#20: Halloween 1978 Dir. John Carpenter
Killer on the loose, check. Nubile teenagers unaware of what's going on, check. Several murders leading to a grand showdown between the last girl standing and the monster in the mask, double check. Often credited for jump starting the slasher genre, Halloween unfairly gets lumped in with tired gorefests when it actually has more in common with Hitchcock's Psycho. Halloween begins in 1963 on Halloween night with a young boy murdering his sister. The film then flashes forward to 1978 when the same young boy, now a grown man, escapes from a mental institution. The majority of the film is spent in the quiet town of Haddonfield, Illinois where a group of high school girls make their plans for Halloween night. By today's standards, this set-up is old hat, but you have to remember that Halloween was the one of the first films (along with Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Black Christmas) to set up what would become tired tropes by 1990. And what's more, this film isn't the gleeful-murder-fest it's later sequels would become. Halloween is a slow and deliberate story that examines the random nature of evil, featuring stellar performances from Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence with skilled direction by Carpenter. Halloweenspawned seven sequels, a remake and a sequel to that remake. Its influence can be felt throughout every horror film that has come after. So, sure if you want a movie to blame for the slasher 80s, this is probably the one, but this movie did it first and did it better than any of the films that came after.