Doctor Gash’s Top 10 Greatest Horror Movies… EVER! #3 – Halloween

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We’re down to the top three horror movies ever created. I’m excited; how about you? For a long time the number three film was the most financially successful indie film of all time. But Halloween is not on this list for the money it made; it’s here for the nightmares it generated.

#3- Halloween
Laurie: Was it the boogeyman?
Dr. Sam Loomis: As a matter of fact, it was.

It’s the night he came home.

Halloween may not be the first slasher film ever, but it’s the best. I suppose you could consider Psycho a slasher film, but Norman basically kept to himself unless you disturbed him. That isn’t the case in Halloween, and the good people of Haddonfield had no idea what was coming. Michael Myers was a hunter, and he arrived on Halloween night with a mission in mind.

Doctor Gash's Top 10 Greatest Horror Movies... EVER! #3 - Halloween

Much like Hannibal Lecter was introduced by Dr. Frederick Chilton describing his heinous deeds to Officer Starling before we get Lecter’s chilling on-screen introduction, Michael Myers’ doctor, Sam Loomis (remember that name, Psycho fans?), played by Donald Pleasence, gave unyielding assessments of his patient repeatedly in Halloween. Pleasence’s performance oozed nervous tension as he repeatedly tried to warn the Haddonfield Police of the danger that was coming for them.

Michael Myers would not have been nearly as daunting and frightening if it weren’t for some of the setup Loomis gave him. My personal favorite story was: “I met him 15 years ago. I was told there was nothing left. No reason, no conscience, no understanding; even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face and the blackest eyes… the devil’s eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply… evil.” This is what we learn about Michael as he slowly makes his presence felt in Haddonfield.

Halloween was filmed in 21 days during the spring of 1978 on a budget of $320,000. It is still one of the most successful independent films of all time. Never has so much been done with a butcher knife and a modified William Shatner mask. Yes, for those of you who didn’t know, Michael Myers’ iconic mask is actually a William Shatner Halloween mask that had the eye holes widened and was then spray-painted bluish white. That’s right, the face of The Shape is none other than Captain Kirk.

Doctor Gash's Top 10 Greatest Horror Movies... EVER! #3 - Halloween

And we must not forget the wonderful ‘final girl’ in Halloween. She was basically unknown before this film, but Jamie Lee Curtis was chosen to play the chaste (although we do see her smoking weed) Laurie Strode. And here is yet another tip of the cap to Psycho from Halloween. Why is that, you ask? Although she wasn’t the first actress selected for the part, one factor that helped lead director John Carpenter to finally select Curtis was her DNA. Jamie Lee Curtis is the daughter of Janet Leigh, the actress who played Marion Crane, the victim in the legendary Psycho shower scene. Carpenter thought it would help promote the film if the daughter of the actress in one of the most memorable horror scenes ever showed up in his film. Hello, horror dynasty. What other mother-daughter team could say they were in two of the greatest horror movies ever? None.

Michael Myers did not have the personality of Freddy Krueger, and although a beast in his own right, he didn’t have the sheer juggernaut power of Jason Voorhees. But Michael Myers always seemed worse than either of them. Maybe it was the mystery, the wondering of what was lurking behind that mask. But whatever it was that went into making this most memorable monster, it could not have worked out better, and Michael Myers became one of the greatest movie villains ever. And it was, in the end, the brilliance and creativity of director John Carpenter and the sheer terror evoked by Michael Myers that drove Halloween to its rightful place atop the slasher genre.

Doctor Gash's Top 10 Greatest Horror Movies... EVER! #3 - Halloween

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  • Doctor Gash

    Thanks so much guys, you’re too kind! Just two to go. Hope you dig the finale. Also keep an eye out for a summary article after the full 10 are posted…I’ll include some of the near misses on there also.

  • Terminal

    Wonderful film. Just a downright excellent horror movie. And one of the many horror movies ruined by sequels. All the mystery and ambiguity went down the drain once Halloween 2 reared its head.

    I loved the idea of different stories for every Halloween sequel. I wish they’d stuck with it rather than crumbling under pressure and feeding us a remake and calling them sequels.

    Great write up as usual.

  • MonsterMash

    I enjoy reading these very much. Keep up the good work. I love how DC does extra stuff like this besides just news.

  • Jinx

    Another great write-up, Doctor.

    Can’t wait to see what the final two are.

  • Masked Slasher

    My favorite film of all time.

    Well written, Doc. You done the Ween justice, sir.

  • kiddcapone

    Halloween has always been one of my all-time favorite films, hell, my one and only tattoo is of the poster art. That’s why I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but age has not been very kind to Halloween. Very unkind.

    For a film I’ve seen dozens and dozens of times, it wasn’t until this past October that I finally had the chance to see it on the Big Screen during its one night re-release. What made the moment even more exciting, my wife had NEVER seen it. She is afraid of her own shadow, so I thought she would be shit scared. The original. Michael Myers, the horror Icon. John Carpenter’s brilliant score. I couldn’t wait.

    I guess it was because I built up how amazing the film is that while I was waiting for the great parts to see how she reacted, I started lingering on the shitty parts that seemed to drag on forever. The first ¾ of the movie is just Myers standing there, breathing. That’s it. Standing across from the school. Standing outside the school. Standing in the yard. Standing behind a bush. Standing outside the house. Just standing. Breathing. The acting and dialogue is embarrassing bad. Lynda had several cringe worthy moments. The sex scene is pathetic. Annie’s strangulation scene in the car was cheesy. The audience actually started laughing when she dies quickly and makes some ridiculous dead face. Laurie did some of the dumbest things ever in a movie, like drop the knife or not run from the house, or keep thinking Myers was dead after a coat hanger jab or sewing needle stab.

    Halloween will always have a special place in my heart. It will always be one of my favorites. But sadly, it’s lost some of its luster. Now that these glaring cheese ball moments stand out like a sore thumb, it’s going to be tough to watch again. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still several scenes and moments that will always be pure brilliance, but there’s also some that is piss poor. The greatness will always outweight the flaws, I guess I just always overlooked them.

    • LifeMi

      I wouldn’t say Halloween has any bad moments, but I’ll grant you it’s lost some of its edge overtime. Films like Texas Chainsaw, Exorcist and Night and Dawn are even older and just as strong today as they were in the ’70s; what it comes down to is Halloween, as great as it is, isn’t the ultimate masterpiece it’s made out to be. It’s easily one of the best horror films out there and it’s impossible to argue that, but it doesn’t hold up to some of its contemporaries.

      • nazo

        Really? I think Halloween has held up a lot better than, say, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and even Night of the Living Dead. In particular, the acting is better, and the music and atmosphere hold up much better for me. I wouldn’t put it quite this high, but it’s still probably on my top ten.

        • LifeMi

          Don’t get me wrong, Nazo; Halloween is a great movie, but my point is that whereas those other films still hold up really well, Halloween has lost some of its edge. I agree that it’s technically superior to Texas Chainsaw and Night in many ways, but I personally prefer those films.

          • nazo

            Personal preference? Cool, can’t argue with you there :)

    • LSD Zombie

      I have to agree with KiddCapone on this one. I actually think Black Christmas has held up better. It’s far more scary than Halloween too.

    • Terminal

      Completely disagree. Personally I prefer Black Christmas, but Halloween hasn’t aged a single bit in my eyes.

Scott Hallam

We all go a little mad sometimes...haven't you?