Portal:Horror fiction/Selected article archive/May 2006

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Halloween (also known as John Carpenter's Halloween) is a 1978 independent horror film set in the fictional Midwest town of Haddonfield, Illinois, on Halloween. The original draft of the screenplay was titled The Babysitter Murders. The film was directed by John Carpenter and stars Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis, Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, and Nick Castle as Michael Myers (listed in the credits as "The Shape"). The film centers on Michael Myers's escape from a psychiatric hospital, his murder of several teenagers, and Sam Loomis's attempts to track and kill Myers.

Halloween was produced on a budget of only $325,000 and grossed $47 million at the box office in the United States, making it one of the most successful independent films in history. Many critics credit this film as the first in a long line of slasher films inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960). The movie originated many of the clichés seen in low-budget horror films of the 1980s and 1990s, although first-time viewers of Halloween may be surprised by the fact that the film contains little actual graphic violence or gore.

Critics have also suggested that Halloween and its slasher film successors encourage sadism and misogyny. Others have suggested the film is a social critique of the morality of young people in 1970s America, pointing out that many of Myers's victims are sexually promiscuous or substance abusers, while the lone heroine is depicted as chaste and innocent. While Carpenter dismisses these analyses, the perceived parallel between the characters' moral strengths and their likelihood of surviving to the film's conclusion has nevertheless become a standard slasher movie trope. (continued...)