Classic Trailer Tuesday: Halloween (1978)


How could we let Halloween pass without paying homage to John Carpenter’s horror classic. Carpenter wanted to pay homage to Hitchcock’s masterpiece Psycho naming Donald Sutherland’s psychiatrist character Loomis after a character in that film as well as replicating . The casting of Jamie Lee Curtis, real life daughter of Psycho star Janet Leigh, in the lead role only added to the publicity.

While the film has a violent beginning, beautifully edited down in this trailer, the film slows down the pace becoming more about babysitting than anything else. It’s an exercise in building tension with an excellent combination of sound and visuals. The most important element of this is the Halloween theme composed by John Carpenter. It’s a simple repeating piano part accompanied by a moody bass line which combines to chilling effect making even the most innocuous of images appear sinister.

Halloween spawned a number of sequels and rip offs througout the 80s and 90s and now perhaps it might seem cliched but this film is the originator of these tropes and that they became repeated so often just shows how strong they were. When viewed in conjunction with other works, there is a definite problem with gender politics with any display of female sexuality leading to brutal murder but viewed alone it remains an effective piece of work.

The impact of Halloween has been diluted by time but it forever left its mark on the horror genre to the point where the conventions it established had to be subverted by Scream and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The legacy of Halloween lives on and for that reason, it’s a classic.

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