Dreadful Things


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1978  Dir: John Carpenter.  With: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, Nancy Loomis, P.J.Soles.

This offering is recognised as the one that started the stalk and slash trend in horror movies - with the possible exception, that is, of Black Christmas.

Before Halloween, many horror films were set in haunted houses, gothic castles or some darkly atmospheric environment away from suburbia.  But this movie brought the horror to suburbia.  It trod amongst the neat rows of nice houses with their immaculately kept lawns and lurked amongst the hedgerows.  What the film was saying was that the horror now lived amongst those manicured hedgerows and tree-lined streets of suburbia, and it could leap out and get you in your own neighbourhood (not just in the creepy castles of Transylvania!)

The neighbourhood in Halloween looks like the sort of place where you could raise kids safely, and they could play freely in the streets, in perfect serenity.

The film begins with a prologue set in 1963, a one-take shot, from the POV of the young Michael Myers, who picks up a knife, makes his way upstairs, slips on a clown mask, and goes into his teenage sister's room (where she's getting it from her boyfriend) and stabs her to death. 

October 30th, 1978, Myers, now an adult, escapes from a mental hospital and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, and on Halloween night, stalks friends, Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), Annie (Nancy Loomis), and Linda (P.J Soles), as they are babysitting.   Myers' psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence), is searching for him and thinks that he may return to his old home.

The movie Scream would later send up Halloween wholesale, even using clips from it to illustrate the parody.

Some of the performances may now all these years later seem a little hammy, especially that of Donald Pleasance, and some of the lines of dialogue such as , 'I looked into those eyes - the devils eyes,' seem out of place - except maybe in a Conservative Party advertising campaign dissin' Labour that is!

But this film is still a classic slash-fest!