Critics Consensus

Scary, suspenseful, and viscerally thrilling, Halloween set the standard for modern horror films.



Total Count: 68


Audience Score

User Ratings: 302,705
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Movie Info

A young boy kills his sister on Halloween of 1963, and is sent to a mental hospital. 15 years later he escapes and returns to his home town in order to wreak havoc.


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Critic Reviews for Halloween

All Critics (68) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (65) | Rotten (3)

Audience Reviews for Halloween

  • Oct 08, 2018
    This is our first classic and slasher on this here horror fest. I've gotta be honest, I remember watching the climactic act of this movie when I was younger, in my teens probably, but I don't have any recollection of actually watching this movie from beginning to end. I'm certain that I did, at some point, but I just don't remember it. Which is weird, considering that I have seen a few of the Halloween movies. Perhaps I haven't seen as many of the Halloween franchise as I have for, say, Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street (Freddy being my favorite of the three), but this is still a movie that all horror geeks should watch at least once in their lives. With that said, however, this might probably one of the most influential horror movies of all time. It practically created the slasher genre in the United States. While The Texas Chainsaw Massacre predates this movie by four years, I do think that a lot of the tropes associated with the slasher genre can be traced back to this movie. Not saying that that's a bad thing, given that every new genre had to start somewhere and, at the time, this was fresh and exciting. Of course, the giallo genre (from Italy, of course) serves as a predecessor and influence to the slasher. Regardless, with that said, as I mentioned, this movie set the standard for future slashers and, to this day, its influence is still being felt. This is why it pains me to say that this movie, while still quite good, doesn't hold up as well forty years after its original release, much like I felt for Escape From New York. Here's the thing, this movie is very much a product of its time and this is a movie that might have legitimately terrified audiences. Had I been alive in 1978 and I had seen this in theaters, I probably would have thought it was the best horror movie I had ever seen at that point. But I'm not watching through 1978 eyes, I'm watching through 2018 eyes and, again, it just doesn't stand the test of time as well as, say, Carpenter's The Thing, Big Trouble In Little China and They Live. So it's not an issue of me not liking 'old' movies, as I greatly enjoyed all those three movies I just mentioned. In fact, The Thing is one of my favorite horror movies of all time. But those movies, somehow, found the recipe for succeeding at standing the test of time. Here's the thing, though, as far as creature features go, I don't think most horror movies have managed to top The Thing. And, even if they do, The Thing is still able among the more modern of these movies thanks to its incredible practical effects. Slasher movies have gone on to produce far more intense and in your face experiences that, to me, top what Halloween may have done. And, to be fair, Halloween isn't a pure slasher. It's more about building the tension. Michael Myers, actually known as The Shape in this movie, has escaped a sanatorium he has been in for 15 years for as a result of killing his sister when he was six. Michael's doctor, Sam Loomis, is on his trail as he believes he'll be heading back to Haddonfield, to his childhood home, for some reason. I will say that the movie does a very good job at making Michael Myers someone you should be afraid of. I think they accomplish this very well because, for most of the movie, Michael is just stalking his targets. He's standing in front of their houses or behind bushes or just outside the laundry room. His presence is constantly teased throughout the movie and the fact that no one, at least of his teen targets, ever seems to notice him adds to the dread of what he is eventually gonna do to them. To that end, I feel that this movie handles this part of the character extremely well. Probably better than most slashers I've seen. I feel like it should be noted that while the movie is tame in comparison to most slashers. Michael Myers kills something like five people (and two dogs). We only see four of those deaths on-screen. So the body count is incredibly low which, again, isn't exactly a problem. The Stepfather (the original, of course) had six murders attributed to the eponymous character, of which we only see two. The problem in Halloween isn't that the body count is so low, it's the fact that the deaths aren't exactly that brutal. There's very little blood and absolutely nothing in the way of gore. What I mean by brutal is the fact that, in my opinion, most of the deaths in this movie (with the exception of maybe two) feel like play fighting to me. And, essentially, that's what this movie, and every horror movie, is of course. Nick Castle, who played Michael Myers, isn't actually gonna kill his co-stars. But the movie's deaths don't look that convincing to me. And that's why I feel it can't compete with more modern horror flicks. Hell, we don't even have to compare it to modern-era slashers. The deaths pale in comparison to those in the original Nightmare on Elm Street, which is one of Halloween's contemporaries. Granted, if I'm also being fair, this movie had a budget of $320,000 compared to the original Nightmare's $1.8 million. So you could make the argument that that probably had as big a part to play in the deaths not looking all that convincing as anything else. And I think that's my biggest issue with the movie is that in spite of making Myers to be this fearsome threat, while he does kill some people, he doesn't do it in a way where you would be terrified of him, as a viewing audience. Which is a weird thing to say about a murderous psychopath, but there you go. Another thing is the fact that Sam Loomis is portrayed to be somewhat of an incompetent doctor. The reason for that is that Loomis, for over half of the movie, spends his time waiting for Michael at his childhood home. For some reason, Loomis believes that Michael will come back. Well, Michael never actually came back and while he was going around stalking babysitters and killing them, Loomis was just hiding behind this bush at Michael's childhood home. Just waiting there, for hours on end, like some sort of idiot. They don't exactly portray Loomis in the best of ways, which is interesting considering how inextricable the two would become to the franchise as it went on. I think that's probably the two major components of the movie I did not like. The deaths not being that believable (within its own horror context, of course) and Loomis' incompetence and his general portrayal. Having said that, this is still a good movie. Everything leading up to the deaths is quality stuff and Jamie Lee Curtis is good in this movie. And let's not forget the iconic score, which is, really, quite simple, but it helps set the tone and the mood for the movie perfectly. I'm not even trying to suggest that this isn't good but, once again, it's a movie that time has not been kind to like it has been kind to some of Carpenter's other films. I'm not about to sit here and say that this film wasn't influential, because it was and still is to this day, and it spawned the longest-running horror film franchises of all time, so it must have done something right. I'm just a dummy spoiled by modern horror. In all seriousness though, I greatly respect John Carpenter and his contributions to films and I love a lot of what he's done, but this isn't the best movie he's ever made. I'm sorry to say that. Still a good movie, but not great.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Oct 11, 2016
    The slasher genre took off in the 70's and 80's, but perhaps none were as famous or impactful as John Carpenter's Halloween in 1978. Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho was an influential film for many reasons, but it specifically did things with its villain that transcended the horror genre. In many ways, Norman Bates and Hitchcock's vision are the reason we got so many slasher films a few decades later. With Halloween, it's easy to see the influence. Carpenter does a masterful job at hiding the villain, or strictly showing him in obscure places in the camera shot. These tactics, along with keeping the blood at a minimum, actually proved to make the film better in the long run. Even if some of those choices were made specifically based on a restrictive tiny budget. The now infamous long-take when we first see Michael Myers kill is absolutely terrifying, and it helps set the tone for the rest of the movie. But these unique camera movements don't end there. I loved the way Carpenter chose to shoot Myers. Yes, some of the later shots of him masked up in the dark are scary, but I almost feel like seeing Myers standing in broad daylight by a bush or a car and stalking his future victims is equally as terrifying. Some of the horror tropes this film falls into can be forgiven, because it was basically the first of its kind to do so. But I do wish they didn't depict all but one teenager as dumb promiscuous sex and drug addicts. It just seemed a bit far-fetched. It's also annoying how careless these characters seemed to be. I mean, how many times did someone blatantly leave a door or a window open in a house or a car? That's not realistic. With that said, when the horror hits, it really hits. The simple premise of having a mentally unstable killer on the loose on a Halloween night is enough to keep me on the edge of my seat. Sure, we don't get a ton of reasoning behind the actions taken, but I never felt like the lack of that impacted the execution of Carpenter's story. To me, this is about as good as a slasher film can be. +Looming presence of Myers +Carpenter's directing choices +Score -Characters were pretty clumsy 8.5/10
    Thomas D Super Reviewer
  • Jun 22, 2016
    Arguably the most successful independent film of all time. This is a classic horror film if there ever was one. Perfect blend of suspense and "slash em up" horror. Best part about this film is that the character is a silent stalker with an agenda and doesn't wise crack like Freddy or just walk around aimlessly like Jason. The script is also very well done and unfolds the movie perfectly. Not very many other "slasher films" in the 80s can come close to this one and of course, it has the best theme/soundtrack song of any horror film ever. Also might be a little biased as this is my favorite horror movie of all time.
    Patrick W Super Reviewer
  • Feb 16, 2016
    What is best about the original Halloween is that it is a stand-alone film and it needs no sequels. It is John Carpenter's exploration of what it is like to have some crazed menace after you, not knowing his motivation. That is exactly the part that Michael Myers plays in this film. The film begins with Myers's escape from a mental hospital and then his return to his hometown. In his hometown he goes on a killing spree, and for no reason, presumably. It is not until the sequel that we get some presumed motivation for his killing, but even that is retrofitted. Here, in this movie, he just has no reason to be doing what he is doing. This film is highly recommended, and although horror movies are much maligned, this stands as a testament to great filmmaking as well, not only showing some Big Bad chasing after everybody but creating an eery mood and atmosphere, showing everyone that it's possible to do service to the genre.
    Billie P Super Reviewer

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