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 (1978) 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.
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 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
(at around 26 mins) 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(at around 12 mins) Morgan Strode's black Fleetwood (seen in the driveway when he is talking to Laurie early in the movie) belonged to director John Carpenter, while the Phelps Garage truck (at around 19 mins) was owned by the company that catered for the film.
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 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."
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.
(at around 17 mins) 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).
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.
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.
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.
(at around 14 mins) 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.
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.
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).
(at around 32 mins) As Annie and Laurie are frantically trying to put out the joint in the car and they drive up to Sheriff Brackett and the burglarized 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 1980 horror movie The Fog, that was released two years later. Nancy Kyes who plays Annie is also in The Fog. Both movies are directed by John Carpenter
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.
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 in 1976 when he killed of 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, as opposed to an over- the- top gorefest ala Twitch of the Death Nerve or Bay of Blood.
Carpenter had hired Kim Richards to play the little girl for his last movie Assault on Precinct 13. This is where he met her sister Kyle Richards who played the little girl in Halloween. Both of these women would go on to star in Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
Tommy Lee Wallace had worked second unit for Carpenter for Halloween 1 was originally chosen by Carpenter and the producers to direct Halloween 2. His approach was more of a Halloween H20 approach, where it' s 5 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 alot more blood due to the success of Friday the 13th. Because of all this Wallace decided he wasn't comfortable with the sequel, and he declined. He did direct part 3 however.
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.
The adult Michael Myers was portrayed by Nick Castle in almost every scene, except for some pick-up shots and the unmasking scene, where he was replaced by Tony Moran. Castle was a school-buddy of John Carpenter, and 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, as he was tall and had what Carpenter considered an interesting walk. Castle admitted he was disappointed to not be the face shown, but understood that Carpenter wanted a more "angelic" face to juxtapose with Myers' ghastly deeds. Castle has gone on to become a successful director.
Michael Myers' full name is mentioned in the final film. In the scene where Dr Loomis asks to have him moved to a maximum security hospital, the doctors he is speaking to say his full name as Michael Aubrey Myers.
at around 1h 28 mins) Originally the script had Dr. Loomis having a surprised reaction to the disappearance of Michael Myers's body from the lawn at the end of the film. Donald Pleasence suggested his character's reaction should instead be an "I knew this would happen" look on his face. They shot it both ways and ended up using Pleasance's idea.
The only blood seen in the movie is when Judith Myers is killed and the body of the man Michael killed for his clothes after Loomis makes the phone call along the railroad tracks. It is also see on Laurie's hand and arm after escaping from Michael.
Aside from dialogue, the script cites Michael Myers by name only twice. In the opening scene, he is called a POV until he is revealed at age 6. From the rest of the script on out he is referred to as a "shape" until Laurie rips his mask off in the final scene (which he never reapplies in the script). "The Shape", as credited in the film, refers to when his face is masked or obscured.
at around 1h 8 mins) Because P.J. Soles' shirt was open for the scene where she is strangled with the telephone cord, an alternate version was shot for the trailer and publicity shots where she is wearing a bathrobe.