Every Halloween, there's a choice to make. Which selection of scary movies will you use to appropriately spookify your All Hallow's Eve? It can be a tough decision with many classics of the genre at your disposal, but let me make this easy for you.
Watch John Carpenter's "Halloween." If you've already seen it, watch it again.
I say this because, even though it's widely recognized as an important horror film (it's on the National Film Registry), "Halloween" still somehow manages to not get the credit it deserves as the perfect movie for the holiday.
As far as Halloween movies go, the story of Michael Myers gets a leg up for actually taking place on the night. (That wasn't always the case. The original draft of the screenplay was called "The Babysitter Murders.") Even if the connection is tangential, the tie between the original and All Hallow's Eve is there. That's something Freddy and Jason can't offer.
The movie's ability to disturb is no accident. In the '70s and '80s, Carpenter presented example after example of his power as a filmmaker, working especially well with genre.
With shots like these, he showed the kind of restraint and knack for striking framing that has all but disappeared from horror movies.
This is a well-made movie that taps directly into what is unsettling.
Just look at the design of Michael Myers for a second. His whited-out William Shatner mask couldn't be more plain, and that's its power. He's just far enough away from looking normal to shake something deep inside us.
But at the end of the day, this is a slasher flick.
And that's not a knock. Some movies are just about killing babysitters without too much of an explanation. (Laurie Strode wasn't Michael's sister at this point.) And some movies about killing babysitters are much scarier and made by better filmmakers than others. Plenty of movies have down shots as simple as Michael breaking into the closet, but how many actually look like this?
No matter how many times you see it, "Halloween" is just one of those movies that keeps coming back, creeping into your mind and telling you that it's time to watch it again.