John Carpenter’s 1978 Halloween is arguably the best horror film of all time. What makes it such a great film? You start with a brilliantly simple concept by Irwin Yablans: A babysitter to be killed by the boogeyman on Halloween night. Then you add perhaps the greatest musical score in horror history by John Carpenter, outstanding cinematography by Dean Cundey, great dialogue and exquisite directing by John Carpenter, and excellent performances by Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence.
No better scene shows the genius of this movie than the final chase sequence. After noticing mysterious events at the house across the street where her friends are having sex, our virginal heroine Laurie Strode (Jaime Lee Curtis) enters the house and goes into the upstairs bedroom.
The scene where the heroine in the slasher film discovers the bodies has been ripped-off so many times that it’s easy to forget how brilliantly it’s done in Carpenter’s classic. First we get a ringing music as she sees her friend Annie lying on the bed with a grave stone behind her head. Then we get Carpenter’s haunting piano music as classmate Bob’s body pops out swinging upside down, and finally, friend Linda’s body in the closet. As Laurie screams and sobs, we see the killer’s masked face slowly emerge behind her.
The suspense is unbearable as Laurie falls over the railings hurting her knee and the killer rushes down the stairs. The suspense is again unbearable as Laurie locks herself in a room and tries to escape the house. Just as the killer punches through the door and enters, Laurie grabs a rake used to lock her in and moves it to open the door. The scene is beautifully lit in dark blue as the camera zooms in on her ass as she stumbles into the yard just in the nick of time, for the first time sexualizing the character.
Nobody in horror history screams better than Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie Strode:
OH GOD PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!
SOMEBODY HELP ME!!!!
FEEL FREE TO HELP ME!!!!
My favorite part is when she runs to a neighbor’s house screaming for help. They turn on the lights. She screams for help. They turn off the lights thinking it’s a Halloween prank.
Th irony of Laurie Strode, straight A student perfect girl next door virgin teacher’s pet, spent her whole life being good and wholesome, and yet in her time of need, dismissed as some juvenile delinquent.
She runs back to the house where she is babysitting only to discover the kids are too asleep to here her banging on the front door. But she cleverly adapts by throwing a potted plant to their bedroom window and we see the boy wake up and lazily walk downstairs to let her in. This creates unbearable suspense because the killer is briskly walking across the street towards her.