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.
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 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).
The Halloween theme is written in the rare 5/4 time signature. John Carpenter learned this rhythm from his father.
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.
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 are so preoccupied with getting laid that they don't notice that there is a killer at large. On the other hand, Laurie Strode spends a lot of time on her own and is therefore more alert.
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.
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.
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. The fact that she was Janet Leigh's daughter probably didn't hurt. According to Hill, Curtis wasn't Carpenter's first choice. She says he wanted the daughter of the person on Lassie.
John Carpenter's intent with the character of Michael Myers was that the audience should never be able to relate to him.
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."
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.
Half of the $300,000 budget was spent on the Panavision cameras so the film would have a 2.35:1 scope. Donald Pleasence was paid $20,000 for five days work.
John Carpenter wrote the role of Lynda van der Klok for P.J. Soles after seeing her performance in Brian De Palma's Carrie (1976).
John Carpenter approached Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee to play the role of Dr. Sam Loomis (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.
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.
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.
Prior to the movie, a book was written by Curtis Richards, and reveals more of the story behind Michael Myers' rage, thoughts and motives. However, the book is very rare.
John Carpenter was quite intimidated by Donald Pleasence, of whom he was a huge 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.
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 (1977).
Debra Hill wrote most of the dialog for the female characters, while John Carpenter concentrated on Dr. Loomis' speeches.
P.J. Soles went to a screening of the movie after it was released, sitting in the fourth 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 shouted out "Hell yes I do!", unaware she was right behind him. Dennis Quaid, who Soles was dating at the time, asked her if she wanted him to confront the man, but she declined, too amused from the experience. Quaid was originally supposed to play Lynda's boyfriend, Bob Simms, but scheduling conflicts prevented this.
Inside Laurie Strode'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.
Jamie Lee Curtis' first feature film. She was paid a reported $8,000 for her efforts.
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 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.
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.
The dark lighting comes from necessity: the crew didn't have enough money for more lights.
The character 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.
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 six-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.
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.
Donald Pleasence did all of his scenes in only five days of shooting. The total duration of his scenes is just over 18 minutes.
As the film was made in spring, the crew had huge difficulty in procuring pumpkins.
Was selected in 2006 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
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.
Jamie Lee Curtis has played Laurie Strode in films released in five different decades from the 1970s to the 2010s: This film, Halloween II (1981), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998), Halloween: Resurrection (2002) and Halloween (2018).
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.
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 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) provides a retroactive explanation to this question.
Donald Pleasence confessed to John Carpenter that the main reason why he took the role of Dr. Sam Loomis was because his daughter Lucy (who was a musician) had loved Carpenter's musical score for his previous movie Assault on Precinct 13 (1976).
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).
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.
Jamie Lee Curtis admits she made up the "Just the two of us" song she sang to herself at the movie's beginning when she was walking home from school.
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.
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.
Ironically, Jamie Lee Curtis admitted, "I loathe horror movies. I don't like to be surprised."
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 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.
The movie that Tommy and Laurie are watching is The Thing from Another World (1951). John Carpenter went on to direct The Thing (1982).
According to screenwriter/producer Debra Hill, the character Laurie Strode was named after John Carpenter's first girlfriend.
The writers' goal was to write the film like a radio play, with scares every ten minutes.
John Carpenter was a huge 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.
When Laurie Strode and Annie Brackett 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...
To ensure Michael Myers would break the window of the station wagon as Dr. Loomis approaches the insane asylum, a wrench was adhered to his forearm and hand. It was then painted flesh colored to hide from the camera.
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.
The film takes place primarily in the fictitious town of Haddonfield, Illinois. Haddonfield, New Jersey is the hometown of screenwriter Debra Hill.
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.
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 Simms. Unfortunately, Quaid was busy working on another project and John Michael Graham was cast in the role instead.
Laurie Strode 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.
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).
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.
When Terry Gross interviewed Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel live in front of an audience for a fundraiser for radio station WBEZ in Chicago in 1996, Terry asked them about the scariest movie they have seen. Roger mentioned how the first "Halloween" movie was extremely scary and then recounted how when Gene saw it at a local movie theater, he was so scared, he took a cab home, even though he only lived two blocks from the movie theater. Gene then recounted how when he got home, he went to the shower and pulled the curtain back to see if anyone was in there.
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.
At 3 minutes and 54 seconds into the film, the lights go off upstairs where Michael's sister and her boyfriend are. The boyfriend is heard saying goodnight to her from the stairs at the 5 minute mark, leaving only 1 minute and 6 seconds for them to have slept together.
Features groundbreaking use of Panavision's recent panaglide camera system as operated by Raymond Stella.
Before shooting the film, John Carpenter cinematographer Dean Cundey viewed Chinatown (1974). They were so impressed by the movie's cinematography that they decided to duplicate the color palette (burnt orange for the day shots coupled with blue back-lighting for the night shots) and use of lighting for the fictitious town of Haddonfield and the over-all look of the film.
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, California. The institution name is prominently displayed on the welcome mat as they exit the facility.
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.
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."
The Myers house is actually an abandoned building the filmmakers found in South Pasadena, California. It became a chiropractor's office.
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 Laurie 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. However, he did direct Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982).
Both Carpenter and Hill felt that Loomis should be played by a "classy" British actor with star power. Both Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee were approached but both declined due to the low salary of 25K. Several other high profile actors, both British and American, declined as well. According to Carpenter, in a phone conversation with Debra Hill, Cushing's agent told her that since the success of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) any film that included Cushing should feature him as the star, even though Cushing's career had been in steady decline for years and he was only a featured character in Star Wars. Donald Pleasance nearly declined as well but was talked into taking the role by his daughter, who was a strident fan of Carpenter's work since seeing "Assault on Precinct 13" (1976).
Before Captain Kirk was chosen for the mask, other masks considered include Richard Nixon, Spock and Emmett Kelly.
John Carpenter told broadcaster Fox 5 DC during promotion for Halloween (2018) that the opening shot of the original film had only five takes. The eye holes of the mask were added in post-production by MGM's optical department.
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).
In an interview, Tony Moran claimed that the reason why Michael Myers was played by more than one actor, was because they could only use those who were available on each day of filming. He also added that Michael Myers was actually played by six actors in total (including himself, Nick Castle and John Carpenter).
The film takes place on October 31, 1963 and from October 30 to October 31, 1978. They also spell it Oktober instead of October
Robert Englund of the A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) film series revealed in an interview that John Carpenter had him throw bags of dead leaves on set for one day.
None of the big studios at the time were 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 1980s.
The first showing of the film during its theatrical run was on October 25, 1978 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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.
In the scene where Laurie and Annie smoke a joint on the way to their destination, "Don't Fear the Reaper" by Blue Öyster Cult can be heard on Annie's car radio. A cover version of the song plays in Scream (1996), a horror film that features teens watching and referencing this film as well as other horror classics.
'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 rewritten in the mid-1990s 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 cancelled.
Throughout the film, the 1951 film The Thing from Another World (1951) plays on the TV. "Halloween" director John Carpenter would go on to direct an adaptation of this film in 1982 called The Thing (1982). Coincidentally, Carpenter was approached to direct "The Thing" after the studio was unhappy with the concept provided by Tobe Hooper, director of 1974's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), which also launched a series of Horror/Slasher films with an iconic villain (Leatherface).
Early in the film when Dr. Loomis and Nurse Chambers are driving in a car together, there is a close-up of the nurse's Parliment cigarettes with a matchbook on top that reads 'Rabbit in Red Lounge'. In the Rob Zombie remake Deborah Myers, mother of Michael, works at a strip club named the Rabbit in Red Lounge.
The initial budget of $300,000 was increased to $325,000. The added $25,000 was Donald Pleasence's salary for only five days of shooting.
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. However, they would agree four years later to provide the Silver Shamrock masks for Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982).
Nick Castle admitted that the only reason he accepted the opportunity was for a chance to witness what goes into directing a film. "My only reason for being on the set was to kind of demystify the directing experience for me, because [director] John [Carpenter] was a pal, they were shooting the majority of this near my house, really, and he said, 'Well, why don't you just be the guy walking around in the mask and you'll be here the whole 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).
The first of two films in the series where anyone refers to Michael Myers as the boogeyman. The second is Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988).
Producer Irwin Yablans suggested the title "Halloween". John Carpenter admits that's when the story started taking shape for him.
The name of the character Sheriff Leigh Brackett, played by Charles Cyphers, is a direct reference to the screenwriter of Rio Bravo (1959), Leigh Brackett. One of John Carpenter's favorite movies. He used the name in Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) and Someone's Watching Me! (1978).
Though the film credits The Bowling Green Philharmonic Orchestra for performing the soundtrack, in reality most of the score was simply performed by director John Carpenter using a piano he had at his home, with Dan Wyman later making some additions to Carpenter's music with a primitive synthesizer.
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.
To achieve the shot of Michael Myers strangling the dog, the trainer on set held the dog in his arms and dropped him naturally. This was shot in slow motion to make it look as if the dog had been killed.
Carpenter showed Halloween to an executive before it was finished. He showed the movie without the music. The executive didn't find it to be scary at all. After the film was released, and she saw it, she changed her mind, an indication of how much Carpenter's score adds to the film's atmosphere.
According to John Carpenter, Donald Pleasence asked him how the director wanted him to react when he looked down and saw Myers' body had disappeared. The actor said there were two ways he could react, either shocked or as if he expected Myers to be gone. Carpenter had him play it both ways and used the one he felt worked better.
John Carpenter has mentioned in the past that he based Michael Myers on Yul Brynners robotic assassin character from Westworld (1973), written and directed by best-selling author Michael Crichton. Interestingly, Carpenter would work with the late author's now-fourth ex-wife, actress Anne Marie Martin, in Halloween II (1981). She is uncredited as Nurse Karen's friend, Darcy Essmont.
Was released theatrically with the short Mark Macready and the Archangel Murders (2009) in some theaters during Halloween 2009.
In July 2018 at the San Diego Comic Con, during a panel discussion with Jamie Lee Curtis, a fan named Joseph Scott told her that he was a victim of a similar home invasion himself. He said "I was scared out of my mind and out of nowhere this thought came inside of me, 'What would Jamie Lee Curtis do?'" and later added "I'm a victor today instead of a victim, just like those people that you were talking about". Yvette Nicole Brown, who hosted the panel, asked him to approach the stage. Curtis, who was moved to tears by Scott's story, stood up and went down the stage where she greeted him with a hug.
Lynda's line "Cute, Bob, real cute," is a reference to the Donny and Marie Osmond television series which was popular at this time (1976-1979). It was a catch-phrase repeated throughout that television variety show in the introductory conversations between Donny and Marie (obviously with "Donny" or "Marie" instead of "Bob".) The contemporary catchphrase has been largely forgotten and the line makes sense on its own and so the reference is generally unacknowledged.
Nancy Kyes (nee' Loomis) 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.
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 - the Myers 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.
Seven different people portrayed Michael Myers in this film: Debra Hill played his hands, reaching for various objects in the prologue; Will Sandin played 6-year-old Michael unmasked immediately after killing his sister; Nick Castle played 21-year-old Michael for the bulk of the film; Tommy Lee Wallace played Michael speeding the station wagon past the trio of girls and breaking into the closet to attack Laurie Strode; a key grip played Michael skulking behind a hedge; Tony Moran played the 21-year-old Michael unmasked by Laurie Strode near the film's ending; and James Winburn was the stuntman who played Michael getting shot by Dr. Sam Loomis and falling over the balcony at the film's ending.
During the walking through Haddonfield scene, cover images from the teen romance novels Tender Longings by Barbara Lynn and One Love Forever by Christine King can be seen in Lynda's bag.
Originally, the screenplay had a phone conversation between Dr. Loomis and his wife. It was Donald Pleasence's idea to cut this dialogue out of the film. He didn't want his character to have a family or even a past. Carpenter was afraid to disagree wit him at the time, so the moment was cut.
Michael Myers tilting his head back and forth to admire his handiwork was Nick Castle's idea on set to indicate the character's deranged mental state.
John Carpenter admits he was copying Goblin's theme for Suspiria, as well Michael Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" theme for the Exorcist; when he came up with his brilliant 5/4 reworking of those themes with the now famous theme for Halloween. This is a very rare instance where the director co-wrote the screenplay; wrote the music for the film and directed the film as well! This had never happened with a horror film before; or since! (It has happened with other mainstream dramas though).
The automobile which Michael Myers stole at the beginning which he drives through the movie is a 1978 Ford LTD wagon.
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 pro wrestler Eddie Gilbert competed for the Japanese hardcore wrestling promotion Wrestling International New Generation (W*ING) in 1993 under a mask using the name/gimmick Michael Myers. His brother Doug Gilbert was there as Freddy Krueger (from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)), a gimmick first used in Memphis by their father, Tommy Gilbert.
The opening sequence of the film inspired by the opening sequence of Orson Welles' Touch of Evil, the single shot that moves around the streets of a small, Mexican border town. Carpenter also mentions the style of the film was inspired by Hitchcock. Carpenter notes the style was "driven by simplicity", something that would completely lost on Rob Zombie 29 years later.
Jamie Lee Curtis didn't see herself as the repressed virgin, and was surprised when she found out which of the three girls she would be playing. She notes she would have probably been better suited as the smart aleck of the group.
The story Loomis tells about meeting and treating Michael Myers was something Carpenter experienced while attending Western Kentucky University. A class visited a mental institution. Carpenter saw a boy there that matches precisely how Loomis describes Myers, devil's eyes and all.
Carpenter wanted to set Laurie Strode up as a lonely character. He mentions the movie was criticized by critics who felt the movie was saying Laurie's friends who have boyfriends deserved their ultimate fates and Laurie, a virgin, survived because of this. Carpenter notes this is absolutely true, that Laurie's friends are killed off because they're too busy to notice what is going on around them. Hill also mentions there was never a conscious effort to make the virgin of the group be the sole survivor. She believes it was critics trying to place some sense of morality on the film that made this such an important aspect to the film, one that several horror movies after would take on, as well.
Curtis mentions the way the moment where she stabs Myers with the knitting needle then drops the knife looks stupid, since it was shot wide. She explains if it were shot closer, you would be able to see the revulsion on her face from holding the knife. She can't explain why Laurie throws the knife away the second time.
Hill and Carpenter saw very little of the money Halloween made, at the time the most successful independent film of all time. According to Carpenter, a sequel was going to happen whether they wanted it or not. Hill and Carpenter worked on it out of a business necessity, to get the money that was essentially owed to them from the first film.
While filming, there was a number given to Curtis as to Laurie's "terror level" during any given scene, indicating to the actress where her character is mentally, since Halloween was shot out of order. She also mentions Carpenter allowed her to make the character vulnerable by explaining to her it wasn't a character weakness but a way to allow the audience in to where Laurie was mentally.
The idea for Halloween came about when producer Irwin Yablans came to Carpenter wanting to make a $300,000 film called The Babysitter Murders. He asked Carpenter if it could be done. Carpenter said it could if he was given creative control. It was also Yablans' idea to have to the movie be set on Halloween and name it after the holiday, as well. Hill notes the teenagers in Halloween were written to reflect the teenagers of the time, the way they experiment and interact with one another, particularly during Halloween. She recognizes this is one of the main reasons why the film did so well financially.
Carpenter notes the pace of Halloween, how it moves with a confident, steady progression and nothing is rushed. He notes Pauline Kael said in her review of Halloween that he has no sense of timing, but that the pace in Halloween is very deliberate to build the tension of when this killer is going to strike next. "All horror is basically a question of when is it going to happen?"
The film's original poster features an image of a hand wielding a butcher knife that evolves into a Jack-O-Lantern. Many however never noticed for years afterward that the hand also features a hidden image of a man's screaming face.
Famed film critic Pauline Kael; slammed Halloween in 1978; but her signs of admiration for Carpenter's style shine through in her critique: She says Carpenter has an excellent sense of "menace"; but his script is also shamefully amatuerish: "John Carpenter, who made the low-budget scare picture Halloween, has a visual sense of menace. He quickly sets up an atmosphere of fear, and his blue night tones have a fine, chilling ambience-the style is reminiscent of the Halloween episode in Minnelli's Meet Me in St. Louis. But Carpenter isn't very gifted with actors, and he doesn't seem to have any feeling at all for motivation or for plot logic." She goes to slam the movie for having so many tracking shots; a technique Halloween was pioneering; and which was picked up by many movies later like Friday the 13th and Scream; but Kael still calls it excessive in this movie: "The film is largely just a matter of the camera tracking subjectively from the mad killer's point of view, leading you to expect something awful to happen. But the camera also tracks subjectively when he isn't around at all; in fact, there's so much subjective tracking you begin to think everybody in the movie has his own camera." Kael goes on to say that even though many critics proclaimed this is an instant classic; they are all wrong: "A lot of people seem to be convinced that Halloween is something special-a classic. Maybe when a horror film is stripped of everything but dumb scariness-when it isn't ashamed to revive the stalest device of the genre (the escaped lunatic)-it satisfies part of the audience in a more basic, childish way than sophisticated horror pictures do." Needless to say Kael is the exception to the rule; as most critics now call Halloween one of the best horror movies ever made. Indeed; both Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert disagreed with Kael in 1978; both saying it was one of the best horror movies ever made.
Roger Ebert was one of the few critics who right after it's release; gave Halloween a glowing recommendation to his readers. This was in spite of much of the critical community, like Pauline Kael, that dismissed it as an over-violent potboiler. (Critics tend to hate horror movies no matter how well they're made anyway). But Roger Ebert's recommendation is part of what turned the film's fortunes around and turned it into a massive hit. (It's still one of the most successful independent films ever made). Siskel and Ebert both praised the film and called it terrifying. Ebert gave it ****; comparing the film to Psycho; high praise indeed since Psycho was considered the scariest movie ever made at that point: ""I enjoy playing the audience like a piano." (Alfred Hitchcock) So does John Carpenter. "Halloween" is an absolutely merciless thriller, a movie so violent and scary that, yes, I would compare it to "Psycho" (1960)." Ebert goes on to say Halloween is a "visceral" experience:" We see movies for a lot of reasons. Sometimes we want to be amused. Sometimes we want to escape. Sometimes we want to laugh, or cry, or see sunsets. And sometimes we want to be scared. I'd like to be clear about this. If you don't want to have a really terrifying experience, don't see "Halloween."'
Rich Corliss, who was the film critic of the late New Times magazine, offers an even better justification of the violence in Halloween. Corliss says that horror films such as Halloween are ferociously Old Testament; they punish "both the heroine-exhibitionist and the viewer-voyeur." In other words, the girls in Halloween are punished for fooling around with sex, and we the viewers are "punished" (with thrills) for watching the girls.
Gene Siskel; the famed film critic of the Chicago Tribune in the 1970s and 1980s; who was one half of the Siskel and Ebert duo; the most famous film critic team ever to date; gave Halloween a very positive review. This is amazing since Siskel hated most horror movies; he slammed Scream, Jaws, Poltergeist, Aliens and Silence of the Lambs; all for being too violent and disturbing. Siskel had a bit of a reputation of being a prude; and when they were reviewing Ferris Bueller's Day Off in 1986 Ebert said SIskel "acts like he's a member of the parent's advisory committee." But Siskel went against his normal prudish ways when he was reviewing the John Carpenter thriller. He loved Halloween. There was a now famous Sneak Previews episode that Siskel and Ebert put together focusing on the slasher movie; and in the special both critics heaped praise on Halloween. Siskel said "It's a beautifully made thriller---more shocking than bloody---that will have you screaming with regularity. Halloween was directed by John Carpenter, 30, a natural filmmaker and a name worth remembering.:" Siskel went on heap praise on Halloween in his Tribune collum: "Halloween works because director Carpenter knows how to shock while making us smile. he repeatedly sets up anticipation of a shock and delays the shock for varying lengths of time. The tension is considerable. More than once during the movie I looked around just to make sure that no one weird was sitting behind me. It's that kind of movie. Halloween plays on ancient fears of children being left alone, of babysitters being forced to turn to children as allies in moments of stress, of other people doubting what you are certain you saw in the shadows of the night. Director Carpenter wisely keeps his killer hidden from direct sight. The killer is wearing hospital bandages over his face; he is photographed mostly in shadows. It's one thing to make an effective thriller out of night scenes, but it's a considerably more difficult achievement to scare the daylights out of us with daylight action. To my mind, the best sequence in Halloween is a dodge-'em game the killer plays behind some shrubbery as the school girls walk home in the afternoon. To state the obvious, Halloween is not a film for youngsters. It is properly R-rated for its ever-present threat of violence." This glowing review is part of what Halloween such a box office sensation. People that if a prude film critic could love a horror film like Halloween; it must be phenomenal. And indeed Halloween became both a box office hit and a critical classic after that.
Most of the regular cast returned for the sequels except for PJ Soles. Jamie Lee Curtis, Charles Cyphers, Nancy Kyer, Donald Pleasance, Nick Castle and Nancy Stephens all came back for the sequels.
Rob Zombie has said the experience of filming 2007s Halloween and it's sequel were both a "miserable experience." He said studio interference and pressure made him feel terrorized and depressed; like they were only concerned about protecting their franchise and gave him no credit at all. The films were both big moneymakers (the 2007 film made $80 million off a 15 million budget!). And while fans of the franchise hated them some horror enthusiasts gave Zombie props for trying something shocking and different with the movies, and for pushing the franchise forward.
This film has had multiple reboots, and a record 4 continuities (5 if you count the planned upcoming tv series) in forty years! (That's pretty amazing if you compare it to Star Wars or Alien, franchises which started at about the same time, in the late 1970s, all had one continuity!) Characters Laurie Strode, Michael Myers, Tommy Doyle, Lindsay Wallace, Jamie Lloyd, Lynda Van Der Klok, Annie and Leigh Brackett and Sam Loomis have all been killed, rebooted, recast, retconned, erased and brought back again more than any other franchise in film history! The result is head spinning, and even series creators like John Carpenter admit it's pretty impossible to keep up with all this stuff; particularly if you are trying to keep track of the series as a whole! In keeping with this trend, amazingly, after all this casting and recasting and this musical chairs approach to the main characters, after all this, Jamie Lee Curtis, Nick Castle and Kylie Richards, who played Laurie, Michael and Lindsay in the original 1978 film respectively, and who have all been killed off or recast atleast twice in this franchise, will all be coming back in 2020's next Halloween sequel; Halloween Kills!
When Dr. Loomis is talking to the doctors in the empty classroom, Dr. Loomis is sitting in seat #37.
As seen during Dr. Loomis's telephone call in the phone booth, the license plate number to his car is B4J 207.
Laurie's father is played by Peter Griffith. He is also the father of a famous actress, Melanie Griffith, and the ex-husband of another Hitchcock veteran, Tippi Hedren.
The hand that pulls the kitchen drawer open and grabs the knife as well as grab the clown mask off the floor is, in actuality, Debra Hill's hand.
The score Carpenter came up with for Halloween was inspired by and reminds him of the score from Dario Argento's Suspiria and Tubular Bells from The Exorcist. Hill notes Carpenter had the music in his head before filming began. He would play the theme for her on the piano as they were working on the screenplay.
On TV Tropes, Dr. Loomis' "what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply...evil" speech is the page quote for Complete Monster.
Hill mentions when NBC ran Halloween it edited out the shot of Nancy Loomis' ass as she's stuck in the window.
There are 7 characters with names starting with the letter L: Laurie, Loomis, Lynda, Lindsey, Leigh, Lonnie and Lester.
Nurse Chambers was smoking Parliament cigarettes during the drive with Dr. Loomis to retrieve Michael Myers on the day before Halloween.
John Carpenter was a bit nervous when he met Donald Pleasence for the first time, seeing as the director had been able to secure an actor of name value for the low budget film.
"Halloween" was John Carpenter's most ambitious film at this stage of his directing career.
We meet Laurie's father in Part 1, at the beginning. We never meet her mother in part 1, but she is referred to; and we she flashbacks of her in part 2. It's interesting that neither one visits her in the hospital in part 2; and this is after the news media has reported it that she was attacked! The screen writers seem to totally forget the characters exist at all in part 2. (Except in Laurie's brief flashback scene with the mother).
Just like Halloween influenced Friday the 13th; in that the latter movie ripped off the first movie's basic plot line; Friday the 13th influenced Halloween as well. When Friday the 13th came out and was so gory; like a super blood American Giallo movie; and was also so successful, giving Halloween a run for the money; Carpenter felt pressured to add more gore to Halloween 2; (as well as later Halloween sequels); to keep up with it's main competitor Friday the 13th.
Many of the characters were named after other characters from other movies, prominent Hollywood luminaries and legends and figures from folklore. Sam Loomis was named after Marion Crane's boyfriend in Psycho. Marion Chambers was named after Marion Crane from Psycho, and Al Chambers, the sheriff in Psycho. And Leigh Brackett was named after a prominent female screenwriter who worked on the Star Wars franchise with George Lucas, among other things; (she wrote the first draft of Empire Strikes Back and also wrote John Wayne's Rio Bravo.) She was at the time nicknamed "The Queen of Sci-fi" by the Hollywood community and John Carpenter was a big fan of hers. Lindsay Wallace was named after Tommy Lee Wallace, who was John Carpenter's right hand man in Halloween, one of the production designers, and he would go on to direct Halloween 3. Jamie Lloyd is a slight alteration of Jamie Lee Curtis. Also Lloyd is Doyle phonetically spelled backwards, and Tommy Dole is another major character in the series. The Shape is a folkloric and Biblical reference. (It's another name for the Devil, or the Boogey Man as Laurie and Tommy keep calling him). Other literary references and pop cultural references are peppered throughout the script like this. Halloween, like Hitchcock before it, and Scream after it, was very meta, very in-jokey, and you can see that reflected in all the characters.
John Carpenter says he is deeply ashamed with the Laurie and Michael being siblings reveal, but it came about as NBC was planning to show the original in one of its two hour time blocks in 1981, and Carpenter reshoot various scenes and sequences for both one and two to pad the movies to make them suitable for network viewing: and that was one of the sequences Carpenter randomly made up for this. He said he deeply regrets the plot twist.
John Carpenter's first choice to play Dr. Loomis was Peter Cushing. Cushing's agent declined the role on his behalf citing the low pay and the absence of top billing. It remains unclear if Cushing even read the script.
According to Carpenter, Halloween was originally panned by most critics, who said the movie "wasn't frightening", "stupid", "too low-budget", and a "dumb idea". Producer Debra Hill had set him clippings of these reviews, which made Carpenter extremely mad. A review in the Village Voice compared Halloween to Psycho, Carpenter to Alfred Hitchcock, and suddenly the positive reviews began to change. Critics re-reviewed the film, and the film's box office began to climb.
Originally Carpenter wanted Halloween to open with a dolly shot down one of the streets in Haddonfield. The shot would have come upon a mask in a gutter, but Carpenter felt the slow push in on the glowing pumpkin would have set a better mood for the story that was about to unfold.
Debra Hill is originally from Haddonfield, New Jersey. Haddonfield, Illinois, in the Halloween movies was named after her hometown. According to her, rumors about Halloween being based on a true story that happened in her hometown started.
Shot in Pasadena, Carpenter and his crew made every effort to keep palm trees out of the shot, since the movie takes place in Illinois. They don't always succeed. You can see palm trees in the background of some shots.
The Phelps Garage truck Dr. Loomis discovers also served as the craft services truck on set when not being used in the film.
Carpenter reminisces about the first movie he saw in the theater, It Came From Outer Space in 3-D. He remembers the opening of the film when the meteor flies at the audience and explodes. "It suddenly made me feel completely alive and terrified, but there was nothing to be terrified of. I was in a movie theater." He realized then that was what he wanted to do, to achieve that same reaction from other audience members.
The idea of creative control comes up. Hill, after being announced yet again, mentions Carpenter getting creative control on Halloween was a big deal for him, especially at a young age. She notes he gets upset on films where he doesn't have it and has actually walked away from projects because he couldn't get it. Carpenter notes creative control has been a struggle with every director he's ever talked to but that it's absolutely worth the struggle to achieve it for the sake of art.
According to Jamie Lee Curtis, the Myers' house was actually as decrepit as it is for most of the movie. The opening sequence was the last thing shot, and the entire crew spent an entire night washing it, furnishing it, and making it appear to be in use. She also mentions, since there weren't enough lights on set, the crew were working behind the scenes as the shot was being taken, moving lights from one room to another as the camera passed them.
While filming the opening sequence, they realized the running time for the film would be too short. Debra Hill, Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Loomis who plays Annie, and a cameraman went out in a car and shot a sequence of dialogue to pad the running time. The scene with the girls talking about Annie's dad was improvised and directed by Hill.
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, Illinois". 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.