"It's Halloween, I guess everyone is entitled to one good scare"
The mother of them all! Halloween was made during a time when horror films were few and far between. "Psycho" started the slasher genre in 1960 but the genre laid dormant for almost 2 decades until John Carpenter came along and changed film history forever.
Halloween was released in 1978 and cost a mere $320,000 to make but it earned far more than that, becoming the highest grossing independent film at that time. The film is so simple yet so effective. The film follows Laurie Strode (played by a then unknown Jamie Lee Curtis) and her friends on the night of Halloween as they are stalked and killed by a masked assailant. By today's standards this story has been told a million times over, by in the late 1970s this was something new. Especially the tone that Carpenter brought forth. The film is genuinely scary because of the simpleness to it. Michael Myers is portrayed as a faceless character, and when you do see his face (only twice) he shows no emotion whatsoever. The film begins with a very long POV shot of a young girl being stalked and then murdered, when the scene is over you discover the person whose point of view it came from was a 6-year-old boy. Just the thought of that is enough to chill you to the bone!
This film also really established the horny, drug crazed teenagers that followed oh, so many times in the following decade. This really defined many films since then. And it was even the basis of the 2012 film "The Cabin in the Woods".
Overall, much can be said about Carpenter and his influence on the horror genre. Halloween was his crowning achievement and sadly he has distanced himself as much as he can from the film. I guess he got tired of being constantly reminded of it, but it's a shame he doesn't like it anymore. It seems over the past few years Carpenter has really distanced himself from all of his films, he almost comes off as if he resents the films. But, he has left us with a great amount of fantastic horror/sci-fi films to choose from.
Halloween was such a success that a franchise began followed by the 1981 sequel "Halloween II" which was produced and written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill. "Halloween III" which came out the following year was also produced and written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill. The duo left the franchise after that never to be attached to it again.