7. Halloween (1978)
Released in 1978, John Carpenter’s Halloween helped to bring the modern horror movie back into profitable form. The film had a modest budget of 300,000 but made over 70 million at the box office for a profit of over %11,000! It didn’t take studios long to realize that there was big money in horror and soon hundreds of copycat movies have been made in Halloween’s shadow looking to copy the film’s amazing success.
Halloween’s plot is tried and true. A pretty young teenager (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her friends are ruthlessly pursued by an unstoppable knife wielding maniac.
Horror movies aren’t known to win many Oscars.
But the film still holds up in spite of the number of it’s dubious sequels and remakes as one of the scariest movies ever made. The main reason why? Halloween’s simplicity.
Halloween doesn’t rely on excessive gore or cheesy special effects to scare viewers. Realistic and grounded, Halloween feels and looks real. Micheal Myers has no supernatural powers. He doesn’t attack you in your dreams or rise up out of a lake. (At least not yet, future films would make Myers into an occult unkillable murderous machine)
Micheal Myers’ weapon of choice is a simple kitchen knife, ala Norman Bates.
And much like Psycho, Halloween’s chilling theme music is a scare multiplier, every bit as haunting and unrelenting as Micheal Myers himself. Composed by John Carpenter, I’d safely venture to say that the Halloween theme music accounted for at least 33% of Halloween’s total effectiveness.
FUN FACTS: For years after ‘Halloween’ was released, people would tell writer/director John Carpenter how horrified they were by Michael Myers grotesquely disfigured face, briefly seen when Laurie pulls his mask off for a moment towards the end of the film. But actor Tony Moran‘s face was perfectly normal except for a small knife wound put on by makeup.