Halloween 1978 The Horror Movie Essay

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Horror films date back over a century ago starting with the 3-minute short film “Le Manoir du Diable (1896)” popularly known as “The House of the Devil” by film's earliest visionaries, Georges Méliès (Rockoff). Horror films are characterized by surreal and unsettling pieces blending in diverse and reconstructed art forms. The horror films are designated to evoke panic, fear, alarm, through a cathartic, captivating and entertaining experience. There are divergent genres of horror film including action horror, body horror; comedy horror; holiday horror; horror adventure; horror drama; psychological horror; superhero horror, zombie horror, gothic horror; science fiction horror, slasher film, splatter film among others. Horror movies peaked in popularity in the 1970s following the debut of 1978 classic slasher based horror film “Halloween” directed by John Carpenter. Crossing over $70 Million on its initial global release with a $320,000 production budget making it the most financially successful single independent (Grant 73). Beyond its commercial success is a legacy spanning several decades shaping the direction for the entire generation of horror film while still shaping tropes of newcomers.

The plot of Halloween 1978 is a psychotic killer, Michael Myers, who stalks and attempts to kill a group of teenage girls; Annie, Laurie Strode, and Lynda after breaking out of the mental hospital on Halloween 1978. The film is based Haddonfield, Illinois where 6-year-old Michael Myers viciously murders his sister after she parted with her boyfriend following a sexual encounter on Halloween night in 1963. Enraged with sexual anger, Michael escapes with a mission of killing Laurie who he considers as a similar version of his sister but kills Laurie’s friends before attempting to kill Laurie. During the Halloween, of 1978, Laurie notices that Michael is stalking her and her friends, Annie and Lynda, dismisses Laurie sentiments as Michael slits Annie's throat and strangles her to death as she leaves the house to pick her boyfriend Paul. As well, he strangles Lynda to death with a telephone cord and stabs Lynda’s boyfriend Bob to death after witnessing the two engage in sex. Michael and Laurie engage in a series of attacks, but they both survive from dying after repeated shooting by Michael’s psychiatrist Dr. Samuel Loomis results into Michael retreating into darkness (Clover 23).

The slasher film mirrors contemporary social construction of gender, sexuality and, feminism in our culture (Cowan).
Like other slasher films, the Halloween 1978 film depicts female inferiority narrative in a rationally masculine society through the “final girl “construct introduced by Clover (23). Clover defines a final girl as “image…

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…and was conflicted to the women empowerment revolution taking place in the US (Cowan).

A striking contrast to the sexist and feminist stereotypes that transcends Halloween 1978 is the maternal feminism by the female characters. The plot is constructed around teenagers babysitting younger children whereby Annie babysits Lindsey Wallace while Laurie babysits Tommy Doyle. Phillips brings the perspective that Laurie depicts inherent motherly qualities, “beyond her overall goodness, Laurie is, perhaps, more importantly, the ‘good mother’ in the film... We see Laurie with Tommy on a number of occasions in which she assuages his fears, chastises him for his naughtiness, and even tries to elevate his reading material” (139). As a babysitter, Laurie is a contrast to the Clovers definition of a final girl who is characterized by masculinity. Laurie is caught in the tradeoff of her safety and the safety of Tommy and Lindsey. According to Clover, the safety of Lindsey and Tom are Laurie’s main safety priority “Again thinking him vanquished, she sends the children to the police and sinks down in pain and exhaustion” (87). The film portrays Laurie as taking a motherly role of caretaker and protector as she prioritizes the safety of Tommy and Lindsey while trying to fight Michael. Upon her first escape from Michael,….....

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Works Cited

Clover, Carol J. Men Women, and Chain Saws. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1992.

Cowan, G., & O?Brien, M. (1990). Gender and Survival vs. Death in Slasher Films: A Content Analysis. Sex Roles, 23(3/4), 187-196.

Grant, Barry Keith. The Dread of Difference: Gender and the Horror Film. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003. Print.

Hutchings, Peter. The Horror Film. Harlow, England: Pearson Longman, 2004. Print.

Phillips, Kendall R. Projected Fears: Horror Films and American Culture. London: Praeger. 2005.

Rockoff, Adam. Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film: 1978-1986. Jefferson, North Carolina; McFarland and Company, Inc. Publishers, 2006.

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