Tis the season for this appropriately named franchise. Halloween (1978) brought a whole new light to the candy collecting/costume wearing holiday. The silent white masked killer with seemingly no motive and a record of subsequent films with various non explanations of what the storyline is for Laurie Strode and Michael Myers, still intrigues horror fans alike. I, myself, was surprised at how many horror films I have enjoyed over the years; that is since I find them to be scarier now than I ever did in my earlier years.
With most of the iconic horror flicks, Halloween also has seen some remakes in its day. There is also yet another remake slated to be released in June of next year (2017). I’m dead serious, another remake. Is it another money making scheme, or will they preserve what the original character started in this franchise from the late 1970s?
To that end, what is the original character of Michael Myers? Is he as haunting as they have made him out to be? Will he haunt our nightmares as the likes of Freddy Krueger did for so many teenagers? Let’s read on and find out, shall we? I think it goes without saying, there will probably be spoilers…
24. Halloween (1978) – Michael Myers’ Mask Was Very Inexpensive
After finding out this little tidbit of information (which I am about to share with you), I openly stated on my Facebook: “You are a joke to me now, Michael.”
It appears as with most of these iconic horror films, the budgets for the initial movies were very drab. Halloween was no different. Due to its tight budget, the prop department had to use the cheapest $2.00 mask they could find at a costume store. That just so happened to be a Star Trek (1966) William Shatner mask. Now do you understand why I say he is a joke to me? William Shatner? Oh, the laughter continues.
To achieve this “scary” Michael Myers look, they spray-painted (mask) Shatner’s face white, teased out the hair, and reshaped the eye holes. Apparently, William Shatner admitted that for some time after, he had no idea it was used for this film. During an interview, someone mentioned his mask was being used; since then he has stated he is honored by this gesture.
23. Jamie Lee Curtis Didn’t Like Her Performance
Jamie Lee Curtis (who was a mere twenty years old back then) was so disappointed with her performance she was convinced after her first day of filming that she would be fired. Later that night, John Carpenter (director/writer/composer for the film) called adding to Curtis’ panic. Instead, Carpenter was calling to congratulate her and tell her he was quite happy with the way things went. Since Carpenter created a fear meter for Curtis so she would know what level of terror she should be exhibiting (because scenes were shot out of sequence), I wonder if her fears of being axed (lame joke, I know) were before or after Carpenter did this.
Lastly, Carpenter also considered the hiring of Jamie Lee Curtis as the ultimate tribute to the great Alfred Hitchcock himself. This was because Hitchcock had given her mother, Janet Leigh, legendary status in the Robert Bloch (novel) adaptation of Psycho (1960).
22. Actors Wore Their Own Clothes
Remember earlier we talked about a strict budget for the early franchise films? The hits just keep on coming. As there was no money for a costume department, all of the actors had to wear their own clothes. For example, Jamie Lee Curtis went to J.C. Penney for the wardrobe of Laurie Strode; spending less than one hundred dollars for the entire set.
Continuing on with budget constraints, Halloween was made on a budget of $300,000, and shot in 20 days in the spring of 1978. You read that correctly, Spring of 1978. Since it wasn’t the right season, they had the prop department buy leaves and spray paint them fall colors, bag them when a shot was done, and move on to the next sequence.
Even with budgetary issues, Donald Pleasence was paid $20,000 for five days of shooting. The total duration of his scenes? Just over 18 minutes.
21. Halloween II (1981) – Universal Owned Rights for Only Two Films
The way I understand it is, Universal Studios saw how popular the film became and of course saw money to be made. Since the first one was so successful, they picked up the second film with no hesitation. However, after Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) basically bombed (IMDb says it in a much more politically correct way: “the movie didn’t fare well”), Universal Studios waved goodbye and gave the rights to Trancas International, an affiliate of Universal. Trancas International ended up producing the films until 1989. Which means the last film they produced was Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers.
20. John Carpenter Believed Halloween Was a Standalone Movie
John Carpenter (writer and producer), along with Debra Hill (also writer and producer) had no interest in making a sequel as they believed the original Halloween (1978) was a standalone film and didn’t need one. Then, the studio offered him not only the opportunity to write the script but also to make better compensation. To this day, Carpenter states he saw very little earnings from the success of the original movie. He took the job to earn back what he believes was his owed pay.
Turns out, the script was not forming out as well as he thought it would. He has personally stated the only thing that helped him through the screenplay process was a six pack of Budweiser every day, which led to what he believes became an inferior script and bad choices in the movie’s story. To be fair, almost all sequels never live up to the original.
19. John Carpenter Added More Gore to the Film
Carpenter, believing Rick Rosenthal’s (director) version of the film was too tame, shot a few gory scenes that were added into the film. Rosenthal had objected to this, but they still moved forward. Annoyed, Rosenthal wanted the sequel to follow in the footsteps of the original, which avoided explicit violence and gore in favor of well-crafted suspense and terror.
Carpenter’s original intentions were just this, but the success of the new wave of slasher films in 1979 and 1980 made him question whether a film that was scary and R-rated but lacked bloodshed and nudity, would do poorly at the box office. This kind of thinking lead to the extra graphic material inclusions.
18. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) – John Carpenter Had Different Plans for the Series
Upon realizing that Halloween wouldn’t be a standalone film, and that Michael Myers would still live on, John Carpenter wanted to make a new “Halloween” movie each year. Each was to tell a different Halloween-related story. After Season of the Witch underperformed at the box office, the film-makers decided to bring Michael back to life for subsequent sequels.
Using the original molds, the skull, witch, and jack-o-lantern masks seen in the film were mass-produced by Don Post Studios and sold in retail stores to promote the film’s release. Regardless of the promotion efforts, the third installment of the franchise didn’t live up to the hype.
17. A Novel Was Created From This Film
The movie itself was a failure. Storyline all over the place with gaping plot holes and such. However, a novel was created from this film and published in 1982 by science-fiction writer Dennis Etchison under the pseudonym Jack Martin.
The book became a best-seller and was even reissued two years after the film’s release, in 1984. You know how they say the book is typically always better than the movie? I kind of feel like this is exhibit “A”. Too bad the movie was made before the book. I haven’t read the book myself, but I wouldn’t be opposed to it. Fingers crossed it really is better than the movie.
16. Stacey Nelkin Had a Special Platform Built
Stacey Nelkin (character name Ellie Grimbridge) had a special platform built for the scene that shows the robot Ellie head poking out of the ground next to her body. This scene was completed by having Nelkin stick her head through a hole in the platform, while a body double wearing Ellie’s clothes stuck her head down another hole on the platform.
Also, the ooze that came from robot Ellie being decapitated was orange juice. It packs so much less of a punch within the creep factor when you get to some behind the scenes facts, doesn’t it? It’s also crazy how they can use such simple things and manipulate them into what is needed for movies in general.
15. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) – The Script Was Written in 11 Days
Alan B. McElroy wrote the script for this installment in just eleven days. He beat the writer’s strike by simply hours. I’ve never written a script, but, less than two weeks? That’s very impressive.
Let’s run down some more simple facts about this installment:
The drugstore set was also used in Stephen King’s The Stand (1994); Danielle Harris (Jamie Lloyd in the film) sold her clown costume to a fan; Jamie Lloyd’s name was originally Brittany in the script, but was changed to Jamie as a homage to Jamie Lee Curtis; leaves had to be imported (a step up from buying and spray painting the leaves as they had in the original film) and squash had been painted to look like pumpkins; Mike Lookinland (remember Bobby Brady of The Brady Bunch ?) was a production assistant for this film; also, his wife, Kelly Lookinland, played the dead waitress; although the script was written in eleven days, the shoot lasted about 41 days—Ellie Cornell (Rachel Caruthers in the film) and Danielle Harris were required to be on set for 36 of those days.
14. The Ending Was Changed
In the original ending, Rachel (Ellie Cornell) had gone upstairs to take a shower and replace the dirty, blood-stained clothes she was wearing only to have Jamie (Danielle Harris) sneak up behind her and stab her to death.
If you have seen the film, you know it is different. It was changed to Darlene Caruthers (Karen Alston). However, this scene was remembered for the next installment, Halloween 5 (1989), and was used for Rachel’s death scene. Michael Myers waiting for her in broad daylight, zero f*&ks given.
13. Sheriff Meeker Wasn’t Supposed to Survive
Sheriff Meeker (Beau Starr), in the original script, was supposed to be killed in a battle with Michael in the basement. In that scene, the furnace was knocked over and caused the house to catch on fire. Initially, the house was supposed to go up in flames during the infamous rooftop sequence.
All of this was eliminated because of budgetary constraints, thus causing Sheriff Meeker to be kept alive.
There were two more scenes in the script but were never filmed. One was to show Michael following Rachel (Ellie Cornell), Jamie (Danielle Harris) and Lindsey (Leslie Rohland) to the Discount Mart like he did in Halloween (1978); the other was Rachel getting ice cream with Jamie as they talk about her getting adopted by her parents.
12. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) – The Laundry Chute Scene Had Parts Cut Out
Do you remember the laundry chute scene? The acting done by Danielle Harris at such a young age was so believable. Well, in that scene, Jamie (Harris) was originally going to have her stabbed in the leg shown, but, the shot was cut from the film by the MPAA. It was said to be “too disturbing.”
However, Danielle Harris still owns the prosthetic leg.
This same scene was filmed with 30 different sections of the laundry chute. Some shots were full props, others were horizontally positioned to run the camera through on a dolly, and others were various sections that had cut-out portions for filming. Even with the complexity of this scene, it was all shot in one night.
11. The Title is Different Than the Other Films
Is it a strange coincidence that the fifth film of all three iconic slasher series (Michael, Freddy and Jason) have a different title in the film than the one shown on its cover? It could be, but seriously, how odd is that?
In the fifth installment of the Michael Myers franchise, “The Revenge of Michael Myers” is missing. In Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985), the “Part V” is missing; lastly, in A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989), the number “5” is missing. I’m not really sure exactly what the fifth part of each series has going on, but strange. Perhaps it is like the mysterious “13th” floor missing in high rise buildings (superstitions and all)…
10. Changes Had to be Made for an Acceptable Rating
With all of the blood, violence and gore, the film fought an “X” rating. Some scenes had to be trimmed down to keep it rated “R”. These included a shot of Mike quivering on the ground after Michael stabs him in the head with a hand rake; a shot of glass embedded in Officer Eddy’s face after Michael punches through the windshield; and Billy’s leg being hit by the Camaro.
Even with the changes for the movie to give it a passing rating, it still ended up being the lowest grossing film of the Halloween franchise.
9. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) – Most of the Cast and Crew Disowned the Movie
In the Halloween: 25 Years of Terror (2006) DVD, most of the crew and cast disowned The Curse of Michael Myers. It was stated that the studio, producers, and director interfered with each other and argued to the point of absurdity which resulted in a poorly directed and poorly edited film.
Among other highlights of the film:
It was Paul Rudd’s film debut; this installment was filmed before Clueless (1995); Danielle Harris wanted to reprise her role as Jamie, but turned it down when Dimension Films refused to pay her the $5,000 she wanted. This makes no sense to me. Why not pay her the money? She made that role and bringing in new characters never pack the same punch as the originals. Moving right along. This is the only Halloween in the entire series to be filmed in the fall; Debra and John Strode were named after John Carpenter and Debra Hill, who produced the first three films of the series.
8. Daniel Farrands’ Script Was Barely Used
The original script of Daniel Farrands (writer) was far moodier and psychological than the final script used. After reading said script, one of the executives at Dimension films had trouble sleeping the same night, thus calling Farrands and telling him they wanted to move forward with it. Donald Pleasence himself supported the original script and immediately signed on to make the film; only to discover the script was being rewritten.
After Donald Pleasence’s death, as well as creative differences between Joe Chappelle director) and the producer, and an allegedly bad test screening of the original work (the producer’s cut) re-shoots had to be done as well as a ton of editing, which ultimately angered the majority of the cast and crew. Turns out, a number of them vowed never to make another Halloween movie again after all the changes.
7. The Intention Was to Give an Explanation for Michael’s Survival
Sometimes people have good intentions, or at least clear intentions, right? For this installment, the writer and filmmakers wanted to ultimately unveil what had kept Michael Myers alive, as well as his reasons for killing. They came to the agreement and decided on using the “Curse of Thorn” angle. This concept explained that Myers had been under the influence of an ancient Celtic curse which drove him to murder all family members in his bloodline; once this task was completed, the curse would be passed onto another young child.
In other news, the first title of this film was “Halloween 666: The Origin of Michael Myers.” There are existing ad prints and early trailers with that title. Later on, it changed to “Halloween 6” and finally “Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers.”
6. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) John Carpenter Was Supposed to Direct
Carpenter was originally in talks to direct, particularly for this one because Jamie Lee Curtis wanted to reunite the cast and crew of the original to have active involvement in it (I think that was a solid idea). It was believed that Carpenter opted out because he wanted no active part in the sequel; but that’s how rumors get started because this was not the case. Carpenter had agreed to direct the movie, but his starting fee as director by this time had jumped to $10 million. Carpenter rationalized his fee as compensation for revenue he never received from the first Halloween. This matter was still a point of contention between Carpenter and Moustapha Akkad (executive producer), even after twenty years. When Akkad balked at the fee, Carpenter walked away from the project.
5. There Were a Few Nods to the Film Psycho
Psycho happens to be one of my favorite films of all time. Even though Anthony Perkins had some issues as Norman Bates, there was still this innocent charm about him. So in H20, during the scene where Norma is leaving, she is standing in front the car from Psycho (1960). The music playing in the background at this part is also from Psycho. Janet Leigh, who plays Norma, played Marion Crane in the Hitchcock film. The license plate on the car is also the same as the second car Marion buys in Psycho, (NFB 418), which also happen to be Norman Bates’ initials.
4. Kevin Williamson Was Not the Writer
It seemed most people believed that Kevin Williamson (writer; Scream ) was the original writer. Initially Robert Zappia was hired to write “Halloween 7,” which was planned to go direct-to-video after the modest box office performance of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995). Zappia’s original was set in a fenced-in boarding school, as does the finished film. However, when Jamie Lee Curtis expressed interest in returning to the series, Kevin Williamson was asked by Dimension Films to pen a version that added Laurie Strode. When the WGA deemed that Williamson did not deserve writing credit on the screenplay, Dimension Films—hoping to market the film as ‘From the creator of Scream’—offered Zappia more money to share the writing credit. Zappia declined, and Williamson only possesses “Executive Producer” credit on the finished film.
I’m not sure I agree with Zappia and the WGA being so sketch about not wanting to add Williamson to the writing credit. This could be that I’m very partial to Williamson. He’s written a lot of things that I watch and love.
3. Halloween: Resurrection (2002) Kyle Labine Has Appeared in Three Major Franchises
Kyle Labine, who appears as a party goer in this installment, also starred as Bill Freeburg in Freddy vs. Jason (2003).
This makes him the first actor to appear in a Michael, a Jason and a Freddy film. Whether or not they were big roles, it still is a pretty impressive resume to have under one’s belt; three of the most iconic horror franchises of all time I would dare say.
Not that Danielle Harris has been in all of the franchises like Labine, but, she was considered for a role in this installment. It would have been nice to see her return to the original series. However, she did return for the Rob Zombie remakes as “Annie Brackett”.
2. Jamie Lee Curtis is a Legend in Her Own Right
Remember the Labine fellow? How he was a legend in his very own way? Well, Jamie Lee Curtis is one, too (as if we didn’t already know). Of all of the Michael, Freddy, and Jason films, Laurie Strode (Curtis) is the only character to be the protagonist since the first film and eventually (sadly) killed off in the last.
Digging a little deeper, Curtis is only in the film for the first 15 minutes and only says 11 lines of dialogue. With Laurie’s death in this film, the only two recurring lead characters in a horror franchise to not have been killed by the series killer are: Kristy Cotton from Hellraiser (who survived four battles with the demon Pinhead), and Sidney Prescott from Scream (who survives 4 battles with Ghostface). Although this doesn’t pertain to Halloween, Sidney Prescott is a boss.
1. Jamie Lee Curtis is Officially Done with the Series
And finally… As we all know Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) died within the first fifteen 15 minutes of this last installment. Curtis agreed to do her part, only to make sure her character, or herself, wouldn’t (have to) appear in another sequel. At the time of the film’s initial release, executive producers Malek Akkad and Moustapha Akkad, tried to provide an explanation by claiming Jamie Lee Curtis “was so impressed with the screenplay, that she wanted a large part in it.” She has publicly stated that was not the case, she was under contract to do it.
Not entirely sure why the Akkad’s tried to spin a story that wasn’t true, but there you have it, folks. If I’m being entirely honest, I’m glad she decided on ending her character. Let’s be real with ourselves, each subsequent film became increasingly ridiculous. However, I’m not so much of a snob to say that I would totally watch them all over again, and enjoy them, in all of their cheesy glory any day.