Halloween is a 1978 American independent slasher film directed and scored by John Carpenter, co-written with producer Debra Hill, and starring Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis in her film debut. The film was the first installment in what has become the Halloween franchise. The plot is set in the fictional Midwestern town of Haddonfield, Illinois. On Halloween night in 1963, a six-year-old Michael Myers inexplicably murders his sister and is committed. Fifteen years later, he escapes and returns home to kill again, all the while eluding his psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Loomis, who suspects Michael’s intentions, following him back to Haddonfield.
Halloween was produced on a budget of $300,000 and grossed $47 million at the box office in the United States, and $70 million worldwide, equivalent to roughly $267 million as of 2016, becoming one of the most profitable independent films. Many critics credit the film as the first in a long line of slasher films inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960). Halloween had many imitators and originated several clichés found in low-budget horror films of the 1980s and 1990s. Unlike many of its imitators, Halloween contains little graphic violence and gore. It was one of the first horror films to introduce the concept of the killer dying and coming back to life again within the same film. In 2006, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
Some critics have suggested that Halloween may encourage sadism and misogyny by audiences identifying with its villain. Other critics have suggested the film is a social critique of the immorality of youth and teenagers in 1970s America, with many of Myers’ victims being sexually promiscuous substance abusers, while the lone heroine is depicted as innocent and pure, hence her survival. Nevertheless, Carpenter dismisses such analyses. Several of Halloween‘s techniques and plot elements, although not founded in this film, have nonetheless become standard slasher movie tropes. Halloween spawned seven sequels and was rebooted by Rob Zombie in 2007. The first sequel to the original movie, Halloween II, was released in 1981, three years after its predecessor.