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Behind The Scenes Facts About "Halloween" And The Creation Of Michael Myers

Entertainment | October 31, 2021

Michael Myers at his scariest in 1978. (AnchorBayEntertainment)

Like Charlie Brown to Thanksgiving or Rudolf to Christmas, Halloween wouldn’t feel right without Michael Myers haunting your TV set. John Carpenter’s “Halloween” set the standard for scary movies during the spookiest time of the year. Made in 1978, starring Jamie Lee Curtis, “Halloween” spawned an astounding 12 sequels and grossed over $640 million worldwide and counting.

Amazingly, the original “Halloween” only took 20 days to shoot for just $300,000. The pioneering film went on to gross over $70 million, a record that stood for more than 20 years until 1999’s “The Blair Witch Project. Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about Michael Myers and “Halloween.”

Halloween movies continue to come out decades later. (Popsugar)

Less Is More

One constant theme during the inception and filming of “Halloween” was undoubtedly the budget. Producer Irwin Yablans conceived it thanks in part to his lack of funding. "I dreamed up Halloween on an airplane," he told The New York Times. "I was coming back from a film festival in Milan, and I was looking for an idea that wouldn't cost money because I didn't have any money. I couldn't afford to buy a book or a play. And it happened to be Halloween night. The thing that baffled me -- to this day, I'm amazed -- is that in 75 years of movie-making, nobody had ever used the title Halloween for a picture."

The house they filmed in was actually abandoned before they got to it. (AnchorBayEntertainment)

Fork In The Road Moments

However, Director John Carpenter wanted to call the film “The Babysitter Murders.” Thankfully, Yablans convinced the genius director that the film would drive more interest if it was centered around the eeriest holiday of the year. Carpenter then co-wrote the screenplay with his girlfriend at the time, Debra Hill, in just 10 days!

As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Carpenter, who’s famous for doing the musical scores of his movies, finished Halloween’s creepy sounds in just three days! The iconic music came from a simple bongo drumming exercise he learned from his father.

Janet Leigh next to daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis. (ParamountCompassInternationalProductions)

Jamie Lee Curtis’ Big Break

In another twist of fate Carpenter almost went with Anne Lockhart for the role of Laurie Strode but Curtis eventually won him over after three separate auditions. Her portrayal of the scene where Strode looks out the backyard and sees Myers persuaded the director. Although, maybe Yablans knew more than he let on. "I found a shot of Janet Leigh in the infamous shower scene from "Psycho" and placed it alongside one of Jamie, in a similar screaming pose," said Yablans. "We sent it out on the wires, and it made every newspaper in the country."

Ironically Curtis has admitted that “I loathe horror movies. I don't like to be surprised." Nevertheless, she dove in head first. She and Carpenter devised a “fear meter” to help her gauge her character’s terror as the movie was shot out of sequence.

The simplicity of "Halloween" made it special. (CompassInternationalProductions)

Shoestring Budget

Apparently, it’s not all about the benjamins. Micheal Myers iconic mask? It was a $2 Captain Kirk mask from Star Trek with all its features stripped off. Today, it ranks among the most iconic masks in movie history. The film’s overall darkness wasn’t intentional, they just couldn’t afford more lights. Jamie Lee Curtis even bought her character’s wardrobe for just $100 at JCPenney. She only earned $8,000 total!

Since the movie was shot in spring rather than fall, crew members painted leaves and scattered them around the set. Of course, they also had to go around and collect them afterward to use for future scenes. Three separate actors played Michael Myers but the only face you ever see was Tony Moran, who made just $250 for a single shot. The rest of the time the unkillable foe was played by Nick Castle, a friend of Carpenter’s from USC.

Tags: Halloween | Jamie Lee Curtis | Michael Myers

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Kellar Ellsworth

Writer

Kellar Ellsworth was born and raised in Hawaii. He is an avid traveler, surfer and lover of NBA basketball. He wishes he could have grown up in the free love era!