Due to its shoestring budget, the prop department had to use the cheapest $2 mask that they could find in the costume store: a Star Trek (1966) William Shatner mask. They later spray-painted the face white, teased out the hair, and reshaped the eye holes. Shatner admitted that for years he had no idea his likeness was used for this film. It was only during an interview that someone mentioned his mask was being used. He has since stated that he is honored by this gesture.
For years after 'Halloween' was released, people would tell writer/director John Carpenter how horrified they were by Michael Myers grotesquely disfigured face, glimpsed when Laurie pulls his mask off for a moment towards the end of the film. But actually all they saw was the ordinary face of the actor Tony Moran playing the role, perfectly normal except for the small knife wound inflicted by Laurie during their struggle in the closet which was created using Special Effects makeup. Carpenter cites this as evidence of the power of suggestion in cinema, that the audience saw a monster on-screen so assumed that he must look like a monster underneath the mask.
From a budget of $300,000 the film went on to gross $47 million at the US box office. In 2008 takings that would be the equivalent of $150 million, making 'Halloween' one of the most successful independent films of all time.
John Carpenter and Debra Hill have stated many times over the years that they did not consciously set out to depict virginity as a way of defeating a rampaging killer. The reason why the horny teens all die is simply that they're so preoccupied with getting laid that they don't notice that there's a killer at large. Laurie Strode, on the other hand, spends a lot of time on her own and is therefore more alert.
Of the female leads (all the girls are supposed to be in high school), only Jamie Lee Curtis was actually a teenager at the time of shooting.
A young Jamie Lee Curtis was so disappointed with her performance that she became convinced she would be fired after only the first day of filming. When her phone rang that night and it was John Carpenter on the phone, Curtis was certain it was the end of her movie career. Instead, Carpenter called to congratulate her and tell her he was very happy with the way things had gone.
John Carpenter considered the hiring of Jamie Lee Curtis as the ultimate tribute to Alfred Hitchcock who had given her mother, Janet Leigh, legendary status in Psycho (1960).
As the film was shot out of sequence, John Carpenter created a fear meter so that Jamie Lee Curtis would know what level of terror she should be exhibiting.
John Carpenter's intent with the character of Michael Myers was that the audience should never be able to relate to him.
Halloween was shot in 20 days in the spring of 1978. Made on a budget of $300,000, it became the highest-grossing independent movie ever made at that time.
The original script, titled "The Babysitter Murders", had the events take place over the space of several days. It was a budgetary decision to change the script to have everything happen on the same day (doing this reduced the number of costume changes and locations required) and it was decided that Halloween, the scariest night of the year, was the perfect night for this to happen.
John Carpenter approached Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee to play the Sam Loomis role (that was eventually played by Donald Pleasence) but both turned him down due to the low pay. Lee later said it was the biggest mistake he had ever made in his career.
In the documentary short, 'Halloween' Unmasked 2000 (1999), it was revealed that the crew had chosen two masks for Michael Myers to decide on. The first was a Don Post Emmett Kelly smiling clown mask that they put frizzy red hair on. This was an homage to how he killed his sister, Judith, in a clown costume. They tested it out and it appeared very demented and creepy. The other mask was a 1975 Captain James T. Kirk mask that was purchased for around a dollar. It had the eyebrows and sideburns ripped off, the face was painted fish belly white, and the hair was spray painted brown, and the eyes were opened up more. They tested out the Kirk mask and the crew decided that it was much more creepy because it was emotionless. This became the Michael Myers mask.
Half of the $300,000 budget was spent on the Panavison cameras so the film would have a 2.35:1 scope. Donald Pleasence was paid $20,000 for 5 days work.
The Halloween theme is written in the rare 5/4 time signature. John Carpenter learned this rhythm from his father.
As the movie was actually shot in early spring in southern California (as opposed to Illinois in late October), the crew had to buy paper leaves from a decorator and paint them in the desired autumn colors, then scatter them in the filming locations. To save money, after a scene was filmed, the leaves were collected and reused. However, as Jamie Lee Curtis and John Carpenter note on the DVD audio commentary, the trees are quite full and green and even some palm trees can be seen, despite that in Illinois in October, the leaves would probably be mostly gone and there would be no palm trees due to Illinois cold climate - the state is mostly full of deciduous trees.
P.J. Soles went to a screening of the movie after it was released, sitting in the 4th row of a regular audience. She was very amused, when during her nude scene and line of "see anything you like?" a male audience member in front yelled out "Hell yes I do!" unaware she was right behind him.
All of the actors wore their own clothes, since there was no money for a costume department. Jamie Lee Curtis went to J.C. Penney for Laurie Strode's wardrobe. She spent less than one hundred dollars for the entire set. She shot the film while on hiatus from the sitcom Operation Petticoat: Operation Petticoat (1977).
Prior to the movie, a book was written by Curtis Richards, and reveals more of the story behind Michael's rage. However, the book is very rare.
Dr. Sam Loomis is Michael Myers' psychiatrist. Sam Loomis is also the name of Marion Crane's secret lover in Psycho (1960). Coincidentally, Marion Crane was played by Jamie Lee Curtis's mother, Janet Leigh, and Annie is played by actress Nancy Kyes, who was credited as Nancy Loomis. The name Loomis was also used in Scream (1996).
Inside Laurie's bedroom there is a poster of a painting by James Ensor (1860-1949). Ensor was a Belgian expressionist painter who used to portray human figures wearing grotesque masks.
Originally, Nick Castle was on set just to watch the movie be filmed. It was at the suggestion of John Carpenter that he took up the role of Michael Myers.
Jamie Lee Curtis' first feature film. She was paid a reported $8,000 for her efforts.
John Carpenter was quite intimidated by Donald Pleasence, of whom he was a big fan and who was easily the oldest and most experienced person on set. Although Pleasence asked Carpenter difficult questions about his character, Pleasence turned out to be a good-humored, big-hearted individual and the two became great friends. Pleasence went on to appear in two other Carpenter films.
When they were shooting the scenes for the start of the film (all the ones seen from Michael's point of view) they couldn't get the 6-year old child actor until the last day, so the movie's producer, Debra Hill, volunteered to be Michael for any scenes where his hands come into view. This is why the nails on young Michael's hands look so well manicured and varnished.
The scene where The Shape seems to appear out of the darkness behind Laurie was accomplished by using a simple dimmer switch on the light that slowly illuminated the mask.
The character of Michael Myers was named after the European distributor of Carpenter's previous film, Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) as a kind of weird "thank you" for the film's overseas success.
The opening shot appears to be a single, tracking, point of view shot, but there are actually three cuts. The first when the mask goes on, and the second and third after the murder has taken place and the shape is exiting the room. This was done to make the point of view appear to move faster.
For its first airing on television, extra scenes had to be added to make it fit the desired time slot. John Carpenter filmed these during the production of Halloween II (1981) against his better judgment.
John Carpenter wrote the part of Lynda for P.J. Soles after seeing her performance in Brian De Palma's Carrie (1976).
Donald Pleasence confessed to John Carpenter that the main reason why he took the part of Loomis was because his daughter Angela (who was a musician) had loved Carpenter's musical score for his previous movie Assault on Precinct 13 (1976).
Much credit for the concept must go to its producer Irwin Yablans, who had the concept originally for a horror film called "The Babysitter Murders". Upon further research, Yablans discovered to his surprise that no previous film had been titled "Halloween" and thought it would be a great concept to set these "babysitter murders" on the holiday. With these ideas, Yablans convinced an excited John Carpenter to write and direct a film around them.
The "Myers" house was a locale found in South Pasadena that was largely the decrepit, abandoned place seen in the majority of the film. However, as the house had to look ordinary (and furnished) for the early scenes with the young Michael Myers, almost the whole cast and crew worked together to clean the place, move in furniture, put up wallpaper, and set up running water and electricity, and then take it all out when they were through.
As the film was made in spring, the crew had huge difficulty in procuring pumpkins.
That Michael Myers could drive a car despite having been committed to an asylum at the age of six inspired many guffaws. The first movie novelization came up with a simple but effective explanation: when Doctor Loomis drove Michael to sanity hearings over the years, Michael simply watched very closely and carefully as Doctor Loomis operated the car. Remember, even if Michael sat in the back seat and there was a screen of bulletproof glass partition, Michael could still look over the Doctor's shoulder without Loomis realizing the significance. Alternatively Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) provides a retroactive explanation to this question.
In a 2010 documentary, it was revealed that five different people dressed as The Shape: Nick Castle (throughout the movie), Tony Moran (during the unmasking by Laurie Strode), stuntman James Winburn, production designer Tommy Lee Wallace (due to his knowledge of how much force would be needed to break props during action shots in a single take), and co-writer/co-producer Debra Hill (in the external wide shot when Tommy sees The Shape for the first time). Tony stated that no one told him until he arrived on set that he would be wearing a mask; Debra explained that she happened to bring the costume with her that day and no one else was available for the shot.
In an interview, Moustapha Akkad said that John Carpenter had envisioned making the movie for around $300,000. Coincidentally, Akkad said he was producing and filming a major motion picture at the same time starring Laurence Olivier which was costing his company roughly around $300,000 a day. When Carpenter told him the fixed price of his movie, he immediately funded it.
John Carpenter told production designer Tommy Lee Wallace to go out and find a "government-looking" car to be used by Dr. Loomis and Marion in the opening scenes, which Michael Myers ultimately steals and uses throughout the film. Wallace went to the nearest car-rental agency and a 1976 Ford LTD station wagon was the only car there that looked the part. Wallace hired it for two weeks, installing a wire-mesh divider between the front and rear seats, and slapping Illinois state decals on the front doors. Carpenter loved it, and the car-rental agency had no idea of the LTD's use in the film.
Donald Pleasence did all of his scenes in only 5 days of shooting. The total duration of his scenes is just over 18 minutes.
The wealthy film producer Moustapha Akkad had admittedly little interest in this film and helped make it primarily due to the enthusiasm of John Carpenter and Irwin Yablans. However, when the film turned out to be a huge box-office smash, Akkad saw an opportunity and facilitated every 'Halloween' sequel. This does not include the two remakes, which were produced after his death in 2005.
When Laurie and Annie are driving in the car they are listening to "Don't Fear The Reaper" by Blue Öyster Cult. This is on while Michael Myers is driving behind them...
P.J. Soles was dating Dennis Quaid at the time of filming, so John Carpenter and Debra Hill wanted to cast him in the role of Bob. Unfortunately, Quaid was busy working on another project and John Michael Graham was cast in the role instead.
Debra Hill wrote most of the dialog for the female characters, while John Carpenter concentrated on Dr Loomis' speeches.
Laurie remarks that she would rather go out with unseen character "Ben Tramer". The name came from Bennett Tramer, an old college friend of director John Carpenter.
As has been noted, the killer is referred to as The Shape in the script and credits for this film. The word "shape" was used by the Salem Witch Trials judges to describe specters (or spirits) of the accused doing mischief or harming another person.
According to screenwriter/producer Debra Hill, the character of Laurie Strode was named after John Carpenter's first girlfriend.
John Carpenter was a big fan of the original Canadian slasher film Black Christmas (1974) and asked Bob Clark if he could write a sequel to the film and received his permission. The script eventually evolved into a separate project inspired by the film.
Morgan Strode's black Fleetwood (seen in the driveway when he is talking to Laurie early in the movie) belonged to John Carpenter, while the Phelps Garage truck was owned by the company that catered for the film.
The title of the movie was originally going to be called "The Babysitter Murders", but the producer, Irwin Yablans, suggested the story would be significant if it revolved around a holiday, resulting in the name "Halloween."
The film takes place primarily in the fictitious town of Haddonfield, Illinois. Haddonfield, NJ is the home town of screenwriter Debra Hill.
On the 25th anniversary disc, John Carpenter states that the original title sequence was to show a long shot of a sidewalk ending with a Halloween mask on the floor. The idea was dropped and the more iconic title sequence of the Jack O'Lantern was used.
None of the comic books ("Neutron Man," "Tarantula Man," etc.) in Tommy's collection are real. Copies of Howard the Duck comics stood-in for the fictional titles.
Features groundbreaking use of Panavision's recent panaglide camera system as operated by Raymond Stella.
The audio of the bullies telling Tommy, "He's gonna get you! The Boogieman is coming!" is sampled in the beginning of White Zombie's cover of "I'm Your Boogie Man" sung by Rob Zombie who would later go on to direct Halloween (2007) and Halloween II (2009).
None of the big studios at the time was interested in distributing the movie, so executive producer Irwin Yablans decided to distribute the film via his own company (Compass International). MCA/Universal produced and distributed the next two sequels in the early '80s.
Before Captain Kirk was chosen for the mask, other masks considered include Richard Nixon, Spock and Emmett Kelly.
John Carpenter's iconic score for the movie manifested from a female critic's negative review after screening the film: that it wasn't scary. At the time, there was no music in the film whatsoever. Carpenter then composed the fully-improvised score in 3 days.
Aside from the trick-or-treaters and pumpkins the only other indication of Fall in the movie are the painted and recycled leaves created for use in the film. They are featured in many scenes-Myer's house intro at night 1963, Haddonfield/Halloween 1978 intro/ Laurie leaves for school, "speed kills" street , Michael behind the hedge, Laurie arrives home from school, Laurie sits on corner with pumpkin, Tommy sees Michael standing in Lindsey's yard, Annie walks to laundry building, Annie walks to garage " no keys, but please", Michael carries Annie into house as leaves blow down the street, leaves blow over stolen car roof when Loomis locates it, leaves blow down street as Laurie crosses to Lindsey's house, Laurie falls as she tries to get help from neighbor's house "can't you hear me?!", leaves blow by as Michael crosses street after Laurie, Loomis walks up street looking for Michael and Brackett pulls up behind him, etc.
Was released theatrically with the short Mark Macready and the Archangel Murders (2009) in some theaters during Hallowe'en 2009.
When Dr. Loomis is fuming at Dr. Wynn about Michael Myers' escape from the sanitarium the night before, there is a glimpse of the real-life place that stood in for Smith's Grove: La Viña Hospital and Sanitarium in Altadena, CA. The institution name is prominently displayed on the welcome mat as they exit the facility.
Peter O'Toole, Mel Brooks, Steven Hill, Walter Matthau, Jerry Van Dyke, Lawrence Tierney, Kirk Douglas, John Belushi, Lloyd Bridges, Abe Vigoda, Kris Kristofferson, Sterling Hayden, David Carradine, Dennis Hopper, Charles Napier, Yul Brynner and Edward Bunker were considered for the role of Dr. Sam Loomis.
According to Don Post Jr., President of Don Post Studios, the famous California mask making company, the filmmakers originally approached his firm about custom making an original mask for use in the film. The filmmakers explained that they could not afford the numerous costs involved in creating a mask from scratch, but would offer Post points in the movie as payment for his services. Post declined their offer, as he received many such proposals from numerous unknown filmmakers all the time.
Kyle Richards, who plays Lindsey Wallace, is the sister of Kim Richards, who appeared in John Carpenter's previous film, Assault on Precinct 13 (1976). Both of these women would go on to star in The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (2010).
Although Don Post Studios turned down an offer by the filmmakers to receive points in the movie in exchange for an original mask it was the company's own 1975 Star Trek (1966) Captain Kirk mask of actor William Shatner, after alteration, that epitomized the face of Michael Myers. They would agree four years later, however, to provide the Silver Shamrock masks for Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982).
First of two films in the series where anyone refers to Michael as the boogeyman. Second is Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988).
Nancy Kyes would go on to play Linda Challis in Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982). At the time she was married to that film's director, Tommy Lee Wallace, whom she met when he served as the production designer on this film.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
The first showing of the film during it's theatrical run was on October 25th,1978 in Kansas City Missouri.
The movie that Tommy and Laurie are watching is The Thing from Another World (1951). John Carpenter went on to direct The Thing (1982).
Originally, Dr. Loomis was supposed to have a phone conversation with his wife. Donald Pleasence didn't do it, saying he thought the character shouldn't have a family or a past.
As Annie and Laurie are frantically trying to put out the joint in the car and they drive up to Sheriff Brackett and the burglarised hardware store, the sign on the light pole says Mission Street. The street exists both in South Pasadena, California (where the movie was filmed) and in Carol Stream, Illinois - the latter being the state the movie setting was taking place.
The scene where Laurie and Annie are discussing who should Laura take to the prom. Annie suggests that Laurie should go with Dick Baxter. Dick Baxter is the name of the first three victims who killed by the ghosts in The Fog (1980) Nancy Kyes who plays Annie is also in that film. Both movies are directed by John Carpenter.
In the scene where Laurie and Annie are walking home and Laurie thinks she sees Michael hiding behind a bush, you can see the smoke from John Carpenter's cigarette coming up from behind the bush.
John Carpenter purposely took a more restrained, suggestive approach with the gore in this movie. He learned his lesson with his last movie Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) when he killed off Kim Richards' character and the audience wound up hating him. Because of this he purposely took a more discreet approach to the bloodshed, ala Psycho (1960), as opposed to an over- the- top gorefest ala A Bay of Blood (1971).
Tommy Lee Wallace had worked second unit for John Carpenter on this film and was originally chosen by Carpenter and the producers to direct Halloween II (1981). His approach was more of a Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) approach, where it' s five years later and Lorie was in graduate school when Michael resurfaces. But Carpenter insisted this had to be a very next day kind of sequel, and the studio and producers were insisting on a lot more blood due to the success of Friday the 13th (1980). Because of all this Wallace decided he wasn't comfortable with the sequel, and he declined. He did direct Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) however.
Ironically, Jamie Lee Curtis admitted, "I loathe horror movies. I don't like to be surprised."
The writers' goal was to write the film like a radio play, with scares every ten minutes.
The dark lighting comes from necessity: the crew didn't have enough money for more lights.
When Dr. Loomis is talking to the doctors in the empty classroom, Dr. Loomis is sitting in seat #37.
Producer Irwin Yablans suggested the title "Halloween". John Carpenter admits that's when the story started taking shape for him.
The movie is supposed to take place in town called Haddonfield, IL, which doesn't exist. There is a Haddonfield, New Jersey, however. The movie was actually filmed in LA, and if you look closely in certain shots you can see palm trees in the background.
The Myers' house is actually an abandoned building the filmmakers found in Pasadena, California. It became a chiropractor's office.
The story is based on an experience John Carpenter had in college touring a psychiatric hospital. Carpenter met a child who stared at him "with a look of evil, and it terrified me."
John Carpenter's direction for Nick Castle in his role as Myers was minimal. For example, when Castle asked what Myers' motivation was for a particular scene, Carpenter replied that his motivation was to walk from one set marker to another. Carpenter also instructed Castle to tilt his head a couple of times as if he was observing the corpse, particularly in the scene when Myers impaled one of his victims against a wall.
John Carpenter himself dismisses the notion that Halloween is a morality play, regarding it as merely a horror movie. According to Carpenter, critics "completely missed the point there". He explains, "The one girl who is the most sexually uptight just keeps stabbing this guy with a long knife. She's the most sexually frustrated. She's the one that's killed him. Not because she's a virgin but because all that sexually repressed energy starts coming out. She uses all those phallic symbols on the guy."
Halloween wasn't the first script that John Carpenter wrote which had a mysterious killer stalking and killing specific group of people. Around 1977 Carpenter wrote the script called Meltdown which was about a group of scientists exploring a nuclear plant when one night all of the workers in it disappear. Later in the script it's revealed that they were killed by some psychopath who sneaked into the plant long time ago and who believes that he is sent by God to destroy the plant. Most of the script was just this killer stalking and killing all the scientists in various ways, using traps and weapons such as a flamethrower and a circular saw. The ending of this script was very dark, with only two people surviving and escaping from the plant before it explodes and creates a huge disaster which leaves most of the California infected with so much radiation that nothing will live there for half a million years. And just like Halloween had the song "Don't Fear the Reaper" as sort of a foreboding sign that something bad will happen, Carpenter's Meltdown script had the song "A Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procol Harum playing at one part when the bodies of the plant workers are found by the main characters and they realize the killer's plans, and also at the ending after the plant explodes. Meltdown was later re-written in mid 90's and turned into a "Die Hard (1988) in a nuclear plant" type of thriller which was going to star Dolph Lundgren in a very dark role, but eventually production of that film was canceled.
John Carpenter: [Bowling Green] There are numerous references to Carpenter's childhood hometown of Bowling Green, Kentucky. The performance of the film's musical score is credited to "The Bowling Green Philharmonic." There is no Philharmonic in Bowling Green. The "orchestra" is actually Carpenter and assorted musical friends. In one scene the subtitle depicts the location as "Smiths Grove, IL." Smiths Grove is actually a small town of about 600 people located 15 miles north of Bowling Green on I-65. There are also numerous references in Halloween to street names that are major roads in the greater Bowling Green area.
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