Horror films come and horror films go, but there’s only one Halloween: a quickie exploitation grinder that became a masterpiece in the hands of the legendary John Carpenter. It relies on pure technique, as a trio of babysitters are slowly stalked by a masked killer, and though credited with the rise of the slasher genre in the 1980s, none of its followers ever matched its simple, devastating artistry. It opened 40 years ago today in 1978, and the holiday that shares its name has never been the same.
On an entirely different note, we find Camelot, based on the smash Broadway musical and arriving just as the genre began a real decline. Despite the poor timing, it’s a lovely bit of bittersweet nostalgia, and it proved a good-sized hit at the box office. It opened today in 1967.