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Film / Halloween (1978)

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Oh there's gonna be some carving alright.

"It's Halloween. I guess everyone's entitled to one good scare."
Sheriff Brackett

A 1978 independent horror film directed by John Carpenter (who also wrote the screenplay with producer Debra Hill), Halloween serves as the Trope Codifier for the Slasher Movie formula.

Halloween night, 1963: In Haddonfield, Illinois, six-year-old Michael Myers kills his teenage sister Judith with a kitchen knife without explanation. Young Michael ends up committed to Smith's Grove Sanitarium and placed under the watchful eye of Dr. Samuel Loomis (Donald Pleasence). Fifteen years later — on the night before Halloween — Michael escapes from the asylum and heads for home, with Loomis soon following in pursuit.

Back in Haddonfield, high school student Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) takes a job as a babysitter for Halloween. As the night of the masks draws nearer, she keeps seeing an eerie masked figure stalking her. While Laurie and her friends believe a schoolmate has played a Halloween trick on her, Laurie has no idea of the danger waiting for 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 a sequel, and with that an extensive franchise, 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.

This film features examples of:

  • 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.
  • 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. The eye injury he's just received in the previous scene does make him look creepy, however.
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  • 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.
  • Asshole Victim: The film's teenage victims, in an understated way.
    • Annie and Lynda are implied to regularly pass off their babysitting charges to Laurie, so they can party and have sex with their boyfriends, Paul and Bob. Annie also teases Laurie about her lack of a love life and Lynda, in an scene filmed for the television airing of the film, pressures Laurie into letting her borrow a blouse she had just gotten for her birthday.
    • Bob, Lynda's stoner boyfriend, who makes jokes about child molestation and has no qualms about trespassing in someone else's house.
  • 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 it's not entirely For the Evulz. The neighborhood dogs are going to be the first to notice a menacing stranger lurking in the neighborhood, so, strategically, he might have killed them to stop them from giving away his presence before he's ready. Not that that makes it any easier to watch.
  • 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, just in time to save Laurie.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: The three girls: Lynda (big, as the tallest and more statuesque), Laurie (thin, with a more slender build) and Annie (short; at 5’3”, she’s noticeably shorter than the 5’7” Laurie and 5’8” Lynda).
  • Billed Above the Title: "Donald Pleasence in John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN"
  • Bloodless Carnage: There are only two shots with 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 during the second half of the film she wears a blue dress 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 and screams for help at a neighbor's house. They turn their lights on, peer through a window... 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 (who responds with the quote up top).
    • 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.
    • Still later Loomis, keeping watch outside 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. Annie complains 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] Oh, 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 slashed her.
  • Cute Bookworm: Laurie is bookish and an excellent student as well as desirable.
  • 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.
  • Death by Sex: Judith Myers, later Lynda and Bob. Annie is also killed on her way to have sex.
  • 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.
  • Downer Ending: Annie, Bob and Lynda have been murdered. Laurie narrowly avoids death but Dr Loomis is unable to stop Michael, who vanishes. The sequels confirm that Laurie was traumatized forever by the incident.
  • Dramatic Thunder: Michael's escape from Smith's Grove takes place during a thunderstorm.
  • Dramatic Unmask:
    • In the intro, when the slasher-killer is unmasked to reveal... a six-year-old boy.
    • And again at the end, when the adult Michael is briefly unmasked to reveal... a normal-looking man.
  • 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 bare-breasted.
  • 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 shoves her hands in her pockets.
    • Loomis, after seeing Michael's body is gone at the end. The idea behind this is presumably that Loomis, having believed Michael 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.
  • Eat the Dog: Michael ate one of the dogs he killed. When Loomis finds the carcass, he remarks, "He got hungry".
  • The End... Or Is It?: Michael Myers is shot repeatedly at point-blank range and then falls from a second-story balcony. But when Loomis goes to look, the body is gone. Turns out he really was the Boogeyman. And the parade of sequels begin...
  • 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.
  • Enfant Terrible: Michael commits motiveless murder at the age of six.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Myers killing his sister at the age of six. While Annie, Bob and Lynda were Asshole Victims, Judith seemed to be a caring and responsible older sister (seen worrying about where her brother is when he's hiding outside) - and she's senselessly killed for no reason.
  • 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 own backyard — answers a ringing phone but gets no response from the other end save for 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).
    • 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 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 ways 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • Final Girl: Laurie Strode is the Trope Codifier for a shy, virginal and more moral girl surviving - while her rebellious, promiscuous friends die.
  • The Foreign Subtitle: The Night of Masks (Finland), The Night of the Witches (Italy), The Night of Horror (Germany).
  • The Ghost: Ben Tramer, Laurie's crush. Until the sequel.
  • 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 in it is the same matchbook carried by the nurse who was with him when Michael Myers escaped the previous night; she left her matches in the car Michael stole, and they wound up in the truck of 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 Wallace's 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... and can hold her own against a psycho 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 saved from being trapped in the window and looks like she'll be safe as she prepares to meet up with her boyfriend Paul. Then Michael 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 31.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Loomis spooks a few neighborhood kids and smirks to himself as he watches them flee, then gets started himself when Sheriff Bracket puts a hand on his shoulder.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Bob is pinned to the wall with a knife.
  • 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 Doyle's house.
  • 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 makes The Reveal that he's only six years old all the more shocking (at the time, anyway).
  • Invisible Parents: Laurie's father only appears for a few seconds toward the beginning of the film, and her mother isn't seen at all.
  • 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!"
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Dr. Loomis' 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.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Myers gives one of Tommy Doyle's bullies a good scare after said bully taunts Tommy about the boogeyman.
  • Knife Nut: When Michael isn't strangling someone, he's using a large carving knife.
  • 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 and a fall 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 more time lurking on his victims that actually attacking them.
    • Throughout the film, Michael can be spotted lurking in the background, particularly in the scene set in the aftermath of Micheal breaking into the hardware store. In that scene, Dr. Loomis is in the foreground and Michael is driving the stolen car in the background 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.
    • 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.
  • 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. 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: 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 sharp tongue. 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. Before the sequels, it's left open as to whether he'll keep attacking that very night.
  • 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 quipping "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 watching Loomis carefully 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: When Michael jumps up onto Loomis's car roof in the beginning, his face is briefly visible, and he's not played by the same actor who appears as Michael's unmasked face. Most noticeably, his hair is dark and slicked back, while Michael is established to have curly blond hair as a child and curly dark hair as an adult.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Michael is very effective at sneaking around, which only adds to just how chilling he is. During a scene where he's watching Annie, he's briefly seen standing in the open doorway behind her as the camera follows her away from it—it goes back a second later, and he's gone (eagle eyed viewers and still framing allows a viewer to catch a brief glimpse of his shadow as he flees, though).
  • 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 for most of their climaxes.
  • Police Are Useless: Downplayed compared to other slasher movies. Sheriff Brackett takes Loomis's warnings seriously and joins him on an all-night stakeout of Michael's old 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.
  • 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 during one night: Halloween. This would minimize the sets and costume changes as well as provide a strong theme 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 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 to 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 to 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 boxset 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.
  • Red Herring: Loomis stakes out the old Myers home, thinking that Michael will return there out of instinct. He's wrong.
  • 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.
    • We also never find out what the man from the graveyard owner's anecdote did with the hacksaw....
  • Scenery Porn: Some of the best cinematography in a Carpenter film, 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 stains her clothes while cooking, so she spends the rest of her time in the film walking around in a man's oxford shirt and panties.
  • She's Got Legs: Annie's Sexy Shirt Switch emphasizes Nancy Loomis's excellent legs.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • In many ways, this film can be seen as one to Psycho. One of the two main characters is played by Janet "Marion Crane" Leigh's daughter, and the other has the same name as Marion's lover. Many of the stylistic choices are also clearly influenced by Hitchcock, like a repetitive Leitmotif used for a butcher knife-wielding bad guy; the camera work in Michael's first kill, where we never see knife penetrate flesh, and the cuts between the Wallace house and the approaching Laurie echoes the scene where Lila walks towards the Bates home.
    • Carpenter stated that much of the film was strongly inspired by The Thing from Another World, one of his favorite films. Naturally, the characters are watching it on television. Carpenter would go on to film his own version of the film with The Thing (1982). invoked
    • It's also one to Black Christmas (1974), to the point where Halloween was intended to be a sequel to the former.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Pulled off repeatedly by the Shape, most notably in the ending. 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 few seconds, he's gone without a trace, with no sign that Laurie had even taken her eyes off of him.
  • 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 fairly 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 who are transgressive against social norms. In a subversion of this particular trope, he doesn't show much interest in actual children. However, Carpenter has denied that the film expresses a conservative viewpoint.
  • Time Skip: After the opening, the film skips from 1963 to 1978.
  • 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: Halloween, alongside Friday The 13th, serves as this for the slasher film genre.
  • Tuckerization: Ben Cramer, the guy Laurie has a crush on, is named after John Carpenter's writer friend Bennett Tramer (and Halloween II would confirm that his full name is Bennett in-universe too).
  • 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's only four onscreen deaths, the killer is deliberately given no Freudian Excuse, and under his mask he's just some random guy.
  • 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 phased out in later films.
  • Valley Girl: Lynda is "Totally!" a proto version of this. Amusingly enough the movie was filmed in 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' 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 thirty-year old-esque 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. In Halloween II it's finally revealed that they were killed in a car accident in 1965... and their youngest child, Laurie, was subsequently adopted by the Strodes.
  • 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.
  • 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 fact... it was.


Video Example(s):


Michael Myers

also known as "The Shape", Michael Myers is the main antagonist of the Halloween series, a silent murderer in a mask with a single-minded drive to kill Laurie Strode.

How well does it match the trope?

3.8 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / SerialKiller

Media sources:

Main / SerialKiller