John Carpenter's Halloween
American filmmaker John Carpenter built his reputation in the 1970’s with a series of innovative and in part socially committed genre films. At one time Carpenter had a particular gift in constructing genre films that combined affection and enthusiasm for generic history and innovation and newness for contemporary audiences. After successfully tackling science fiction through the lens of the counter culture in Dark Star (1974) and the western through the lens of contemporary racial tensions and urban disintegration in Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) Carpenter inevitably turned his attention to the horror genre. Halloween popularised the slasher and ‘body count’ horror seen in earlier trend setting examples like Psycho (1960), the absurdity and brilliance of Mario Bava’s cynical Bay of Blood (1971) and Bob Clark’s festive chiller Black Christmas (1974). Halloween polarised independent filmmakers to follow suit and by 1980 the major Hollywood studios had got in on the mass slaughter act with such derivative films as Friday the 13th (1980). The importance and success of Halloween was to gel a multitude of influences and tap into a particular virulent fear in American society.
© Shaun Anderson 2010