‘Halloween’ Magic: How a Slasher Flick Redefined a Genre and Became One of the Decade’s Most Important Films

IndieWire | 10/25/1978 | Staff
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Exactly 40 years after John Carpenter’s “Halloween” was released in 1978, David Gordon Green released his modern-day sequel to an estimated $75 million opening weekend. It has the benefit of strong reviews, original star Jamie Lee Curtis’ return to the lead role, and its placement as this year’s holiday horror film release — but it was never just a horror film. This ultra low-budget slasher flick was one of the most important movies to be released in the 1970s.

Among the top-grossing films released in 1978, “Halloween” was no. 10. However, those that did better — “Grease,” “Superman,” “Animal House,” “Every Which Way You Can,” “Heaven Can Wait,” “Hooper,” “Jaws 2,” “Revenge of the Pink Panther,” and “The Deer Hunter” — may be unfamiliar to anyone 40 or younger. Even last weekend, which would be week 2,036 of release, “Halloween” remains vital in the public consciousness: It grossed $9,553 last weekend.

Prices - Film - Budget - Horror - Films

Adjusted to 2018 prices, the 1978 independent film made $184 million on a budget of about $1.3 million. Among R-rated horror films (excluding the sci-fi “Alien” series) it still ranks as #7. It is ahead of any film in iconic horror franchises “Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Saw,” “Friday the 13th,” and “Paranormal Activity,” trailing only the first two “Scream” entries.

However, “Halloween” did more than make a lot of money.

Horror - Films - Days - Nosferatu - Titles

Horror films stretch back to the days of “Nosferatu” in 1922, and then developed into the 1930s’ monster-movie titles at Universal, ‘B’ studio movies like “Cat People” and “I Walked With a Zombie,” and on to the likes of “Psycho,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” early films by Brian De Palma, and “The Exorcist” — a film that, in current dollars, has grossed over $1 billion domestic since its release in 1973.

Drive-in movies were another scary-movie resource with a steady flow independent hits like “Night of...
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