Here’s something no one ever talks about – just how shaky the opening shot of Halloween is. Not that bit where the little kid puts on the mask and does some cuttin’, but the bit before that, where the credits are running while a jack o’ lantern just keeps getting closer, and closer, and closer.
The pumpkin just keeps on wobbling back and forth. Apparently, someone said, “We need a shot of that. Okay, someone grab the camera, turn it on, and walk towards it. No, no! Slow. Slower… Really, really, really slooowww…”
Then concluded with, “Wait, maybe we should have used the Steadicam? Oh well. It’s not like someone is going to be watching this thing thirty years from now.”
Once the pumpkin bids us a fond farewell, a friendly burn-in alerts us to the fact that we’re in Haddonfield, Illinois. Good thing. With all those palm trees on the edges of the frame, I would have thought we were in California somewhere.
It seems it’s Halloween in 1963, and here we were in a little old point-of-view shot, first walking up to a house, then peeking through the windows inside the house, so we can watch a teenaged girl and a teenaged boy make out for a bit.
The girl and boy head upstairs, where I’m sure they’re going to engage in a wholesome activity of some kind.
Then “we” run around to the back of the house, open a drawer in the kitchen, and pull out a rather large knife. Perhaps “we” just want some more Halloween turkey?
No, it seems like “we’re” going to head upstairs, pausing and hiding when the boyfriend, who is tucking his shirt in and leaving a minute after “we” saw him head upstairs.
“That was quick” doesn’t seem to cover it.
“We” head upstairs, where we find a little clown mask and put it on. So now we’re looking through eye slits as we head into the girl’s room and stab her to death. She calls out “our” name – Michael.
“We” head outside, the shot reverses, and a dad-and-mom looking couple pull off “our” mask and inquire, “Michael?” Which seems inadequate somehow. You’d think most people would be all, “So… what’s with the bloody knife?”
But the movie fades out, and fades back in, letting us know that we’re now in Smith’s Grove, Illinois, and it’s October 30, 1978.
A car zips on down the rainy, rainy road. Inside are a doctor and a nurse. They’re driving along, the gist of their conversation being, “We’re gonna take this no-longer-a-kid, dope him up, stick him in front of a judge and then bring him back.”
This conversation continues until they get to the mental hospital, which features crazy people running around on the front lawn. The doctor is concerned about this, while the nurse just figures the hospital has stupid policies.
The doctor tells the nurse to drive up to the gate, then gets out of the car and goes to a phone to call someone in the building.
The minute he’s out of the car, a dude in a hospital gown jumps on top of the car and terrifies the nurse. The nurse runs from the car, and the begowned man hops in the car and drives away.
“The evil is gone from here!” cries the doctor. Which I guess sounds more ominous than, “Some crazy dude just stole my car!”
Then it’s back to Haddonfield, on Halloween day.
And here comes our heroine, who is directed by her father to “drop off the key at the Myers place” and instructed to put the key under the mat. Ah, fake small towns in the 70s, so full of trust.
Our heroine goes to drop off the key, and one of the kids she babysits runs up and asks her a bunch of questions. Eventually it’s revealed that he’s there in an expositional capacity. He informs everyone that missed the first five minutes of the movie that “something bad” happened at the Myers house.
Our heroine laughs it off – what could possibly happen because she chooses to drop off a key?
The scary dude standing behind the door, just out of sight through the window does not do any laughing. Perhaps he’s just basking in the irony. Always assuming that this is irony.
Our heroine heads off to school.
Back at the hospital, the doctor lets another doctor, and the audience, know that the crazy dude got away.
Back again with our heroine, it’s time for class! Yep. There she is, just sitting and taking notes and learning things, when what should happen? She glances out the window and sees a creepy dude in a mask. This interrupts her train of thought, but not so much that she isn’t able to answer a question posed by the teacher.
And then it’s over to our heroine’s little baby-sitee, who is taunted by a bunch of other kids who inform him that the boogyman is going to get him. Eventually, they all leave, and the boy is stalked by, yes, the boogyman. Or rather, the crazy dude from the mental hospital.
So, you know, in case you haven’t put it all together, the guy from the hospital is little Michael. All growed up.
Michael gets in a car and follows the little boy down the street for a few minutes. Today, of course, a creepy guy in a mask driving a car stolen from a mental hospital would probably cause the neighborhood watch to come rushing out of their homes, baseball bats in hand.
But I guess things were different in 1978 in fake Illinois.
Somewhere out on the road, Michael’s doctor calls the Haddonfield sheriff from a pay phone and tells him that Michael is on his way. Then he wanders over to a place just off the road, where a red truck has… I’m not sure, really. Skidded to a halt?
Doesn’t matter. The important thing is that the doc finds a hospital gown. So now I guess we know where Michael got his clothing. From a random truck by the side of the road.
Yes, folks, when you’re building a legend of horror, make sure you tell everyone where the man got his pants.
(Oh, wait, the camera panned over and showed us a dead guy. A man died so our killer could have pants. I guess the question is, did Michael just kill a guy, and lucky for him, they were the same size? Or did he wait until he saw a dude who looked just about the right height, and ran him off the road? Or is there a trail of bodies going back for miles, each missing an item of clothing?)
Then it’s back to our heroine, and her friends who are mean to her because she’s all nerdy and likes school and doesn’t date very much.
As they proceed to walk home, Michael drives by in his stolen vehicle, and one of the girls yells out, “Hey jerk, speed kills.” Michael stops for a long tense moment, then drives away.
As they walk, just for fun, you can look at the green, green leaves on the trees, and the brown dead leaves on the ground. Ah, movie magic.
Oh, hey, someone finally called our heroine by name – she’s Laurie. We find this out when Laurie spots Michael standing by a hedge, only then he vanishes into thin air, and one of her friends makes fun of her.
The girls all arrive at their various homes, and Laurie goes up to her room. She looks out the window and spots Michael, who is standing by the laundry on the clothesline. A tense moment passes (man, this happens a lot, huh?) and suddenly, the phone rings.
Laurie hears noise, but no talking, so she hangs up. The phone rings again, and it’s her friend, calling to let Laurie know when she’s going to pick Laurie up.
Later, Laurie grabs a pumpkin and heads out the door. She gets in her friend’s car, and they light up what is in no way a cigarette.
And now it’s time for “more exposition with the good doctor.” Doc has decided to head to the cemetery, where he learns that Michael’s sister’s headstone has been stolen. Here’s a question – why did he go there? Just on the off chance that the headstone might be missing?
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, it’s back to Cheech and Chong go babysitting.
On the way, they’re forced to stub out their recreational drug when they encounter Laurie’s friend’s dad, who happens to be the local sheriff. He informs them that someone broke into the hardware store and stole Halloween masks, rope, and a couple of knives.
Point of order – Michael’s been wandering around in a mask for at least three hours we can account for. Just how slowly do the wheels of justice grind? The hardware store’s alarm is blaring, which implies the store was just robbed.
So was the store closed all day, and the Michael had to break in to steal a few items? Maybe if they were open weekdays, they could do some actual business. For all we know, Michael would have happily paid for the items he took using money from his stolen pants.
The girls drive away just as the doctor (Loomis, it turns out his name is) runs up to talk to the sheriff.
The girls drive on, toking and conversing, and by the time they arrive at their destination, it’s fully dark. Man, that was one long drive. It was late afternoon like a second ago.
Michael follows them to their destination in his stolen car.
Oh, hey! Laurie’s smoky friend also has a name – Annie.
Around the same time, Loomis takes the local sheriff to take a look at the Myers house. They find a dead dog in the house. The dog is still warm. Loomis notes that, “He got hungry.” I have to presume he’s not talking about the dog.
Loomis takes this opportunity to tell the sheriff that Michael is, like, totally evil. And that he shouldn’t alert the media to the fact that the kid has e scaped, because otherwise people will see him, “On every street corner.”
The sheriff goes to tell his men not to alert the press, and Loomis opts to stay by the house in case Michael comes back to consume more dog.
Meanwhile, at Laurie’s Babysitting Adventure Hour, Laurie is reading a book to the kid, whose name is Tommy. Tommy doesn’t like the book. He’s into comics now, which he shows to Laurie. Then he asks what the boogyman is, only the phone rings.
Annie is calling, pretty much just to say hello, I guess. She’s making popcorn for Lindsey, the girl Annie is babysitting tonight. She talks until a huge dog shows up in the kitchen and does some barking, for some reason.
Then we take a peek-see outside of the house Annie is in, and there’s Michael, prowling around.
Annie and Laurie yack about boys while Michael skulks around, until Annie spills something on herself. She strips out of her clothing and puts on a man’s work shirt, which just happens to be in arm’s reach.
Outside, Michael does more skulking, until the dog comes outside and starts barking at him. Michael decides he needs a snack. Or maybe he just kills the dog for being annoying. Or perhaps he just hugged it a little too hard. It’s tough to tell with serial killers.
Elsewhere, Laurie assures Tommy that she will not let the boogyman get him. This is because she doesn’t think the boogyman exists.
Annie takes her clothing to the laundry hut, which is located way off in the backyard. Seriously. The laundry room is in a shed in the backyard. In Illinois.
That must be kind of tough to use in the winter. Maybe everyone in the house owns a metric ton of clothing, which they burn for warmth after wearing it once or twice.
The door to the laundry shed shuts, locking Annie inside the shed while Michael looks in through various windows. Annie attempts to escape, and her little charge Lindsey finally comes to rescue her.
How she manages to lock herself inside a shed remains forever a mystery.
Annie’s boyfriend Paul calls Annie, and they have some mature but restrained banter. Annie is instructed to pick up Paul at his house, only Lindsey wants to sit and watch TV. So Annie, who is wearing a men’s work shirt and her underpants, walks Lindsey across the street to hang out with Laurie and Tommy.
Seriously, chick is walking around with no pants. That stretches the definition of Halloween costume. Perhaps Michael can kill someone and give the corpse’s pants to Annie. He seems to be good with the whole killing people for pants thing.
Annie walks her pantsless self to her car, then realizes it is locked and she doesn’t have her keys. So she goes to get her keys, comes back, and opens the door without the keys.
Yes indeed, folks… something bad is going to happen. In this case, it’s Annie’s death by strangulation.
Back in Tommy’s house, Tommy goes to the window and starts talking in a creepy voice to freak out Lindsey. He glances out the window and sees Michael carrying a quite-dead Annie across the lawn.
He flips out. Laurie comes running, but doesn’t see anything, and she figures Tommy is just being a problem. She threatens to send him to bed, and he quiets down. No cadaver is worth an early bedtime.
At the Myers house, Loomis freaks out some kids who are daring each other to go into the house. The sheriff arrives and says no one has seen anything unusual. So Loomis does another “No, really, Michael is eeevil” monologue.
Over at the house where Annie is lying around being all dead, Laurie and Annie’s other friend shows up with her boyfriend. Instructions are given. Annie will distract Lindsey, and then they’ll sneak up to the first bedroom on the left.
The boyfriend replies: “First I’ll rip your clothes off. Then you’ll rip my clothes off. Then we’ll rip Lindsey’s clothes off. Dude! Lindsey is seven. The boyfriend needs to end this movie in a Turkish prison.
The Other Friend replies, “Totally.” I guess we should all just be glad she’s not the babysitter.
The Boyfriend and The Other Friend run into the house. The boyfriend doesn’t close the door on his van. Whoops.
The couple notices that no one is in the house. Or at the very least, they’re so distracted by making out that they don’t notice Michael standing in the corner, watching them.
The Other Friend calls Laurie up, and they pretty much tell each other a bunch of stuff we already know. This makes The Other Friend happy. “Lindsey is gone for the night!” she crows to her boyfriend. “Hey, that’s wonderful,” he replies.
Given his earlier dialogue, I guess I’m just glad he didn’t say, “Aw… are you sure?”
The couple heads upstairs. To play board games. On the bed. Under the sheets. The boyfriend is put out because the phone keeps ringing, so they take the phone off the hook, and get back to what they were doing.
This lasts about another 30 seconds. The Other Friend declares it was “Fantastic. Totally.” Then she demands that her boyfriend bring her a beer. He complies, because he has found a girlfriend with incredibly low expectations, and he wishes to keep her.
Down in the kitchen, the boyfriend notices a door is open. He figures it’s Annie, playing some kind of joke. But, naturally, it’s Michael, who takes a kitchen knife, lifts the boyfriend up into the air, and then pins him to the wall like a butterfly.
Upstairs, The Other Friend is sitting around, waiting for her beer, when her “boyfriend” appears in the doorway, dressed in a sheet with eyeholes.
Now, granted, that’s pretty creepy, and of course we as the audience are aware that it’s Michael behind the sheet. So we’re all like, “Nooo! Run awaaay!”
But logically, it makes no sense at all. The Other Friend shouldn’t be all, “Hey, where’s my beer?” She should be all, “Hey, Boyfriend, you seriously found a sheet and tore two holes in it at a house you’ve never been in?”
For that matter, what was Michael thinking? He’s going to kill the girl anyway. But instead of just going in and getting it done, he had to think, “Okay, I need to find a sheet. Then I need to cut eyeholes in it, and put it on. And then I’ll take boyfriend’s glasses and put them on over the sheet, so The Other Girl will just think I’m her boyfriend, fooling around.
“Then, once she’s convinced I’m her boyfriend being a big jerk for no reason, I’m sure she’ll get up and face away from me, so I can sneak up on her and strangle her. This is an excellent plan, and I can find no flaw in it.”
The end game is, The Other Friend calls Laurie, and then gets strangled to death while Laurie listens in. At first, Laurie figures that The Other Friend is just sharing a special moment with her, but then she gets a little freaked out.
Over at the Myers house Loomis finally looks around and notices, hey, there’s a car here that appears to have been stolen from a mental hospital. How he missed seeing it over the last several hours is something of a mystery. It’s less than 50 feet away from him.
Either way, Loomis decides to take a little walk.
Laurie, who has put the kids to bed, also decides to take a walk. She heads across the street to figure out just what, exactly, was happening during her last phone call from The Other Friend.
She tries the doorbell, and then knocks. When no one answers, she wanders to the back of the house and finds the unlocked door. She walks in and wanders through the dark house, not turning on a single light.
At first she’s all, “This isn’t funny, y’all.” Then she starts to freak out, but still opts to head upstairs to examine just what, exactly, is going on. If The Boyfriend was still alive, this would probably be a dream come true for him.
Laurie heads down the hallway, eventually coming to what is not the first door on the left. In the bedroom, Laurie finds Annie dead on the bed, with Michael’s sister’s headstone taking the place of the headboard. Then she finds The Dead Boyfriend in a wardrobe, and The Other Dead Friend in a closet.
She freaks and walks out into the hallway, instead of running out of the house really, really fast. Michael pops out of a closet and tries to stab her, but only gouges her a little bit.
Laurie runs down to the kitchen to escape, locking the kitchen door behind her. But the back door has been closed, and a rake has been shoved in front of the door handle outside, so Laurie can’t get out.
Michael smashes through the kitchen door. Laurie breaks a glass panel in the back door and shoves the rake away.
Laurie then runs out of the house. She screams, and runs to the neighbor’s house to get help, only they won’t come out and offer assistance. What an awesome neighborhood.
Laurie runs back across the street to the house she’s supposed to be babysitting at. Only she forgot the keys. Oops.
She tosses a flowerpot at the second story window, smashing the pot, and calls to Tommy. Tommy comes down and opens the front door as Michael stalks up.
She locks the door and tells Tommy to go upstairs and lock the door.
Laurie tries to phone. It isn’t working.
Laurie grabs a knitting needle, and Michael, who found another way in, pops up from behind the couch and tries to stab Laurie. Laurie stabs him in the neck with the knitting needle.
Michael yanks the needle out, then falls over. Laurie grabs the knife Michael dropped and peers over the couch at Michael, who appears to be dead. Then she collapses on the couch.
Not the best choice anyone ever made.
Out on the street, Loomis walks along, looking for signs of dead people.
Laurie, meanwhile, heads upstairs and tells the kids that she killed the boogyman. Only, hey, there he is, right behind her.
The kids run in their room and lock the door, and Laurie runs to another room with a closet that appears to be made of balsa wood.
Michael tries to break in while Laurie freaks right out, which is a fairly appropriate response at this point.
Laurie grabs a hanger and gives Michael a solid stab right to the eye. Michael drops his knife, and Laurie picks it up and stabs Michael again.
Sadly, she once again fails to just keep on stabbing until the killer is reduced to tiny slivers of meat. Instead she steps out of the closet, over the “body,” and goes to Tommy and Lindsey’s room.
She tells them to go down the street to another house, and have those people call the police. While Laurie stays in the house. For some reason.
The kids race out the door, screaming, and hey! There’s Dr. Loomis, who happened to be looking around for screaming kids.
He heads towards the house.
Inside, Michael gets up off the floor again and grabs Laurie. There’s some choking, and Laurie pulls off Michael’s mask.
Michael pauses to put his mask back on, and Loomis comes up the stairs and shoots him.
Michael opts to stand, passively, while Loomis shoots him five more times. Michael then falls out a window, dropping from the second floor to the ground.
Laurie asks, “Was it the boogyman?”
Loomis replies, “As a matter of fact, it was.”
Then Loomis looks out the window at the ground. Michael has vanished.
The movie concludes with shots of various locations, as the soundtrack rumbles with the sound of Michael breathing through his mask. The movie closes on a shot of the Myers house.