Micheal Myers Original Halloween (1978) How Does it Hold Up 40 years Later?

Reece Houser, Staff Writer

With twelve movies in this series over four decades, you may know the white mask that sends shivers down the spines of unsuspecting teenagers. The real question is how these scare tactics hold up after 43 years. Tony Moran and Nick Castle play the original Micheal Myers in “Halloween” 1978, directed by John Carpenter, and written with Debra Hill, starring Jamie Lee Curtis. Some seasoned movie watchers would tell you that “Halloween” was, and still is, the best spooky film of all time. However, with CGI, and animation abilities improving every day, can “Halloween” be written off as just another aged-out, cheesy Hollywood movie? 

For those of you who have not seen this original film, it takes place in the sleepy suburbs of Haddonfield, Illinois. The first scene is set in 1963, on Halloween night where we see a teenage girl and her boyfriend. The scene then jumps to something outside of the house looking in, we later know this is the 6-year-old boy, Michael; the girl’s sister. This boy kills his sister and is sent away to an insane asylum for 15 years. One Halloween night he escapes and starts terrorizing his town once again. He kills several teenagers and only one survives, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). Just when the movie ends Micheal Meyers is shot and falls off a 2 story home, he is thought to be dead. By the next scene, we know this cannot be true because his body has disappeared from the spot where he had fallen. With that information infer what you will, but the series continues to this day.  

In 1978, horror movies had very little resources or knowledge on how to trick the mind. As a result, the creators added in lots of jump cuts, suspense music, and in this film in particular, a white mask that shows no emotion. In today’s films, we can see similar things take shape, but because of these original movies, there has been tremendous growth. Many horror movies today try to copy the idea of a human character being lifeless and evil, but instead of a white mask, they can use animation. This turns the original idea on its head, therefore making the scene even eerier and the effects of it are more intense to the watcher. Some would say it makes for a better-executed horror picture. Others may disagree, saying that the white mask adds the perfect chill. You may even go as far as to say that CGI harms the integrity of the movie. However, the creators may even disagree with that statement since we can see Micheal Myers mask change over time, getting more and more character as technology evolves. Another noticeable thing found in the original “Halloween”  is the trope of ‘The last girl’. This is even mentioned in the Netflix original “Attack of the Hollywood Cliches” in minute:  50:00-51:02. They describe Jamie Lee Curtis as the “icon” for this trope, saying that she truly established the role and general personality used in many more films. 

One of the most popular tricks in the books when it comes to scary movies is the jump scare. Older movies used this to their absolute advantage. However, as the times go on movie watchers can look back at this style and find it more comical than “scary”.  In “Halloween” viewers can see multiple jump cuts in just the first 5 mins. In 1978, this may have had a great effect, but in today’s times we simply laugh, since the edits are rather rough. In the first 5 minutes, we can also see filmers trying to play tricks on the camera. They use what looks like cardboard with cut-out eyes in front of the camera lens, to give the illusion that we are looking through the killer’s eyes. A technique like this is still used today, but it has to be perfected or else the watcher does not feel the full experience. Another Hollywood favorite is the dramatized music, which carried most movies during the early days. The idea is still backed up today, music acts as a phenomenon to the mind, making anything scarier. Until it is too intense, or overdone, if you follow carefully, the music is a dead giveaway that something strange is about to happen. Overtime, this takes away from the “horror” angle of the movie. 

 To sum up, yes, the movie “Halloween” has its cliches, and lack of technology, but “Halloween” is still one of the classics. I would highly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys a good old-fashioned scare. Some scenes will certainly show age, and the props may be less chilling now that we are used to such advanced animation. However, John Carpenter and the whole “Halloween” team should still be acknowledged for making a film so memorable that people everywhere are watching it, more than 4 decades later.