If you've seen John Carpenter's Halloween, then you know it begins with a creepy sequence presented from the point of view of an unidentified observer, peeping through a window, grabbing a knife from the kitchen, heading up the stairs, and eventually revealing the shocking identity of the culprit. Well, it turns out that was actually the second take; the first, uninterrupted take has now been made available, and it provides a fresh perspective on a sequence that is very familiar to hard-core fans. Take a look below. (Please note: NSFW!)
Watching the opening sequence in rough form -- did you notice the shadow of the movie camera at the foot of the stairs? -- and without sound or music allows us to focus on what makes it so memorable.
1. Point of View
Shooting from the first-person perspective was not a new idea. The most famous example is probably the 1947 crime picture Lady in the Lake, shown entirely through the eyes of detective Raymond Chandler. But it was a great, disorienting way to begin a horror movie.
2. Unknown Motive
As the scene begins, we don't know where we are, or why we are there. When we're looking in through a window at an amorous couple on the couch, it seems that we're meant to identify with a sexual pervert, which is quite an uncomfortable thought.
3. Motive Revealed
Once the stalker enters the house, we suspect burglary of some kind might be on the agenda, but when a kitchen drawer is opened and a large knife removed, we get a knot in our stomach and the tension is definitely heightened.
4. Going Upstairs
We see a young man hurrying down the stairs and out the door. We're not sure exactly what happened, but we can guess. But we don't follow him; we're interested in the young lady and so we head upstairs, which makes us start to fear for her.
5. Clown Mask
Now things really get creepy, but the motive becomes clouded. If the intent is to kill, why bother putting on a mask? In some sick way, the possibility that the knife might be used to inflict pain is even more worrisome.
Again with the peeping, as the young woman is topless. The intruder doesn't seem interested in her partial nudity, though, nor in her angry insistence that he get out of her room. Before we can process what that means, it's too late.
In the final film, the sequence continues until the intruder's identity is shown to be someone we never would have suspected. It's shocking, but what makes the entire opening so memorable is all the moments that lead up to it.