The most successful independent film of all time? John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN (1978)

Halloween is an absolutely merciless thriller…I would compare it to Psycho” (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times). I couldn’t agree more with the late film critic Roger Ebert. Alfred Hitchcock introduced the style of voyeurism or POV shots with his films, in which Carpenter masterfully infuses in his horror classic, Halloween (1978). With a tiny budget of $300,000 the film went on to gross $47 million at the US box office. In 2008 takings that would be the equivalent to $150 million, making Halloween one of the most successful independent films of all time. Due to its shoestring budget, the prop department had to use the cheapest $2 mask that they could find in the costume store: a Star Trek (1966) William Shatner mask. They later spray-painted the face white, teased out the hair, and reshaped the eye holes. This just proves that you don’t need money to make great horror films, you just need a great artist.

John Carpenter paved the wave for a new kind of horror: slasher films. While many sequels and countless of other horror movies tried to imitate Carpenter’s masterful framing and chill-inducing use of shadows, most directors haven’t even come close. Why? Because Carpenter understands the mechanics of classical suspense, as did Alfred Hitchcock. Halloween doesn’t have a drop of blood on screen, there’s just sheer cinematic ingenuity on display to coax screams. This film is a prime example at how suspense can truly create horror. And as of 2015, only one director can proudly say that they have achieved this same haunting intensity as Carpenter did with his masterpiece and that director is David Robert Mitchell with his incredible second feature, It Follows.

If you haven’t seen John Carpenter’s Halloween it is on today at 4:30p.m. on AMC.

Happy Halloween!

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