Year: 1978
Production Co: Compass International Pictures
Director: John Carpenter
Writer: John Carpenter
Cast: Donald Pleasance, Jamie Lee Curtis, Nick Castle
What must it have been like to be one of the first to see this film in the cinema, before the term 'slasher' was even coined, let alone overused to the point of exhaustion?

Like most film fans, I first saw it on video during the 80s, and by then this sort of premise was a cliché. In hindsight a melding of Psycho and The Terminator, the motif of the relentless, silent, impossible-to-kill murderer is a good one, but it was a one-joke act and can't really be replicated, as increasingly lame Friday the 13th sequels and a legion of parodies have shown.

If you need the plot explained to you, you probably haven't seen Star Wars either. A young psychopath with a knife fetish escapes from the asylum after wielding his blade and wreaking havoc years before, and he's far from cured – as kindly psychiatrist Pleasance and babysitter Curtis are about to find out.

For all the schlock that surrounds the genre nowadays, it's easy to forget how effective it is; whether it's Carpenter's sparse direction or his chilling five-note riff (a nod to Close Encounters of the Third Kind?)

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