, this is absolutely avoided.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Ambiguous with Michael Myers. All of his victims are teenagers or adults, and he's never shown to be actively targeting pre-teen children except for when he stalks Tommy as he walks home from school. Whether this is due to happenstance or the fact that young kids just aren't on Michael's "to kill" radar screen is unclear. Either way, it isn't due to morality or conscience, as Michael has none; perhaps children just aren't as much of a thrill to go after as teens due to their helplessness.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Lampshaded by Laurie's English teacher during a class lecture... right after Laurie, gazing idly out the window, has caught a glimpse of Michael watching her from across the street.

Laurie Strode: It was the Boogeyman.
Dr. Loomis: As a matter of was.


Video Example(s):


Michael Myers

Michael Myers was a chilling but still very human sociopath, a carrier of pure evil before he became an incarnation of mysterious, ancient power that was even sought after by a Religion of Evil, etc. Notably, his powers were inexplicable in the first movie, attributed to what was behind his eyes being "pure evil" by Doctor Loomis and the Boogeyman by Laurie Strode. Later ideas would be that he had a psychic connection to his niece Jamie and was tied to a Samhain-worshiping cult. Most of these were retconned away by Halloween (2018).

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Main / OurSlashersAreDifferent

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