“I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up, because I realized that what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... evil.” – Dr. Loomis, Halloween (1978).
Michael Myers is one of the most famous movie villains of all time. Who can forget that creepy white face, or that creepy score by director, writer, and jack-of-all-trades John Carpenter? Anyone who appreciates a good slasher flick owes a serious debt to Carpenter and the terrifying monster that he created. For horror movie buffs who want to be creeped out this Halloween season, the 1978 original Halloween has to be on their list of movies to watch.
Fans of the franchise are probably already pumped to see the original Scream Queen herself—Jamie Lee Curtis—reprise her role as Laurie Strode in the sequel coming out this month, which will allow a whole new generation of fans to experience the sheer horror of coming face-to-face with pure, mindless evil. Whether you're a seasoned Michael Myers diehard or a newcomer to series, read on for 44 horrifying facts about the Halloween franchise and discover what this season is all about!
Halloween Franchise Facts
44. Startlingly Short
Halloween H20 is the shortest film in the Halloween franchise. Hey, it had to be one of them.
43. Spooky Success
It’s a massive franchise now, but the original Halloween is one of the highest grossing independent films of all time. With just a budget of $300,000, the movie went on to make $47 million at the box office. Turns out, it doesn't take flashy effects and expensive sets to terrify audiences—I think some of today's horror franchises could take note.
42. Whose Face is it Anyway?
The infamous mask that Michael Myers wears is actually supposed to be William Shatner—it was made in 1966 to tie in with Star Trek. The props department had to buy the cheapest mask they could at the costume store, and the Shatner mask was only two dollars, so they spray painted it white, messed up the hair, and stretched out the eyes. It was a spooky successful transformation—Shatner didn’t know for years it was a Captain Kirk mask that was terrifying audiences everywhere.
41. Teen Scream Queens
All of the girls in the original movie are supposed to be teenagers, but only star Jamie Lee Curtis was actually under 20 when the movie was filmed. She was just 19 at the time, but her role would cement her place in the horror movie canon for good.
40. No Relation
According to Carpenter, he intentionally tried to make sure that the audience would be completely unable to relate to Myers on screen. Being unable to relate to the killer is a staple of the slasher genre, so much so that Carol Clover famously argued that slasher films ask you to identify with the “final girl” over the killer in her book Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film (the final girl being the common name for the lone female who manages to survive the killer's rampage, a trope made common by, you guessed it, Laurie Strode in Halloween).
39. Where Did the Money Go?
The film had a tiny budget to begin with, and a lot of it was tied up from the very start: Half of all the money Carpenter had to make his movie went to Panavision cameras so that it could be shot in widescreen. Such tight purse strings meant that Carpenter often had to get creative in order to achieve what he wanted for the movie.
38. Sex Kills
It has often been argued that many horror films, including Halloween, are anti-sex, as it is frequently sexually active teens who are killed, while more chaste characters, usually females, survive. However, Carpenter and writer/producer Debra Hill have said that they didn’t intend for the movie to suggest that being a virgin is the only way to survive a horror movie. Their reasoning for why Laurie Strode survives is because she isn’t having sex, she has more time to pay attention to her surroundings. Sounds like they found a good explanation how the virgin always makes it to the end of the horror movie—though one could point out that this doesn't exactly disprove the point that these movies send the message that sex is dangerous.
37. Must Be This Scared to Shoot
Because the first Halloween was shot out of order, it might have been difficult for actors to know exactly how scared they were supposed to be in any given scene. Luckily, John Carpenter thought of a handy tool to deal with this—he created a "fear meter" that he could show Curtis so that she knew exactly how frightened she was supposed to be during whatever scene they were filming.
36. Forget the Other Sequels
While there have been many sequels and a complete reboot by Rob Zombie, the upcoming Halloween film, directed by David Gordon Green and written by Green, Jeff Fradley, and comedian Danny McBride, was actually written as a direct sequel to the original film, and it doesn't take into account any of the other films in the franchise. This isn't the first time one of the Halloween movies has pulled this, though—H20 ignores all but the first and second movies in the series.
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35. Tribute to the Master
Hiring Curtis was a tribute to the ultimate horror master, Alfred Hitchcock. Curtis's mother, Janet Leigh, had been the scream queen in Hitchcock’s Psycho. Thus, Carpenter wanted her daughter to be the scream queen in his horror masterpiece. Who knows how many people noticed the connection, but I'm sure those who did were pleased with the nod to a legend of scary cinema.
34. Terrifying Title
The movie almost was named The Babysitter Murders, but due to budget constraints they decided rather than having the movie take place over several days, they’d just have it all set on Halloween night. With a change in pacing came a change in title, and thus the Halloween franchise got its name.
33. Take Two
The Michael Meyers mask in Halloween II is the exact same mask from the first movie, even though it looks significantly different in the sequel. That’s because the paint is peeling off, thanks to the fact that Nick Castle—who played Michael in Halloween—would stuff it into his pocket in between shoots. It looks yellow because Hill—the producer and writer of Halloween – kept it under her bed between movies, collecting dust and discoloring from her habit of smoking in the house. And last, but not least, the mask looks different because they got a new Michael to wear it. In Halloween II Michael is played by Dick Warlock, and Warlock’s face is a different shape than Castle's. This was the last movie where the original mask was used.
32. Hair-raising Audition
Warlock won the role of Michael Myers by putting on the Myers mask and walking into Rick Rosenthal’s office. Rosenthal was the director of Halloween II, and when he saw a creepy man in a creepy mask standing at his door he asked him what the heck he was doing there. Warlock didn’t answer and just stood there like a serial killer for a while before he took off the mask and asked if he could play Michael Myers. Since he could clearly nail "menacing, scary man," Warlock won the part.
31. More Gore
Carpenter wrote, but did not direct, Halloween II, though it seems he didn't quite trust his baby in the hands of another filmmaker. He thought Rosenthal had produced a horror movie that was too “tame.” So, going against Rosenthal’s wishes, Carpenter shot and added in some extra gory scenes. Rosenthal really wanted to make a sequel that played off suspense to terrorize the audience, but Carpenter thought that the rise in gory slasher films in the late '70s and early '80s meant that without that gore, Halloween II would flop.
30. Morning After
Every Halloween movie is set on, you guessed it, Halloween night. Halloween II is the only one in the main series that shows a different day (not including flashbacks), showing the aftermath on the morning of November 1st.
29. One and Done
Originally, the creators of the first Halloween—Hill and Carpenter—didn’t really want to make a sequel. But then the studio offered them a ton of money, and since they didn’t really get paid that well from the first movie, they took the job. But because they didn’t plan on writing a sequel, the writing process didn’t go well, and Carpenter admits it was helped along by lots and lots of beer. That’s why he thinks the sequel doesn’t shine like the original Halloween.
28. Movie Monster
Carpenter kills Michael Myers at the end of Halloween II to open the door for new Halloween monsters in the franchise. Thankfully, Halloween III: Season of the Witch is the only Halloween movie to feature a villain other than Michael Myers, because that idea was so fundamentally awful to the franchise.
27. Creepy Cameo
Curtis’ character Laurie also isn’t in Halloween III, but Curtis does at least make a small cameo appearance—she’s the voice of the operator that Challis keeps reaching when he’s trying to call out of town.
26. Bone-Chilling Best Seller
The movie Halloween III bombed, but the novelization of the movie became a best seller. I guess some stories are just better suited to print?
25. Two Terrifying Sets
There’s a gas station in Halloween III that’s also in Carpenter’s 1980 horror movie The Fog. Ten points if you noticed that detail!
24. Freaky Factory
The film’s Silver Shamrock factory is actually a milk factory—sorry to the lactose-intolerant horror fans out there.
23. Fearsomely Fast
The writer of Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Alan B. McElroy, didn't exactly take his time with the script. There was a writer's strike looming when he sat down to write the film, so he ended up banging the entire thing out in just 11 hours to get it finished before the strike began.
22. Notable Name Change
The character of Jamie in Halloween 4 was originally named Brittany, they decided to change it to pay tribute to Curtis.
21. Movie Magic
Since no fall leaves were available when they filmed Halloween IV, the filmmakers actually had them trucked in so that they could really nail the October scenery. Even stranger, they painted squashes to look like pumpkins since no pumpkins were available at the time of filming.
20. Caring Co-Star
Actress Danielle Harris, who played Jamie, was nine at the time Halloween IV was being filmed. In order to help her not be scared while they were shooting the movie, George P. Wilbur—who was playing Myers—would lift up his mask and remind her that they were just making a movie, and reassure her that he wasn’t going to actually hurt her. Turns out there’s a sweetie pie under that mask!
19. Carpenter, Out!
Carpenter had actually written a treatment for Halloween 4, but because producers read it and found that it wasn’t an ordinary, down-the-middle slasher movie that they knew would make money, they turned him down. With his treatment thrown out, Carpenter decided he didn’t really want anything to do with the movie, making Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers the first Halloween movie that the series creator wasn’t a part of.
18. Alarming Box-Office Sales
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers is the lowest grossing film of the franchise–even lower grossing than Halloween III, which didn't even have Michael in it! Ouch.
17. Petrifying Pumpkin
Halloween 5 was the last Halloween movie to have a pumpkin in the opening credits.
16. Full Freaky Frontal
While it was the end of the pumpkins, Halloween 5 was the start of something else: It's the first Halloween movie to have full frontal nudity in it.
15. Does the Dog Die?
For anyone keeping count (but why would you?!), Rachel’s dog Max in Halloween 5 is the fourth dog to die in the Halloween franchise.
14. Not My Halloween Movie
It should come as a shock to no one that not every movie in the franchise has held up as well as the original. Most of the cast and crew who worked on the sixth entry, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, later disowned the movie. They said the studio, the producers, and the director constantly argued and interfered with production, and it wound up making the movie just plain bad.
13. Break-Out Star
But don't worry, The Curse of Michael Myers wasn't a complete loss. It was also the very first film role for a young, up-and-coming actor by the name of Paul Rudd. He had a relatively small part, but almost immediately after filming wrapped he went and appeared in Clueless, and the rest is history.
12. Title Swap
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers was almost called Halloween 666: The Origin of Michael Myers. There are even some early trailers that feature the original title. Would a title change have saved the movie? Probably not.
11. Spine-Chilling Script
The original script for Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers was apparently so spooky that one Dimension film executive couldn’t sleep after reading it. He immediately green-lit the movie... and then the studio immediately started rewriting it, because of course.
10. Fall Filming
For a series that is based around a specific of the year, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers is the only Halloween movie that was actually filmed entirely in the fall. So at least it has that going for it.
9. Epic Director
The studio asked Peter Jackson to direct Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. He turned it down... Now that is a shame.
8. 20 Blood-Curdling Years
When Curtis came back to reprise her role as Laurie Strode in Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later, she said seeing Michael Myers on set still scared her. Can't blame you there, Jamie.
7. Thank You
Curtis made Halloween H20 as a thank you to her Halloween fans.
6. Young Fan
LL Cool J, who was in Halloween H20, was a young fan of the Halloween movies—his mom took him to see the first one when he was just nine years old. I bet he didn't sleep for a week after that!
5. A Tale of Two Masks
The infamous Halloween mask was almost a clown mask. They had originally thought about going with a clown mask as a throwback to the night Myers killed his sister Judith while dressed up as a clown for Halloween. They went for the Kirk mask that had been spray-painted because it looked emotionless and they thought that was much creepier than the clown mask. At that point, the killer clown archetype wasn't quite what it was today (Stephen King's It came out eight years later, in 1986). But had they used the clown mask, it would've been a chilling omen for the capture of a real-life killer clown, John Wayne Gacy, who was arrested just two months after Halloween was released.
4. Jake Made Me Do It
Apparently, Curtis required a little bit of convincing to return to the role of Laurie Strode for the 2018 film. So who was it that convinced her, you might ask? Jake Gyllenhaal, of course! Who else? The film's director, Green, had recently worked with Gyllenhaal on the film Stronger, and he convinced the actor to use his charisma to get Laurie Strode back in action—and it looks like his charm did the trick!
3. Last One
Carpenter says that 2018’s Halloween is going to be the last one... so of course, studios are already considering a sequel! I guess we'll just have to wait and see how that shakes out, but if there's one thing that we've learned from the franchise thus far, it's that Michael Myers is really hard to keep down!
2. Primary Source
James Jude Courtney, who plays Michael in the upcoming film, learned how to kill from a former Mafia hitman. The hitman lived with Courtney after getting out of prison. The hitman later went to see a film Courtney directed, The Hit List, and advised that the kills weren’t realistic. Courtney then learned from the best and put the knowledge to use to play Myers.
1. In the Blood
The Halloween novelization reveals that Michael’s great-grandfather killed a couple at a harvest dance on Halloween. Great-grandpa Myers then identified his victims by name before he was hanged, even though he’d never met them, saying he heard the names in his dreams.