Greatest Movie Series
Franchises of All Time
The "Halloween" Films

Halloween (1978)

Halloween Films
Halloween (1978)
| Halloween II (1981) | Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
| Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) | Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998)
Halloween: Resurrection (2002) | Halloween (2007) | Halloween II (2009)

Three Great Horror Film Franchises

The "Halloween" Films - Part 1

Halloween (1978)
d. John Carpenter, 91 minutes, 101 minutes (extended version)

Film Plot Summary

Under the blood-red lettering of the credits, a Halloween pumpkin lit by a candle within smiled (or leered) and pulsated with light, accompanied by the instantly-recognizable, erratic, oft-repeated musical score (also by writer/director John Carpenter) heard in the film's series.

As with many of the films, the setting was Halloween night, 1963, in Haddonfield, Illinois, and its opening four-minute sequence was striking. Six-year-old Michael Myers (Will Sandin) wearing a clown costume was unmasked - after he had repeatedly stabbed to death his 17 year-old sister Judith (Sandy Johnson) with a butcher knife (# 1 death) following her upstairs love-making in their house with her boyfriend. The clown-costumed, insane boy stood there motionless on the front lawn, surrounded by shocked adults (his parents).

Subsequently, the disturbed, psychotic boy was institutionalized for the crime for 15 years in Smith's Grove, Illinois at the Warren County Sanitarium, observed by quirky psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) as a dangerous, isolated patient at the institution. When he was about to be transferred, Michael at age 21 (Tony Moran, also credited as "The Shape" played by Nick Castle, incorrectly identified in the end credits as 23) assaulted a nurse in the institution's station wagon by leaping onto it and then driving away.

The doctor feared the worst - the escape of the personification of evil, as the orangish-red eyes of the tail lights receded: "He's gone from here. The evil is gone." En route to Haddonfield, he killed a driver and stole his truck (# 2 death) (off-screen), and absconded with Judith Myers' grave headstone ("He came home").

In the small midwestern town, the abandoned Myers' house was, of course, the notorious scene of the killing fifteen years earlier - still unsold, vacant and dilapidated. Smart, independent-minded young 17-year-old teenaged girl Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis in her feature film debut, revealed later in the series's plot twist to be Michael's orphaned, adopted sister), was planning to babysit at the Doyle's house that Halloween night, where she listened and assented to the special requests of young Tommy Doyle (Brian Andrews).

The masked Michael stalked Laurie and her promiscuous girlfriends throughout the day, both outside her school and in the neighborhood before going on a killing spree.

In a chilling scene, Dr. Loomis waited upstairs in the Myers house with Sheriff Brackett (Charles Cyphers) for the reappearance of the evil presence, and described his obsessive mission:

"I met him fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left. No reason, no, uh, conscience, no understanding and even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six year old child with this blind, 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 that what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply evil...He's been here once tonight. I think he'll come back. I'm gonna wait for him."

One by one that evening, Michael Myers murdered Laurie's two girlfriends, and one of their boyfriends:

  1. sheriff's daughter and baby-sitter Annie Brackett (Nancy Kyes) (by strangulation, and then by slitting her throat from the backseat of her car) (# 3 death) after she had planned to forgo her babysitting duties for Lindsey Wallace (Kyle Richards), and was preparing to leave the house (across the street from where Laurie was babysitting Tommy) and drive to her boyfriend Paul's place to make love); Tommy witnessed a Shape carrying Annie's corpse into the Wallace house after murdering her, thinking it was the Boogeyman

  2. Lynda's boyfriend Robert "Bob" Simms (John Michael Graham) (by strangulation and stabbing with a kitchen knife - pinning him into the wall) (# 4 death) in the empty Wallace house where Annie had been babysitting

  3. Lynda Van Der Klok (P. J. Soles) (by strangulation with a phone cord) (# 5 death) while she was speaking to Laurie on the phone), with Michael wearing a white sheet with Bob's thick-rimmed glasses.

After receiving Lynda's strange phone call, Laurie ventured over to the Wallace house where she found Annie's body in bed with Judith's headstone, and also discovered the bodies of Bob and Lynda. Wielding a knife, Michael struck and wounded her on her left arm, sending her headfirst over the stair railing and down the staircase. Injured by the fall, Laurie was also trapped inside the locked house while struggling to get away. The killer attempted to get through a locked door to attack her - finally using his fist to break down the wooden barrier and unlock it. She broke the side door's window with her bare hand and escaped from the Wallace residence back to the Doyle house.

The visceral climax was the relentless stalking of a terrified, but resourceful and vigilant Laurie through the Doyle house. She fought back with a knitting needle (plunged into his neck), a metal coat hanger (stuck into his eye), and a knife (thrust into his torso) - but the white-masked Shape seemed indestructible. Michael's pursuit was accompanied by piercing music, quick-cut editing, and real shock and suspense. Camera angles were from the victim's point of view.

She directed the two children to go down the stairs and run out to a neighbor's house to call the police, and their cries alerted Dr. Loomis. The psychiatrist rushed up the stairs and finally caught up with his prey, saving her from strangulation. The doctor fired six rounds, emptying his gun into the masked figure. The crazed killer fell from the second floor balcony and tumbled to the ground below. Bloodied and in near-shock, Laurie quizzically stated: "[it]...was the boogey-man," while Dr. Loomis confirmed: "As a matter of fact, it was.." But in the film's final moments, his body vanished into the night.

There was a final montage of locations in the film where Michael had been hiding or was present (and would probably still haunt), accompanied by his heavy breathing:

  • the staircase and living room of the Doyle house
  • the Wallace house
  • the Myers house

Haddonfield had not seen the end of this supernatural, horrifying creature - the embodiment of Evil. He would return on another Halloween night.

Film Notables (Awards, Facts, etc.)

One of the most influential horror films of all time. The exploitative, low-budget film (filmed in about twenty days) invented many of the "slasher" film cliches.

With the tagline: "It was the night he came home." Rated R for suggestive violence (mostly bloodless) and brief topless nudity - nowadays, it would probably be rated PG-13.

Its working title: "The Babysitter Murders".

This film simply ended, and had no obvious set-up for a sequel, although they were soon to be invented, with Myers' resurrection.

With a production budget of approximately $320,000, and box-office gross revenues of $47 million (domestic) and $55 million (worldwide) - one of the most successful films of all time - in terms of its ratio.

As with many of the manipulative, morbid films, the suspenseful stalkings and killings were seen from the subjective vantage point of the killer's or 'peeping tom's' eyes, a few times while looking through a mask.

The film set in motion the Puritanical, psycho-pathological principle that one's survival was directly proportional to one's sexual experience.

Summary Note: Halloween's series of 11 films (from 1978-2018) grossed $467.9 million domestically. The highest-grossing of the series was the latest remake-installment Halloween (2018), a true sequel to the original film, earning $159.3 million (domestic). It also became the highest-grossing slasher film of all-time. It brought back actress Jamie Lee Curtis 40 years later as an aging, twice-divorced Laurie Strode who was suffering from alcoholism and agoraphobia.

Body Count: 5.

Opening Credits

Judith Myers
(Sandy Johnson)

Young 6 yr. old
Michael Myers
(Will Sandin)

Dr. Sam Loomis
(Donald Pleasence)

Michael Myers - "The Shape"
(Nick Castle)

Michael Unmasked
(Tony Moran)

Laurie Strode
(Jamie Lee Curtis)

Tommy Doyle
(Brian Andrews)

Sheriff Leigh Brackett
(Charles Cyphers)

Annie Brackett
(Nancy Kyes)

"Bob" Simms
(John Michael Graham)

Lynda Van Der Klok
(P.J. Soles)

Greatest Film Series Franchises - Sections
Series-Introduction - Index to All Films | Series-Box Office

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