A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
On HALLOWEEN in 1963, Michael Myers stalks and kills his own sister after she has sex with her boyfriend. Some 15 years later, Michael escapes from an asylum on the anniversary of the murder. He soon becomes fixated on three high school girls who are looking forward to hot dates and a horror-movie marathon on trick-or-treat night -- all except for bookish Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), who has to babysit. While Michael's psychiatrist leads a skeptical sheriff around town in search of Michael, the killer gets to the schoolmates, one by one, until he's left with just Laurie, who's like Sigourney Weaver in Alien, terrified but resourceful enough to fight back. (Of course, she's not caught unawares in bed with a boyfriend, either.)
Is it any good?
Despite some unnecessary R-rated elements, this movie still provides frightening moments with more taste and subtlety (you rarely ever see any blood -- you just think you do) than its imitators. Like Hitchcock, Carpenter has an innate sense of exactly where to put the camera, how to light a scene, and what to have going on in the frame to make you shudder and jump. His use of careful silences and the sudden bursts of his now-famous pulsating electronic musical score are especially unnerving and effective.
If critics could send a Terminator robot back in time to destroy a movie at the film-processing lab, all because of the countless trashy ripoffs and imitations it would inspire, Halloween would probably be the main target. But many critics hail the original Halloween as a masterpiece, and it earned then-largely unknown director John Carpenter a reputation as the new Alfred Hitchcock (maybe Orson Welles is more accurate, since Carpenter has never been quite able to make as big a hit again).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes Halloween so scary, especially because it doesn't fall back on using gore-makeup effects or fancy, swooping digital camera angles. Parents might point out that director Carpenter pays tribute to the science-fiction classic The Thing (1951), which took a similar straightforward approach to a homicidal space monster (and somehow avoided sex-minded teenagers and curse words in the process).