How The Movie 'Halloween' Was Made, Against All Odds

By | October 15, 2019

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Directed by John Carpenter and starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Halloween is a horror classic -- but behind the scenes, it was a ramshackle affair. The making of Halloween, given the limitations, was a miracle. Like so many paradigm-changing movies, the 1978 slasher movie was a passion project with little funding -- the actors were paid next to nothing, sets and props were cheap, and wardrobe was BYO. While Halloween was not John Carpenter’s first film, it was the one that established him. Despite its low budget, the movie remarkably effective, and terrifying, managing to scare audiences using on suspense rather than buckets of blood and gore.

A Low Budget Classic

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source: Compass International Pictures

Halloween cost just $300,000 to make. The actor who played killer Michael Myers, Nick Castle, was Carpenter’s film school friend and was only paid $25 per day. The famous Michael Myers mask, actually a Captain Kirk (William Shatner) mask painted white, only cost $1.29. Carpenter liked it because of its blank stare.

Other actors were also not paid a lot to make the film. Jamie Lee Curtis was reportedly only paid $8,000. It was her debut performance, and she almost wasn’t cast as Laurie Strode, the last girl standing in the film. The production did not spend a lot of money on wardrobe, either. Most of the cast provided their own costumes, and Jamie Lee Curtis bought her costumes for under $100 from JC Penney.

The Myers house also helped to save some money. It really was abandoned, so the dilapidated nature of the house was quite realistic. On the last day of filming, the crew painted the house and added furniture. Though this was the final thing to be filmed, it was the opening shot in the movie.