2. HALLOWEEN (1978)

The 1980s gave rise to a proliferation of slasher movies. From Friday the 13th to Nightmare on Elm Street, making cheapo horror movies (along with many many sequels) seemed to be a sure-fire way to make money. But what started it all? Why did Hollywood put so much money into making so many bad movies? Many believe that it all started with Halloween.

The story is relatively simple: it's Halloween night, and Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is babysitting two kids. Her friends, who also live in the neighborhood, are more interested in hooking up with their respective boyfriends. But psycho Michael Myers (who has just escaped from a mental institution and, naturally enough, always wears a mask) is out to kill them. Standard horror fare.

Halloween succeeds because it builds up genuine suspense. In fact, for a horror movie, it contains almost no blood and gore. It's not all about the "boo!" but about legitimately scaring you.

Any good horror movie is only as good as its villain, and this is really what makes Halloween so much better than all the other schlock horror films. The movie's opening five minutes are presented entirely from Michael Myers' warped point of view (some consider those five minutes to be among the creepiest film sequences ever). Michael doesn't have one line in the entire movie, so you never find out his motives. But this just makes him all the scarier; he's a killing machine that cannot be reasoned with. Case in point: as Laurie frenetically tries to get inside of a house to get help, she sees Michael walking calmly across the street with a knife. He shows no emotion, and does not rush over. Here's a movie that realizes that someone doesn't have to jump out of a bush to be scary . . . it's often scarier to know exactly what's coming.

The music is also effective in generating fear and suspense. Listen to the simplistic soundtrack, and observe how effective it is, despite using the same few chords for the entire film. Also, keep an ear out for the realistic conversations that the teenagers have with each other, and how natural they sound.

Try watching this one alone at night, and you'll see how good it is.


  • Made in 21 days for less than $300,000, it made almost $50 million in US theaters, becoming one of the most profitable movies ever

  • Followed by several sequels, most notably Halloween H2O in 1998, which also starred Jamie Lee Curtis

  • The mask Michael Myers wears is actually a William Shatner mask spray-painted white