Movie Trivia: 25 Essential Facts About Halloween
The HALLOWEEN movies have been a horror phenomenon for over 40 years. The original 1978 movie, directed and co-written by John Carpenter, was not merely a smash success. It helped kick off the slasher movie subgenre, in which terrified teens are picked off by masked killers. The blank-masked Michael Myers will always be the granddaddy of horror villains. Thanks to his instantly-iconic status, HALLOWEEN led to six direct sequels, an offshoot movie, an all-out remake (with a sequel), and a 2018 revival.
Two sequels to the 2018 HALLOWEEN are on the way. HALLOWEEN KILLS is set for October of 2021, while HALLOWEEN ENDS is planned for October 2022. You don't want to be caught flat-footed when Michael Myers returns so catch up on the series history with these 25 essential facts about HALLOWEEN.
Essential Halloween Trivia
1. Producer Irwin Yablans was new to making movies. He came up with the idea for HALLOWEEN on an airplane, based on the idea of a madman stalking babysitters. "I was looking for an idea that wouldn’t cost money because I didn’t have any money," he said. "I couldn’t afford to buy a book or a play. And it happened to be Halloween night."
2. HALLOWEEN was originally going to use a different title: THE BABYSITTER MURDERS. Producer Irwin Yablans suggested naming the movie after a holiday instead. ''The thing that baffled me - to this day, I'm amazed - is that in 75 years of moviemaking, nobody had ever used the title 'Halloween' for a picture," he told the New York Times in 1981.
3. Yablans pitched the movie idea to John Carpenter, whose movie ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 Yablans had helped distribute.
4. Every major studio declined to distribute HALLOWEEN, leading producers Compass Pictures to release it as an independent.
5. HALLOWEEN became an incredible success, grossing $47m in its first run. For a very long time, it stood as the most successful independent movie ever released. Universal stepped up to make and distribute the sequel.
6. Jamie Lee Curtis made her screen debut in HALLOWEEN, but she already had some celebrity status, as her parents were Hollywood stars Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh.
7. Tommy Lee Wallace used a Captain Kirk mask, based on the likeness of William Shatner, for the movie's now-famous mask. It took less than an hour to create the screen-used version, and the main tool was a can of white spray paint. Watch Tommy Lee Wallace recreate his original Micheal Myers mask process in the video below.
8. While a Captain Kirk mask was used as the basis for the Shape's mask, the mold of William Shatner's face wasn't created for Star Trek. To make the mask, the Don Post company used a lifecast of Shatner created for special effects on the 1975 movie THE DEVIL'S RAIN.
9. When John Carpenter originally showed the movie to some studio executives seeking distribution, it did not have the score in place and was not scary. Carpenter said he became determined to save it with the music."
10. For HALLOWEEN, the crew had three weeks of preparation time and only 20 days to shoot.
11. Carpenter had two weeks to write and record the score for HALLOWEEN — two-thirds of the time it took to shoot the movie, but without the score, the film would not have been as powerful.
12. The main HALLOWEEN theme is inspired, Carpenter said, "by an exercise my father taught me on the bongos in 1961, the beating out of 5-4 time." https://theofficialjohncarpenter.com/halloween-soundtrack/
13. With only 20 days to shoot, Carpenter and crew had their work cut out, especially since their springtime Pasadena locations had to be made to look like the midwest in fall. The art department had a few "fall color" leaves which they would scatter around each location, then recover to reuse.
14. One of the constant tasks for cinematographer Dean Cundey was to ensure no palm trees were visible in shots.
15. The character played by P.J. Soles in the original movie was killed in that film, but Soles appeared in the 2018 HALLOWEEN regardless, playing a teacher.
16. When shooting HALLOWEEN, P.J. Soles was dating young actor Dennis Quaid, who was going to play her character's doomed boyfriend before scheduling issues caused him to bow out.
17. HALLOWEEN foretold John Carpenter's future, as footage from the 1951 movie THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD is seen playing on TV. A few years later, Carpenter remade the movie as THE THING.
18. John Carpenter did not return to direct HALLOWEEN II but he did edit the movie and shot some scenes of additional gore and violence.
19. Some scenes and dialogue in John Carpenter's script for HALLOWEEN II were borrowed from the novelization of the original movie.
20. Decades ago, when movies were shown on television, they were occasionally expanded to fill a two-hour time slot using deleted scenes. HALLOWEEN's tight budget meant there was almost no cut footage, but John Carpenter shot several new scenes during the production of HALLOWEEN II in order to pad out the original movie's 1981 television debut.
21. The series gave early roles to several major talents. Prior to joining "SNL," comedian Dana Carvey appeared in HALLOWEEN II; years later, he would team up with a different Mike Myers for WAYNE'S WORLD. Paul Rudd's second released film was HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS; Joseph Gordon-Levitt had a small role in HALLOWEEN H20: 20 YEARS LATER, in which Josh Hartnett made his movie debut and Michelle Williams had an early role.
22. Michael Myers' hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois is named after the hometown of producer and co-writer Debra Hill.
23. The Myers house, as it appears in most of the movie, was actually the way the production found the house. The crew painted it and made it look habitable at the end of the shoot, for what became the opening scene. Years later, to save the house from being demolished, it was moved across the street and a block south.
24. In the 2018 HALLOWEEN, a call heard on the police band references a "disturbance at 707 Meridian," which was the original Myers house street address.
25. Fifteen actors have played Michael Myers throughout the ten HALLOWEEN movies featuring the character so far: Nick Castle primarily played Michael in the original movie, with Tony Moran, Tommy Lee Wallace, and Will Sandin appearing in various scenes. Dick Warlock and Adam Gunn (young Michael) are in HALLOWEEN II; George P. Wilbur wore the mask in HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS and HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS; Don Shanks is in HALLOWEEN 5: THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS; A. Michael Lerner did reshoots in HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS; Chris Durand is in HALLOWEEN H20: 20 YEARS LATER; Brad Loree is in HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION; Tyler Mane starred in Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN and HALLOWEEN II, with Daeg Faerch and Chase Wright Vanek playing young Michael; James Jude Courtney appeared in the 2018 HALLOWEEN.
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All images courtesy of Universal Pictures, unless otherwise indicated.