John Carpenter‘s Halloween is highly regarded as one of the most iconic horror movies of all time. The film follows the story of Michael Myers, a masked serial killer who terrorizes the small town of Haddonfield on Halloween night. With its terrifying score, suspenseful plot, and unforgettable villain, Halloween is credited with kickstarting the slasher genre and inspiring countless imitators. Its success paved the way for other horror classics like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer.
Over the years, Halloween has become a fully-fledged franchise with countless sequels, reboots and revamps. However, none have captured the same tone as John Carpenter’s original hit movie. So, here are 8 things you probably didn’t know about Halloween.
1. John Carpenter Was Paid a Small Fee to Direct Halloween
After directing a string of short films throughout the 1960s, John Carpenter started to make waves with his first two feature films – Dark Star and Assault on Precinct 13. These movies put him on the map as a director to watch out for. To that, he landed a deal to write, direct, and compose Halloween. However, for such a substantial amount of work, Carpenter was only paid $10,000. In today’s financial climate, that would equate to $40,000.
2. The Script for Halloween Was Written in a Matter of Weeks
At the time of making Halloween, John Carpenter was in a relationship with renowned producer, Debra Hill. The two worked together on the script for Halloween, and over the years they have both stated that it was a fast and efficient process. While the exact time frame seems to be muddy in their minds, Hill has stated that it took around 10 days to write. Whereas Carpenter has said it was more like three weeks. Either way, for such a polished movie, that is an impressive amount of time to craft such a tight script. Furthermore, the film was shot under a vigorous schedule across 20 days.
3. Halloween Was Filmed in Spring Not Fall
Although the movie is set on Halloween night, the filming actually took place in May. This meant that the roads had to be filled with leaves to represent fall. Furthermore, the film takes place in a fictional Illinois town called Haddonfield. However, filming actually took place in various locations around California, such as Sierra Madre and Alhambra.
4. There is an Extended Version of John Carpenter’s Halloween Exclusive to TV
After its theatrical release in 1978, it would be a further three years before Halloween would grace television screens. It was aired on NBC in October 1981. However, the movie was given a two-hour slot on the schedule. Seeing as the theatrical version of the movie is only 91 minutes long, additional scenes had to be filmed so that NBC could fill the slot and allow for more commercials. Many of these scenes feel like unnecessary filler, however one scene in particular adds a layer of depth to the movie. In the scene, a younger Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) informs a board that Michael Myers should remain locked up for life. After this, he visits a young Michael in a mental asylum in an eerie scene that builds tension masterfully.
5. The Origins Behind Michael Myers’ Mask
Although the mask of Michael Myers has become iconic, it was originally going to be completely different. In the chilling opening scene of Halloween, a young Michael Myers murders his older sister while wearing a clown mask. To that, the plan was to have Michael don a clown mask once again when he embarks on his adult killing spree after escaping the asylum. However, the haunting pale white mask that horror fans have come to know and love is the result of some improvisation. To save money, Carpenter opted to use a Captain Kirk mask from a costume shop for $1.98. To make the mask creepier, the eye holes were widened, the wig was dyed and trimmed, and the face was painted white.
6. John Carpenter’s Halloween Originally Had a Different Title
Although Halloween is seen as John Carpenter’s concept, it was actually the brainchild of iconic film producer, Irwin Yablans. After seeing Carpenter’s action thriller, Assault on Precinct 13, Yablans approached him with an idea. The idea was to make a film titled “The Babysitter Murders”. However, Yablans only had a title and a simple concept of a crazed killer who stalks and kills babysitters. Carpenter agreed to take on the project under the conditions that he writes, scores and directs the film and is granted full creative control. Carpenter’s needs were met and he was also permitted to have his name above the movie. This means that movie would have originally been called “John Carpenter’s The Babysitter Murders”. However, during the writing process, Yablans decided that the film should be set on the night of Halloween, thus becoming “John Carpenter’s Halloween”.
7. Michael Myers Was Portrayed by Two People
Nick Castle is a renowned writer and director and longtime friend and collaborator of John Carpenter. His notable achievements include penning the script for Escape from New York and directing the 1984 movie, The Last Starfighter. However, his first major gig in Hollywood was portraying Michael Myers in Halloween. Although Castle played the character throughout the majority of the film, the scene where Michael is briefly unmasked was portrayed by Tony Moran.
8. Jamie Lee Curtis Wasn’t John Carpenter’s First Choice for Laurie Strode
Halloween was not only a breakout movie for John Carpenter, it also catapulted its lead star to superstardom. After the success of the movie, Jamie Lee Curtis became one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. To this day, she remains a force in the industry, and finally won an Oscar for her prowess in 2023. However, Curtis was not John Carpenter’s first choice to play Laurie Strode. Originally, Carpenter had Anne Lockhart in mind for the role but her schedule was too busy. So, the role went to Curtis. When Carpenter learned that Curtis was the daughter of Psycho actress Janet Leigh, the casting choice turned out to be a blessing that would help the publicity of the movie. Curtis went on to be hailed the greatest “Scream Queen”, arguably dethroning her mother.
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