Scene for scene, John Carpenter’s Halloween may reign as the greatest horror movie of all time. The simplicity, the suspense, the music, and the style have often been imitated, but never duplicated. Released in 1978 on a dinky $300,000 budget, the 30-year-old filmmaker terrified us by bringing an evil, relentless force to a place that could have been any small town in America.
An uncomplicated maniac
No horror movie since has matched the film’s primal brutality; the tale of an uncomplicated maniac who, years after butchering his own sister, becomes fixated upon teenager Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), and spends October 31st murdering her friends. Michael Myers didn’t have Freddy’s bladed fingers or Jason’s inventiveness — He just stalked and stabbed in silence, as we watched the unthinkable unfold in the gaps between our fingers.
The scariest scene in John Carpenter’s original 1978 Halloween is completely bloodless. It takes place at night, on a patch of lawn in the perfectly leafy suburb of Haddonfield, Illinois. Just a few moments earlier, the masked babysitter-stalker Michael Myers had been stabbed, shot, and sent falling to the ground — and to his ostensible death. Seconds later, though, the yard is once again empty. When no one was looking, the unstoppable Myers somehow got up and disappeared into the dark, presumably to kill again. He could now be anywhere.
— Brian Raftery / Wired Magazine
Halloween (1978) Trailer
Scary movie honorable mentions
In chronological order:
- The Exorcist (1973)
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
- Jaws (1975)
- Alien (1979)
- The Shining (1980)