Spotlight 1978: The Kids Aren’t Alright

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This entry is part of Spotlight 1978, a series where we talk about films released in 1978.

Much has been said about Halloween‘s supposed misogyny. John Carpenter’s slasher masterpiece spends much of its time tracking down promiscuous teenage girls who invites their boyfriends while babysitting. These ladies are the token pawns of every horror flick: nubile, raging with hormones, and easily lured into the depths of slutdom. Feminist critics have lashed against the film for its supposed abuse against women but Halloween, no matter how Carpenter disputes it, is ostensibly a critique of the 1970s-era devolution of moral values among the youth.

It isn’t an entirely original premise and Halloween makes it too obvious from start to finish. There are absent parents, girls walking around in their underwear in front of kids, girls asking out men: it’s the kind of  hankering that would make your lola shoot up in fury and embarrassment. Carpenter coats all of this in a thick blanket of dread. He establishes Michael Myers as an enigmatic form of evil; his intentions aren’t exactly clear. All this proceeds with a remarkable amount of restraint. Deaths aren’t glorified and violence is almost reduced into an off-camera creepshow.

The slow descent into madness is absent, which makes a villain all the more unsettling. Roving around quietly in coveralls and a white mask devoid of any register, Myers isn’t the killer that most modern incarnations make him out to be. He is the boogeyman that stalks our nightmares, a hulking figure that thrives in fear until he slowly becomes one with the darkness that blankets him.

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