Behind The Scenes Saturday: Halloween (1978)

(Trivia provided by IMDb.com)

(Pictures provided by google.com and IMDb.com)

(SPOILER ALERT!!!)

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  • The film was originally called The Babysitter Murders, and the story took place over a span of several days. In order to help the film’s budget, the script was changed, and all the events took place in one night. This reduced need for costume changes and multiple locations.
  • Alfred Hitchcock gave actress Janet Leigh legendary status in his film, Psycho. Considering it the ultimate tribute to Hitchcock, John Carpenter cast and gave legendary status to Janet Leigh’s daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis (Laurie).
  • Although the lead female characters are teenagers, Jamie Lee Curtis was the only actress who was really a teenager at the time.

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  • Halloween was speculated to originate the horror movie rule “only virgins can defeat the killer.” This was not John Carpenter and Debra Hill’s intention. Their reasoning for what happened in the film is merely the other characters are so preoccupied with sex, that they don’t realize there’s a killer loose. Laurie Strode survived because she wasn’t in a relationship, thus she was able to avoid the distraction.
  • Because the film was shot out of sequence, John Carpenter created a Fear Meter for Jamie Lee Curtis so she would know what level of terror she should be exhibiting for each scene.
  • John Carpenter was inspired for this story by an experience he had in college. He was touring a psychiatric hospital and he met a child who stared at him with “a look of evil,” and it terrified him.

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  • John Carpenter learned the rhythm for the main theme from his father.
  • After the first day of filming, Jamie Lee Curtis was so disappointed with her performance, that she was so sure she was going to be fired. When John Carpenter called her that night, Jamie assumed the worst. Instead, John was calling to congratulate her and tell her how happy he was with how everything went.
  • Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee were both approached to play Dr. Samuel Loomis (Donald Pleasence). Due to the low pay, both actors declined. Christopher Lee once stated that turning down the role was the biggest mistake he ever made in his career.

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  • They created the stabbing sound effect for the film by stabbing a watermelon.
  • John Carpenter was a huge fan of Donald Pleasence and was thrilled when he accepted the role of Dr. Loomis. When they first met, Donald told him, “I don’t know why I’m in this movie, and I don’t know who my character is. The only reason I’m doing this movie is because I have alimony to pay, and my daughter in England is in a rock ’n roll group and she said that the music that you did for Assault On Precinct 13 is cool.” Although Carpenter was intimidated by a seasoned star like Pleasence and Pleasence asked him difficult questions about his character, the two ended up becoming great friends, and Pleasence worked on two more Carpenter films after Halloween.
  • After seeing her performance in Carrie, John Carpenter wrote the character of Lynda specifically for P.J. Soles.

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  • Since the budget was so small, all of the actors wore their own clothes. Jamie Lee Curtis spent less than a hundred dollars at J.C. Penney for her character’s entire wardrobe.
  • When the movie was released in theaters, P.J. Soles sat among the audience at one of the showings. During her famous “see anything you like” scene, a male audience member sitting right in front of her shouted, “Hell yes, I do!” Her husband at the time, Dennis Quaid, asked her if she wanted him to confront the guy. P.J. declined, very amused by the experience.
  • Speaking of Dennis Quaid, he was actually supposed to play P.J. Soles’ on-screen boyfriend, Bob (John Michael Graham) but couldn’t due to scheduling conflicts.

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  • While John Carpenter focused on Dr. Loomis’ dialogue, Debra Hill wrote most of the dialogue for all of the female characters.
  • While filming the scene in 6-year-old Michael’s point of view, they couldn’t get Will Sandin until the last day. To fix the situation, Debra Hill stepped in as Michael for most of the POV shots. When you see Michael stabbing his sister, it’s actually Debra’s hand holding the knife.
  • Dr. Loomis was originally supposed to have a phone conversation with his wife. However, Donald Pleasence protested, saying that he didn’t think Loomis should have a family or past.

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  • Debra Hill stated that Laurie Strode was named after John Carpenter’s first girlfriend.
  • In order for Michael to break the station wagon’s window, a wrench was adhered to Tony Moran’s arm and hand. The wrench had to be painted flesh colored in order to make it more inconspicuous to the camera.
  • Legendary horror actor, Robert Englund once revealed that during filming, John Carpenter had him throwing bags of dead leaves on the set for one day.

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  • An executive saw a screening of the film before the score was put in, and she told Carpenter it wasn’t scary. After she viewed the finished product with the music put in, she immediately changed her mind.
  • For the final scene in the movie, Donald Pleasence asked John Carpenter how Dr. Loomis should react after seeing Michael’s body was gone. Dr. Loomis should either be completely shocked, or look as if he was expecting the body to be gone. Carpenter decided to film both reactions and used the one he felt worked better.
  • Debra Hill and John Carpenter were actually a couple during the time they were filming Halloween. Jamie Lee Curtis said they were her “horror movie parents” and she cried when they broke up in 1979.

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  • To successfully shoot the scene where Michal Myers kills the dog, the dog’s trainer held the dog in his rams and dropped him naturally. It was shot in slow motion to give the illusion the dog was slowly killed.
  • Sandy Johnson (Judith) said that the only thing she didn’t like about filming was how badly the fake blood stained her skin. She filmed topless so the blood was all over bare chest and stomach, and it had to be scrubbed off between takes. She said whoever scrubbed her was way too rough, so Jamie Lee Curtis stepped in and she was much gentler.
  • John Carpenter himself provided the voice for Annie’s boyfriend, Paul, and talked to her and Lindsey (Kyle Richards) on the phone. 

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