Ms. Spenser keeps asking for scary movies, and I feel like I owe her for all the musicals and rom-coms - you know, guy movies. We've never seen Halloween (1978), and we're John Carpenter fans, so...
It starts on Halloween night, 1963, with a prowler sneaking around watching a teenage girl and her boyfriend. The camera watches from the prowler's point of view through the windows as they go upstairs. The camera sneaks into through the back door, stops in the kitchen to pick up a knife, then heads up the stairs - all one long tracking shot, handheld. Then he repeatedly stabs the girls (in a relatively bloodless and slightly silly scene).
The next shot shows the prowler - a little boy in a clown mask, holding the bloody knife.
Now it's 15 years later. Dr. Donald Pleasance is going to collect the boy, Michael Myers, to take before the parole board. He talks with his nurse about how frighteningly creepy Myers is, and gets pretty upset when he finds out that he has escaped. In fact, Myers kills the nurse and steals the car.
Meanwhile, back in the small town where it all started, three teen-aged girls are getting ready for babysitting on Halloween night. Jamie Lee Curtis (actually teen-aged, in her first movie) is the serious one, Nancy Loomis is her more frivolous friend, and P.J. Soles (Rock 'n' Roll High School!) is, of course, the wild one. Guess which one dies first, which one dies last?
Come evening, Jamie and Nancy are babysitting nearby, and we get some nice time with the kids, a boy and girl who are entranced with scary movies (The Thing - before John Carpenter remade it), comic books, and monsters. The babysitters are always on the phone or sneaking a boy in. There is pot and beer, even though Loomis' dad is the police chief (who is named Leigh Brackett, a tribute to the great screenwriter of The Big Sleep and Star Wars). Neatly observed slice of life.
And then, more slicing, less life.
I enjoyed this - Carpenter's tracking shots and long, long takes, the myth building, the barely glimpsed terror. Ms. Spenser, on the other hand, thought it was silly, and not very scary at all. So I still owe her a scary movie.