With slasher films back in the public consciousness following last year's excellent Scream, what better time to take a second look at the film that ushered in the disreputable genre almost 20 years ago? With a new widescreen transfer that finally does it justice, it's more clear than ever that John Carpenter's Halloween is a remarkable film that towers over the endless clones that followed it. In fact—and this doesn't really detract from Scream's cleverness—watching Halloween again makes it apparent just how saddled with poor self-parody so many of its slasher follow-ups were. Halloween, however, has an air of deadly seriousness about it, tapping into a rich vein of suburban dread and sexual discomfort. Carpenter's story of childhood killer Michael Myers' return to the town in which he has become a symbol of all that is dark relies more on suspense and suggestion than cheap shocks and gore, which in itself makes it a better film than its successors. But when the William Shatner rubber mask is lifted to reveal a fresh-faced kid who could just as easily be cavorting with the town's teens as slaying them, the genre has already been taken to its logical limit. Ignore the Prom Nights and the Friday The Thirteenths; Halloween cuts deepest.
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