Halloween (movie)The Halloween films are a series of horror movies considered among the most important and influential to the genre.
The first film, Halloween, was written and directed by John Carpenter and was released in 1978, starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasance. In the movie, six-year-old Michael Myers brutally kills his older sister in 1963 and is locked in a mental institution. Fifteen years later, he escapes and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois to continue his rampage.
Halloween is generally considered the first of a long line of modern-day "slasher" movies, though some film scholars (and cult movie fans) say the credit for this goes to either Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho or Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Nonetheless, this movie originated a great many of the clichés seen in countless low-budget "splatter" films of the 1980s and 1990s. (First-time viewers of Halloween may be surprised by the fact that compared to its many imitators and competitors, the original film actually has very few explicitly violent scenes.)
Deeper meaning has been read into this movie by some film critics, including the idea that everyone who dies in the film is sexually promiscuous, while the "innocent" (chaste) heroine survives. Carpenter has been quoted as saying that inclusion of this sort of morality into the story was entirely unintentional, and he did not mean for the movie to be seen as a form of "punishment" for sinners who indulge in sex and drug use. And yet the parallel between a character's moral strengths and their likelihood of not getting killed has become a standard slasher movie trope. Critic Roger Ebert has taken to calling this genre the "Dead Teenager Movie", the principal cliché of which is that the only teenager to survive is always the virginal girl who declines all of the vices (pot smoking, etc.) indulged in by those who end up skewered. And some other films in this genre have explored the sexual morality question from the other angle, drawing metaphorical parallels between sexual repression and the acts of the killer (as in William Lustig's Maniac).
Halloween’s success has led to a number of sequels, beginning with 1981's Halloween II, also written by Carpenter and directed by Rick Rosenthal. Carpenter was extremely displeased with it, describing it as "about as scary as an episode of Quincy" and, reportedly, reshooting many scenes himself.
A third film in the series, Halloween III: Season of the Witch was released in 1982. Whereas the first sequel had used similar plot themes and characters to the original, Halloween III was an entirely unrelated film, and was met with powerful derision by both critics and fans of the franchise.
Those left wanting more were rewarded, as a further five films based on the original's themes were made, the most recent being Halloween: Resurrection (2002). It must be noted that many of the original's fans are disenchanted by the seemingly endless spate of sequels, which are perceived as cynically-motivated moneymakers, rather than quality horror films made by dedicated filmmakers with a love for the originals and a genuine artistic vision.
See also: Halloween, the holiday for which the movie is named.