40 years later, and John Carpenter’s Halloween is still killing it
The cult classic began haunting audiences on October 25, 1978 and the slasher story is still freaking fans out to this day.
Just in time for the spooky occasion, today marks the 40th anniversary of John Carpenter’s iconic slasher, Halloween.
Written, directed, and scored by John Carpenter, this OG horror film also marked the big screen debut of our favourite scream queen, Jamie Lee Curtis.
With an estimated budget of $300,000, Halloween was the most successful independent film ever made until The Blair Witch Project (1999). The R-rated thriller earned over $70M in worldwide box office during its initial release, and has since spawned an extensive franchise of comics, novels, remakes, and sequels – including this year’s latest direct Halloween sequel.
In honour of Halloween’s 40th, we’re creeping our way through 13 facts you wouldn’t believe about the movie.
Super human strength, or just plain clever? If you’ve ever wondered how Michael Myers was able to smash a car window with his bare hand, look a little closer. You’ll notice a well-disguised wrench attached to Michael’s palm.
2. Spooky Salaries
As with many independent movies, the minimal budget for Halloween resulted in smaller paychecks for the film’s cast and crew. Donald Pleasance (Dr. Sam Loomis) went home with the largest cut at $20,000, while Jamie Lee Curtis (Laurie Strode) received $8,000 for her work. Meanwhile, Nick Castle (Michael Myers) walked away – very slowly – with a grisly $25 per day.
3. Coupon Queen
The film’s limited budget didn’t stop at downsized paychecks. When it came to wardrobe design for Halloween, most of the actors wore their own clothes. As for Jamie Lee Curtis, the actress went to J.C. Penny and spent less than $100 on her wardrobe for Laurie Strode.
4. Fearsome Fruit
There were plenty of fruitful budget hacks throughout the production: The stabbing sound effect heard in the film was actually that of a knife stabbing a watermelon.
5. The Real Housewives of Halloween
Fans of TV’s "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" may recognize a familiar face in Halloween. A nine-year-old Kyle Richards plays the role of Lindsey Wallace, one of the children Laurie babysits on All Hallows’ Eve.
6. Casting Call
Veteran British actors Peter Cushing (Star Wars) and Christopher Lee (The Lord of the Rings) were each offered the role of Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance), but declined due to the low pay. Rumour has it that the following actors were also considered for the part: John Belushi, Mel Brooks, David Carradine, Kirk Douglas, Kris Kristofferson, Charles Napier, Peter O’Toole, Lawrence Tierney, Jerry Van Dyke, and Abe Vigoda.
7. Sneak Peak
John Carpenter makes a couple of semi-cameo appearances in Halloween. When Annie (Nancy Kyes) confronts the potential creep behind the bushes, you can catch a puff of smoke from one of the director’s cigarettes. Carpenter also lends his voice to Annie’s boyfriend Paul, which you can hear during their phone conversation.
8. Got It from Her Mama
It seems as though horror runs in the family. Jamie Lee Curtis is the daughter of Janet Leigh – star of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960). John Carpenter considered the unique casting choice to pay homage to the legendary filmmaker and his timeless psychological thriller.
9. Lending a Hand
Debra Hill – the film’s co-writer and John Carpenter’s girlfriend at the time – also makes an appearance in Halloween. Due to the added cost and scheduling conflicts of arranging a child actor, Hill stood in for a young Michael Myers during scenes where the boy’s hands come into view.
10. Runner Up
It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, but it may surprise you to learn that the Scream Queen was not first choice for the role. John Carpenter originally had his heart set on Anne Lockhart – star of TV’s "Battlestar Galactica" (1978) and daughter of actress June Lockhart (Lost in Space).
11. The Final Frontier
Working on a shoestring budget, production designer Tommy Lee Wallace had to get creative while designing Halloween’s props. The Michael Myers mask was actually a 1975 Star Trek mask, modeled after William Shatner’s Captain Kirk. The prop was purchased for $1.98 at a shop on Hollywood Boulevard, and modified to its now infamous look.
12. Halloween by the Numbers
- John Carpenter and Debra Hill wrote Halloween’s screenplay in approximately 10 days.
- The film was shot in 20 days, over the course of a 4-week period in May 1978.
- It took 3 days for Carpenter to compose the film’s entire musical score.
- For his efforts, Carpenter was paid a mere $10,000 but retained the rights to 10% of the film’s profits.
13. Killer Reunion
It’s been forty years since Michael Myer’s 1978 killing spree, and he’s back for more blood in 2018. After approximately eight months of writing over 80 script drafts, David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) – along with co-writers Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley – brought Halloween back to the big screen. The new direct sequel ignores all other films in the Halloween franchise and reunites Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) with Myers (Nick Castle, James Jude Courtney) one last time.