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Halloween

Halloween

Compass International Pictures/Falcon International Pictures/Falcon International Productions, USA, 1978
AKA: John Carpenter’s Halloween/The Babysitter Murders
Director: John Carpenter
Writer: John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Cast: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Kyes, P.J. Soles, Charles Cyphers, Kyle Richards, Brian Andrews, John Michael Graham, Nancy Stephens, Arthur Malet, Mickey Yablans, Brent Le Page, Adam Hollander, Robert Phalen, Tony Moran, Will Sandin, Sandy Johnson, David Kyle, Peter Griffith, Nick Castle, Barry Bernardi, Joseph Cornelius, George O’Hanlon Jr., Darla Rae, Jennifer Rhodes, Gwen Van Dam, Tommy Lee Wallace

It’s Halloween night 1963 in Haddonfield, Illinois. 17 years old Judith Myers is supposed to look after her brother Michael, 6, but she has her boyfriend over and instead they go upstairs to have sex. When the boyfriend leaves Michael grabs a big knife from a kitchen drawer, puts on a clown mask, goes up to his naked sister and stabs her to death.

On october 30, the night before Halloween, there is a storm. Michael Myers escape from the mental institution in Smith’s Grove, where he has been locked up for fifteen years, by attacking a nurse and stealing her car. Dr. Samuel Loomis, who is Michaels psychiatrist, describes him as pure evil. Michael hasen’t said a word for fifteen years, only stared at the wall with empty eyes. Dr. Loomis is convinced Michael is going home to Haddonfield.

Next day, real estate agent Morgan Strode asks his daughter Laurie to drop off the keys to the Myers house under the doormat on her way to school. On her way Laurie runs into Tommy Doyle, whom she is babysitting that evening. He tells her not to go up to the Myers house. Something bad happened there a long time ago and the kids in town think it’s haunted. As she is leaving the keys we see the shape of someone inside the dark house watching her. In class Laurie sees a person in a white mask standing by a car. It appears he is watching her, but when she looks back he is gone.

As Tommy is leaving school he is being taunted by some bullies. They try to scare him by saying the Boogeyman is gonna get him. Tommy haven’t heard of the boogieman so he gets scared and confused. When the bullies take off one of them runs straight into Michael. Michael gets in the car and follows Tommy. Laurie walks home together with her friends Lynda and Annie. Annie is going to babysit Leslie just across the street from where Laurie will be babysitting Tommy. Lynda is seing her boyfriend but sais they might pop by sometime during the evening. Michael keeps stalking them, but Laurie is the only one who see him and the other girls make jokes about it.

Sheriff Brackett, who is also Annes father, is checking out a store break-in. He thinks it was probably some kids, since they only stole knives, ropes and some halloween masks. Dr. Loomis aproach him and tells him about Myers, how dangerous he is, and that he probably is in Haddonfield. Bracket is hesitant at first but agrees to go to the Myers house with Loomis. Somebody has obviously been in the house and they find a partially eaten dog. When they hear that somebody has stolen the tombstone of Judith Myers Dr. Loomis is sure it is Michael.

While babysitting Leslie, Annie gets a phone call from her boyfriend. He wants her to come and pick him up, so she leaves Leslie with Laurie and Tommy. Laurie and the kids are watching The Thing on TV (John Carpenter would direct a remake of this a couple of years later), and Tommy asks about the Boogeyman. Laurie is a little concerned when Annie never returns for Leslie but thinks she’s probably having sex with her boyfriend, and will show up later. Lynda and her boyfriend show up at the house where Annie is supposed to be, and when they find the house empty they decide to borrow the master bedroom. Dr. Loomis is staking out the Myers house and Michael is staking out Laurie and her friends.

Halloween wasn’t the first slasher film, but it became a genre model for later slasher films. I first saw it on the big screen and then it felt very new and original. Today 40 years later it doesn’t stand out in the same way, partly since horror has evolved but partly also since so many later films has reused so much of the ideas that set Halloween apart, that it has become mainstream. It’s still one of my all time favourites though. Bodycount is surprisingly low for a slasher: only 5 (+ one dog).

My verdict: 10 out of 10.

Absolution

Bulldog Productions Ltd., UK, 1978
AKA: Anthony Shaffer’s Absolution, Murder by Confession
Director: Anthony Page
Writer: Anthony Shaffer
Cast: Richard Burton, Dominic Guard, David Bradley, Billy Connolly, Andrew Keir, Willoughby Gray, Preston Lockwood, James Ottaway, Brook Williams, Jon Plowman, Robin Soans, Trevor Martin, Sharon Duce, Brian Glover, Dan Meaden, Hilary Mason, Hilda Fenemore, Robert Addie, Kevin Hart, Philip Leake, Michael Crompton, Andrew Boxer, Richard Willis, Michael Parkhouse, Richard Kates, Martyn Hesford, Clive Gehle, Charles Rigby, Michael Bell, Martin Stringer, Francis Fry, Julian Firth, Tim Short, Keith Macey, Michael Munn.

“Under no circumstances what so ever may a priest break the seal of the confession.”

Father Goddard is a priest and a teacher in a boys’ Catholic boarding school, and during one of his lessons the rules of confession is discussed. Around the same time a drifter shows up on a motorcycle and sets up camp in the woods surrounding the school. One of the schoolboys befriends him but when Father Goddard finds out he makes the boy promise never to see the drifter again and calls the police to make them drive him off.

Soon one of the boys in confession admits to Father Goddard to have killed the drifter and buried him in the woods. Goddard diggs up the shallow grave and finds a scarecrow instead of the drifters body. He is outraged by this prank on him but can’t do much about it since he is bound to silence. Next the boy confesses once again. This time he claims to have really done what he only joked about the first time. He also confesses to have plans for another murder, this time on one of his fellow students.

Goddard must try to prevent the murder and protect the intended victim, but is at the same time still under the seal of confession so he can’t tell anyone what is about to happen.

The movie is a bit slow paced at the start, but the twists of the plot soon got me interested. The acting over all is very good and Billy Connolly does his first role in a movie. Absolution wasn’t released in the US until 1988 (four years after Richard Burton’s death) and in Finland it premiered on Television in 1998. A modern day remake would be interesting to see. Imagine some blood and gore added to this plot.

My verdict: 6 out of 10.