By Raymond Knowby

Unless you’re BLACK CHRISTMAS, it really doesn’t get any better that this. John Carpenter’s grandaddy slasher is a stylistic, mesmerizing showpiece, somehow rising above its meager budget with lavish Dean Cundey photography and a masterful score supplied by the director himself. That it became and instant, timeless classic is no surprise in hindsight.

In 1963, little Michael Myers killed his sister in cold blood. Fifteen years later, he escapes from a mental institution and stalks Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis in a debut role) and her friends on the eve of all saints. Out to find his escaped patient, Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) hunts for the now loose psychopath before he kills again in his hometown.

Perfect set-up and delivery without reliance on gore make for suspenseful and atmospheric presentation, and thanks to a single-handedly brilliant move in the prop department involving white spray-paint and a captain Kirk latex mask, one of the most memorable and scary killers is unleashed on screen. Even today, it’s still amazing in its effect to totally freak you out. Curtis plays Ms. Strode with a innocence that hasn’t been rivaled in the subgenre since, and Pleasence is an absolute treasure as the obsessed, driven psychiatrist.

Brilliant work. An extended version aired on television in the early eighties, with three additional scenes filmed and inserted to make up for broadcast-edited content. It has been released limitedly on dvd over the last decade, and is well worth checking out for the complete experience.

"Evil"...before he hit puberty. John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN.