IMDB Summary: 15 years after murdering his sister on Halloween night 1963, Michael Myers escapes from a mental hospital and returns to Haddonfield, Illinois to kill again.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
Halloween night, 1963.
Two teenagers are making out on the couch inside a fairly dilapidated house. By the way the camera moves you can tell you’re watching them through the eyes of a person, a young Michael Myers, who is spying on them through a window. The girl, Michael’s sister Judith, is supposed to be watching him but decides it would be way more fun to take her boyfriend upstairs to have sex. Michael then makes his way to the kitchen, grabs a butcher knife and walks toward the stairs through the most depressing looking house in the world. Not to judge, though. Our summer house growing up had the exact same living room rug.
After literally a minute and a half of sex, the boyfriend comes down the stairs and takes off. I imagine Michael is glad to see him go because he’s about to murder his sister and it’ll probably easier without the boyfriend around. Slowly, he makes his way up to her room and puts on a clown mask he finds at the top of the stairs. Through the cutout eyes of the mask, he sees Judith brushing her hair in the mirror with no shirt on (as we all do). Michael then, for no identifiable reason, starts crazily stabbing her until she dies.
Kill count: 1.
I have to hand it to John Carpenter. You don’t usually see little kids in movies violently killing people. The only thing I can think of is the Twilight Zone episode where Billy Mumy wishes people who don’t suck up to him into the cornfield to die and turns someone into a human Jack-in-the-box. “It’s… good what you’ve done to Dan. It’s real good.” Frightening.
A minute later Michael is outside when his parents come home from what I assume was a Halloween party, but they’re not in any kind of costume so who knows.
“Michael?” asks the dad as he takes off the kid’s mask. Yes, that’s fucking Michael, in his little clown costume, standing there holding a bloody knife and catatonically staring into space. Instead of freaking out, the parents—who don’t really seem all that concerned with what they’ve just come home to—don’t do shit. Now they’re all just staring. You’d think one of them would have a question or two, such as “hey son, what’s with the knife and whose blood is on it?” but nobody does.
The camera backs away. The music swells.
And that’s how it all begins.
October 30th, 1978. Smith’s Grove, Illinois.
A nurse, who is chain smoking, is driving a station wagon in the rain with Dr. Loomis, Michael’s psychiatrist. Michael has been locked up in a sanitarium ever since he hacked his sister to death and hasn’t spoken a word in 15 years. This information should disturb Nurse Cancersticks, but instead she gets super pissy with the doctor for calling Michael “it” rather than “him,” telling him he has no compassion.
Poor Dr. Loomis. Nobody ever listens to him.
He glances at her book of matches. They’re from the Rabbit in Red Lounge, a strip club in Haddonfield where Sheri Moon Zombie dances to “Love Hurts” in the remake. I own a replica of these matches that I got off eBay. No one is allowed to use them.
As Dr. Loomis is telling Nurse Cancersticks Michael should never be allowed out of the hospital, they see the sanitarium patients wandering around in the rain. One of them—Michael—jumps on the car like a frog, nonsensically shatters a window with just the palm of his hand and drives off in it, despite supposedly not knowing how to drive or which direction to go. We all know it makes no sense. You just go with it.
In Haddonfield, it’s a beautiful October day. Halloween day. Leaves are on the ground, leaves that I once read had to be spray painted brown because they filmed this in Pasadena and here in L.A. we have no seasons. And there’s Laurie, with her white stockings and her schoolbooks, looking extremely virginal, promising her real estate dad she’ll remember to drop the key off at the Myers’ house. I feel like the dad could’ve just done it himself, considering he’s getting in his car, not to mention there’s really no need to drop off keys in the first place since he’s meeting potential buyers there at 10:30, but whatever.
On the way Laurie sees young Tommy Doyle. He is instantly annoying. Laurie is babysitting him tonight because I guess in Haddonfield parents never spend time with their kids on Halloween. The two come upon the vacant Myers’ house, which is now looking even worse and exactly like a house where someone got murdered 15 years ago would look. Laurie doesn’t care. Despite Tommy’s warnings she marches up to the door and puts the key under the mat, not knowing Michael Myers is watching her from inside. Oh, and eating a dog, we find out later.
Dr. Loomis saw it coming. He’s been going around screaming at everyone for not listening when he said Michael was dangerous, including some Mike Brady-looking hospital idiot who is trying to inaccurately pin any future mayhem on Dr. Loomis for letting Michael go. They just can’t get it through their thick skulls that Michael is pure evil. Convinced Michael is going back to Haddonfield to murder everyone, Dr. Loomis speeds away in his shitty BMW.
Back at school, Laurie is in philosophy class. As the teacher is going on about fate, Laurie gazes out the window and sees Michael standing behind the station wagon he stole, staring at right at her. Without context he looks like either an obvious serial killer or a spurned lover. Tommy gets bullied and accidentally smashes a pumpkin while Michael meanders around town in the wagon. And Dr. Loomis, who is still trying to warn everyone Michael’s is on his way to Haddonfield, finds an abandoned work truck with Nurse Cancersticks’ matchbook nearby, puts two and two together and runs off, not bothering to notice the dead guy lying in the brush.
Kill count: 2.
That explains how Michael got the coveralls. Pretty impressive survival skills for someone who’s been locked away for 15 years and doesn’t speak.
Now that we’re 20 minutes in, it’s safe to assume anyone you meet from this point on is a superfluous character and eventually is going to die. One of those people is Lynda, a satin-jacketed cheerleader with way too much to do before the big homecoming dance tomorrow night. She and Laurie meet up with Annie, and now it looks like we have to worry about her too. As the three of them walk home together, Michael drives by, glaring at Laurie. You half expect him to do the two-fingers-pointing-at-the-eyes-back-and-forth thing at her, like, tonight, we ride, but he keeps going until Annie yells at him “hey jerk, speed kills!” even though he wasn’t speeding at all. He stops, lingers, then drives away before reappearing a minute later lurking behind a hedge. Laurie finally starts to get the creeps, especially when she sees him again among the sheets on the clothesline that nobody in L.A. would ever use so it must have been a prop.
By now, Dr. Loomis has made it to Haddonfield. His first stop is the cemetery so he can check on the grave of Michael’s sister, but it’s gone. Stolen. And NOT EVEN THE CEMETERY GUY WILL LISTEN. It’s like nobody remembers what Michael did. I once knew someone whose brother went to jail for selling weed, and I never forgot it. I seriously doubt you’d forget something like this.
Meanwhile, Laurie and Annie are listening to Blue Oyster Cult and getting inappropriately high on their way to their babysitting gig when they see Annie’s sheriff dad outside the hardware store. Apparently someone stole a Halloween mask, rope and a couple of knives. This sounds exactly like a murder kit to me but doesn’t seem to concern the sheriff much at all. The people in this town are awfully indifferent when it comes to spotting trouble. No wonder Dr. Loomis is acting like such a drama queen, as you can see by the speech he gives the sheriff back at the Myers’ house:
I met him 15 years ago. I was told there was nothing left, no reason, no conscious, no understanding or even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, good or bad, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child with this bland, pale, emotionless face, the blackest eyes, the devil’s eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized what was living behind that boy’s eyes was simply evil.
Slow clap. So awesome.
The sheriff sort of believes him and leaves Dr. Loomis at the house to wait for Michael. What Dr. Loomis doesn’t know is Michael has followed the girls to their babysitting houses to kill them. You still don’t really know why, and again, you don’t ask. You just go with it.
Tommy, who appears to be dressed as James Brolin in Capricorn One, looks out the window and sees Michael standing on the porch across the street. He tells Laurie he sees the boogeyman and she gets weirdly mad. Hello, you’ve been getting stalked all day by a tall, dark stranger. Like, WTF. I would have called the police like 10 times by now.
Annie doesn’t seem all that worried either. She’s chatting on the phone with Laurie, making popcorn and yelling at Lindsey. When she spills melted butter on her pants, she takes every single article of clothing off to put in the wash. Through a window Michael watches her undress while possibly touching himself, then kills the dog.
Kill count: 3 & 4. (One for this dog, one for the dog earlier. Dogs count.)
He then strangles Annie from the back seat of her car, which is the reason I never, ever get in a car without inspecting the back.
Kill count: 5.
Tommy sees Michael carrying dead Annie and starts screaming about the boogeyman again. Laurie threatens him with the worst thing in the world for a kid his age: bed. That shuts him up.
Dr. Loomis is still waiting for Michael outside the Myers’ house. The sheriff starts to lose patience with him and his “fancy talk.”
Lynda and Bob make it to Lindsey’s house and get all excited when they find out they have the house to themselves because it means they can smoke and drink and bang with no kid around. (Never mind the fact that it’s not even their house.) After they inappropriately have sex in the Wallace’s bed, Bob goes downstairs to raid the refrigerator for beer. Just then Michael comes out from behind a door, stabs Bob to the wall and then stands there looking at him, cocking his head from side to side like dogs do when you whistle.
Kill count: 6.
In one of the most chilling scenes in horror, Lynda is filing her nails In bed as the door creaks open, revealing Michael silently standing there in a white sheet, wearing Bob’s glasses. She responds by giggling at her own jokes and showing him her boobs. “See anything you like?” Yeah, as a matter of fact he does, girlfriend. It’s called your throat.
Bob doesn’t answer her because it’s not Bob. Lynda decides she’s bored and calls Laurie, but before Lynda can say anything Michael comes up from behind and strangles her to death with the telephone cord.
Kill count: 7.
(She doesn’t have much screen time, but I love PJ Soles. She does horror conventions now. I bet a million guys have asked her to lift up her shirt and say, “see anything you like?”)
At this point Laurie starts to wonder where the hell everyone is. The house across the street seems awfully quiet considering there’s supposed to be a bunch of sex going on. She goes to check things out and finds Annie, dead, lying in front of Judith Myers’ gravestone. Out of nowhere, you then see an upside-down dead Bob swinging in a closet . A cupboard opens and there’s Lynda, dead as well.
Laurie stands there, crying. I would leave there, running. Not to sound paranoid, but I already assume there’s a maniac around every corner of my house waiting to stab me and I have exit strategies. (Contrary to what my husband says, this is not due to the fact I’ve seen too many horror movies. It’s thanks to the fact that I’ve seen enough horror movies. There’s a difference.) Sure enough, Michael appears in the darkness behind her and knife-slices her arm. She falls over a railing, tumbles down the stairs and somehow manages to get the fuck out of there.
Michael follows her. Laurie limp-runs to the neighbor’s and pounds on the door, but they turn the light off like, now you can’t see me. She then goes back to Tommy’s house, with its open windows big enough for a human to fit through and, needing a weapon, grabs a knitting needle. Suddenly Michael pops up from behind the couch with a knife like the most terrifying surprise party guest ever and Laurie jabs the needle into his neck.
Assuming that was enough to stop him (it wasn’t), Laurie goes upstairs and tells the kids she killed Michael. However, as Tommy points out, you can’t kill the boogeyman, which is why Michael shows up at the top of the stairs just then like I’m Rick James, bitch! and stomps toward them. With nowhere else to go, Laurie hides in a bedroom closet with an unusual amount of unused wire hangers. Michael finds her, they scuffle and she stabs him in the eye.
The kids come out and she tells them to run over to the Mackenzie’s house (which may not be the best advice if the Mackenzies are the dicks who wouldn’t open the door earlier.) Then Laurie, again wrongly figuring Michael is dead, decides now is as good a time as any to just sit there. Behind her, Michael’s all, PSYCH! NOT DEAD as he sits up, creepily turns his head and looks at her.
The scary music plays. She stands up. He stands up.
Outside, Dr. Loomis sees the kids running from the house screaming their heads off. He knows Michael is near.
Exhausted, Laurie starts to walk away, unaware of the fact that Michael is right behind her. He goes to strangle Laurie but is stopped when Dr. Loomis shows up and shoots him. For a tiny second, Michael’s mask comes off and you see he’s actually kind of cute, but Dr. Loomis isn’t gay so this probably doesn’t occur to him. He shoots him again until Michael finally falls over the balcony. Laurie is still crying as Dr. Loomis runs over and looks down from the balcony to see Michael’s twisted body on the ground lying in the shape the Karate Kid makes.
“It was the boogeyman,” Laurie utters.
“As a matter of fact, it was.” replies Dr. Loomis. He looks over the balcony again and sees nothing but ground and spray painted leaves. Michael is gone.
And you’re all, WHAT.
He’s in the wind, in the air, all around.
The music plays.
Dr. Loomis is baffled.
Laurie is sobbing.
And Michael lives to see the sequel. 🔪🖤
Read Halloween II (1981)
Read Halloween (2007)