I don’t think I actually saw the original Halloween (1978) until after college. Perhaps I saw it earlier and just didn’t remember it, but I don’t think I actually saw it until relatively late in life. Growing up, I wasn’t really into “slasher movies,” though the Friday the 13th franchise was frequently on TV, so I caught a few of those here and there. I’ve seen parts of A Nightmare on Elm Street, but never the whole thing. The 1980s were the heyday of slasher franchises, so I remember going to the Gerbes in Columbia to check out movies available for rental and seeing all of the covers for lots of movies I’d only later be old enough to actually watch.
The thing I really appreciate about the first Halloween movie is that it a). kicked off the “slasher” genre, and b). contains no blood. Not a drop. There’s tension, there’s violence. But there’s no gore to it. Not that I’m against such things, but I think it sets itself apart from other movies that came out in that era and later that leaned so hard into gross-out territory that it wasn’t really scary so much as it was shocking. Later movies in the Halloween franchise definitely kicked things up a few notches, but they weren’t better for it. In fact, the movies were barely comprehensible, aside from a few examples that weren’t utter train wrecks.
This brings us to Halloween (2018), technically the third movie to bear that name (there was another reboot in 2007 that wasn’t all that bad). This film has a few things going for it that piqued my interest. Firstly, it ignores all of the other movies except the original, which is a crazy thing for a franchise to do. Secondly, it takes place, in real time, 40 years later, so the passage of time is integral to the story being told. Lastly, they got Jamie Lee Curtis back to portray Laurie Strode, but with 40 years of trauma built in that turned her into a secluded “prepper,” who is ready for the return of Michael Meyers.
As the original is probably my favorite horror movie of all time, it isn’t surprising that I liked this one, too. I like the direction it took, the story it told, and the characters involved in telling it. This new iteration was, in some ways a “remake” of the original, which has been the trend in Hollywood to “tell a new story” by “retelling the old one” (Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes to mind). However, I think this one leaned more toward “callback” than “retelling.” Some similar story beats were totally there, like the psychiatrist and sheriff pairing up to find Michael, or the babysitter connected to the main characters being a target on Halloween night, and so on. But I think the writers did a good job of acknowledging the original movie while putting enough twists in the plot to make it a new thing. The fact that I knew certain main characters wouldn’t die (because they’re main characters…), but I still felt tense at the edge of my seat, is a testament to what they were able to craft here.
So yeah, it was good. Was it as good as the original? Probably not. But this movie still didn’t have all that much gore to it. There’s totally violence and, this time, there’s blood in there…but it wasn’t over-done like some horror films will do. It wasn’t as much “shocking” as it was “tense,” and I think that’s about as true to the original as you can get.