I saw HALLOWEEN on October 30, 1982 at the age of 13. I watched it in my basement on NBC-TV on a 19-inch black and white Zenith with all the lights off. My parents did not own a VCR, so I placed my Sears tape recorder up to the TV speaker and recorded the whole film on audiotape. HALLOWEEN was, essentially, my introduction to the world of horror films.
The first thing that struck me about HALLOWEEN was John Carpenter's amazingly effective minimalist score. To think that he directed and wrote the music to this film astonished me. The music is so simple, yet so scary and fits the film like a glove. Like her mother Janet Leigh, who co-starred in the watershed Hitchcock film PSYCHO, Jamie Lee Curtis gives a wonderful performance (her nervousness really aids her Laurie Strode) in her debut film role. HALLOWEEN, like PSYCHO, changed the tone and type of horror films to be made for years to come. Not many mother-daughter actresses can make such a claim.
Nancy Loomis and PJ Soles are terrific as Annie and Lynda, Laurie's high school pals. The comraderie shared amongst them is genuine � we really like and care about these girls. They reflect who we are in their attitudes and all-around general busting of each other's chops.
John Carpenter was quite correct in imbuing Michael Myers, the killer, with an almost mythological personification of evil. Viewed today, HALLOWEEN might seem very slow in comparison to modern-day entertainment. Believe me, it isn't. It does a wonderful job of taking its time and involving us with the characters, which is something that the horror films of now do not bother to do.
Donald Pleasance is great as Dr. Sam Loomis (his name is another nod to PSYCHO), a psychiatrist who is the only person able to see what a ticking time bomb Michael Myers really is.
When it was shown on TV, HALLOWEEN contained an additional 12 minutes of footage that was shot around the time that HALLOWEEN II was being made. I personally like the inclusion of this footage, the majority of which includes Dr. Loomis's disgust with the ineptitude and myopia of the mental institution. One scene implicates Laurie as Michael's sister, a notion that I have never really been a fan of that comes into fruition in the first sequel, though some will complain that it hampers the film's already slow, deliberate pace. As Carpenter brilliantly points out in the Criterion Collection laserdisc commentary, he wanted the film to have the effect of a jack-in-the-box � you know something scary will happen, you just don't know when.
Though you know the outcome of the film, HALLOWEEN warrants repeat viewings. Though it's a horror film, and one that Roger Ebert quite correctly labeled as "an absolutely merciless thriller", there's something upbeat and fun about it.