Forty Years of Terror: Halloween (1978) vs Halloween (2018)

I have always been a fan of the slasher-horror genre. The raw and chilling, but sometimes passionate, horror that provides a continuous thrill of the chase in which you never know whether the predator or prey will win. Some slasher movies can be almost comedic but Halloween from 1978 is a quintessential horror classic that is regarded as the original and best in the genre. It has truly stood the test of time to be just as thrilling and suspenseful as ever even now. Halloween was in fact so popular that it sparked a franchise that saw ten more movies being released, including the latest 2018 installment. The original Halloween introduced Jamie Lee Curtis to the silver screen and she has since appeared in five subsequent movies in the franchise including this latest reboot as well as having an award winning acting career. Let’s see how the original and the latest shape up to each other…

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John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) provides a non-stop thrill ride of horror and suspense, bringing viewers on a terrifying journey. It starts out with a six year old Michael Myers killing his sister Judith in the opening scene. Michael is then sent away to a mental institution where he resides for the next 15 years until his psychiatrist Dr Samuel Loomis (Donald Pleasance) and nurse Marion Chambers arrive there to escort Michael to court. Loomis paints a picture of Michael as ‘pure evil’ that should never be released. Upon arriving at the institution on a stormy night the inmates appear to be ‘loose’ in the yard. Whilst Loomis is opening the gate for Marion, Michael overpowers her and steals her car escaping. Michael (played by Nick Castle) returns to his hometown of Haddonfield on Halloween in which he immediately embarks on a killing spree. Michael’s victims are mostly young teenagers. Compared to the rest of her friends, Laurie Strode (Lee Curtis) is a studious teenager who instead of partying on Halloween night is baby sitting. Laurie and her friends are stalked by Michael all night with only Laurie managing to survive – she does so after Loomis saves the day by shooting Michael. Despite being shot numerous times, Michael must have supernatural powers, and like all good classic horror movies the killer gets away and viewers are left wondering when Michael might reappear and what really happened to him. This of course paved the way for the other ten movies!

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The thing I enjoyed most about the original movie was the suspense – you never quite know where Myers might appear. John Carpenter’s score and script are also essential to its success with the music keeping you on the edge of your seat waiting for Myers to reappear at any moment. Lee Curtis whilst playing the innocent teenager brings an edge to her character that never gives up, refusing to become a victim. I also liked that Michael never utters one word, adding an extra layer of mystery and chilling coldness to his character. He is also never in a hurry to kill his victims yet manages to succeed every time! The 1978 original has stood the test of time and retains its suspense where other slasher movies seem cheesy.

Halloween (1978) – Rated 4/5

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Halloween (2018) was directed by David Gordon Lee and it acts as a direct sequel to the original 1978 movie. John Carpenter was also utilised as a creative consultant here and most importantly provides the original score to the film. The 2018 film brings us forward 40 years in which Laurie, again played by Lee Curtis, is now a grandmother. Laurie has lived the last four decades in fear that Michael might return and she has become estranged from her family. Karen, Laurie’s daughter (played by Judy Greer), is a psychologist and dismisses her mother’s fear as ‘post traumatic stress disorder’ and is so unforgiving that she fails to invite her to her daughter’s award ceremony. Laurie’s granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) is more forgiving and is desperate to connect with her grandmother. Since her relentless pursuit by Michael 40 years before Laurie refuses to believe that she is safe and she has amassed a series of weapons, and has built a safe house to protect herself and her family from the evil that may return.

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We are first introduced to Michael Myers when he is visited at the mental institution in which he is being detained by Dana and Aaron who are investigative reporters trying to get an insight into the mind of a killer. It is here where we get a small glimpse of Michael’s face. Aaron attempts to get him to talk by showing him the mask he wore in his 1978 killing spree. Despite seeing the mask, Michael remains cold and emotionless and continues to be mute. The story also introduces us to Michael’s new psychiatrist Dr Sartain (Haluk Bilginer). Michael Myers (reprised by Nick Castle but mostly played by stuntman James Jude Courtney) and a number of other prisoners at the institution are due for transfer to another prison and are loaded on a bus to be transported to their new location. The bus crashes and Michael manages to escape. Immediately following his escape Michael tracks down Aaron and Dana at a roadhouse starting his killing spree and taking back his mask. Of course he then heads to Haddonfield where Laurie is waiting for him. It is also Halloween night again! Laurie has been preparing  for this moment all of her life and, after hearing of Michael’s escape, attempts to warn her family of the impending horror to come. Laurie’s family refuse to believe her.

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Compared to the original I found some of the characters wooden and unbelievable. Allyson’s father Ray in particular I found to be pointless and I counted down the minutes waiting for him to be killed by Michael. Allyson’s friends are equally wooden and b-grade. I did enjoy a line uttered by Laurie’s husband that a guy killing a few people with a kitchen knife is not really that scary compared to today’s horror standards. Some of the elements of the storyline were also a bit pointless and did not add anything to either the story or the characters’ depth. The psychiatrist is also no Donald Pleasance but he does provide some extra twists to the plot. Despite these setbacks, Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle reprise their respective roles of Laurie and Michael remarkably well, and through the music of John Carpenter we are once again taken on a journey of suspense and horror. Lee Curtis brings a new depth to her character turning her into a badass revenge-fueled vigilante determined not to let Michael survive.

Whilst the original Halloween will never be replaced, Halloween (2018) does provide a worthy and watchable sequel.

Halloween (2018) – Rated 3/5

 

 

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