10 things you didn’t know about the original movie’s production
Few films are as influential as that of John Carpenter Halloween. The origins of the slasher genre can be traced further back to psychopath, corn Halloween popularized the genre and defined the tropes. The teenagers from the suburbs are slaughtered one by one by a slasher armed with a knife until only one “Final Girl” remains.
Without Halloween, there probably wouldn’t have been Freddy Where Friday 13. Yet even a famous movie like Halloween may have shocking secrets behind its creation.
ten The production budget was only $ 325,000
The 2010s were the height of Hollywood’s escalation – ever-larger budgets chasing lower box office returns. However, in 1978, Halloween blurred the lines between independent film and blockbuster. Although shot for just $ 325,000, it grossed a total of $ 70 million worldwide.
The chasm between budget and realized profit Halloween one of the highest-grossing indie films ever made, so it’s no surprise that Hollywood has been trying to get its lightning back in a bottle ever since.
9 Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee have been offered the role of Dr. Loomis
Donald Pleasance has made an illustrious career as a character actor, but the role most associated with him is Dr. Samuel Loomis, Michael Myers’ psychiatrist. He played the role five times until his death in 1995, shortly before the release of Halloween 6. Oddly enough, he wasn’t the first choice for the role.
Peter Cushing was the first choice, who the previous year had played the role of Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars–this career boost put Cushing out of the film’s budget. Christopher Lee, Cushing’s close friend and Hammer’s former horror co-star, also turned down the role. Lee then expressed his regret for this decision. It worked for the best though – it’s hard to imagine two screen presences as worthy as Cushing and Lee offering the same confusion that Pleasance brings to Loomis.
8 Michael Myers mask was made from a Captain Kirk mask
Devoid of color, characteristic or emotion, Michael Myers’ mask is the perfect face for an avatar of evil as unknowable as the Form. That said, the origins of the mask are in line with the low budget of Halloween. The design of the mask was the work of production designer Tommy Lee Wallace, a frequent collaborator of Carpenter who went on to direct Halloween III.
Wallace bought a Captain Kirk mask from a costume store on Hollywood Boulevard; from there he widened the eye holes, replaced the hair on the mask, and spray painted the latex mold of the mask white. The macabre result hid the origin of the mask.
7 The film was first titled “The Babysitter Murders”
Halloween perfectly captures the spooky and festive atmosphere of the eponymous party. It’s this flavor that sets the film apart from many subsequent slasher films, including several of its own sequels. However, the early drafts of John Carpenter and Debra Hill lacked this element, with the story bearing the more brutal title of “The Babysitter Murders”.
Producer Irwin Yablans suggested shooting the film on Halloween night, and Carpenter, feeling the idea brought a unique flavor to the “haunted house” feel he wanted for the film, agreed. The rest is history.
6 Debra Hill was from Haddonfield
Although Carpenter is, as the director of the film, the artist most often associated with Halloween, the success of the film cannot be regarded as its only accomplishment. One of the other most prominent behind-the-scenes voices was Carpenter-era producer, co-writer and partner Debra Hill.
One of Hill’s biggest brands on the film is Haddonfield herself, named after her birthplace of Haddonfield, New Jersey. This Halloween‘s Haddonfield is in Illinois instead only helps the “Anytown, USA” feel of the film setting.
5 The movie was set in Illinois but was shot in California
Haddonfield being an invention of the script, that wasn’t the only thing stopping the team from filming on location. Although set in Illinois, the film was primarily shot in the suburbs of Pasadena, California. With the meager budget and the production being based in Hollywood, the team couldn’t really afford to find an authentic Midwestern location.
It didn’t matter, but it did mean the crew had to go the extra mile to hide palm trees and collect fallen autumn leaves for use on screen.
4 John Carpenter composed the score in three days
Although best known as a director, John Carpenter is also a capable composer – most of his films are self-branded, and Halloween was no exception. After a test screening of the cut film without music, an executive told Carpenter that the film was not scary. In three days, Carpenter wrote a piano score for the film – the short time span meant he couldn’t even compose on the footage from the film.
It paid off; the music adds an untold effect to the atmosphere of the film and plays well even separate from the pictures. One of the most iconic parts of the movie is the open, slow zoom on a pumpkin lantern as the “Halloween Theme” plays.
3 The film was inspired by Black Christmas
Four years ago Halloween released, there was Black christmas, another film set on vacation about a faceless killer preying on young women. While working on a project with Black christmas director Bob Clark, Carpenter asked him if he was planning on making a sequel – Clark said no. When Carpenter asked what a sequel would look like, Clark said the killer would escape a mental institution on Halloween night and start killing again. Clark had this to say in a 2005 interview:
“The truth is that John did not copy Black christmas. He wrote a screenplay, directed the screenplay, did the casting. Halloween is his horror film … he liked Black christmas and may have been influenced by it, but John Carpenter by no means copied the idea. “
2 Debra Hill wrote most of the dialogue for Laurie and her friends
Another reason Halloween succeeds where many of its imitators fail is that the film makes the viewer care about the doomed teens. Laurie Strode is the best-played final girl in the horror genre, and her interactions with her friends before the murder began has a sympathetic authenticity.
Much of the dialogue between Laurie and her friends, Annie and Linda, was written by Debra Hill, who had herself worked as a babysitter and had first-hand experience as a teenager that Carpenter clearly lacked.
1 Michael Myers was inspired by Carpenter’s visit to a psychiatric ward
Psychiatry was not as advanced in the 1970s as it is today, and serial killers were not as much of a national pastime. Thereby, Halloween dispels any intricate motive for Michael Myers, characterizing him instead as an unknowable and unsolvable force of evil. In college, Carpenter had visited a psychiatric ward and made eye contact with a patient, a young boy with a disturbing look.
Clearly this moment was the genesis of young Michael’s blank face after killing his sister, and Loomis’ description of the boy with “devil’s eyes”.
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