When it comes to horror franchises, nothing touches Halloween. For over 40 years, audiences have watched Michael Myers and Laurie Strode match wits with John Carpenter's spine-tingling score playing in the background. But what does it take to keep a franchise going for nearly half a century? Somehow, the impossibly bad Halloween: Resurrection isn't the scariest thing in this franchise's history. As we'll see, Halloween has encountered its fair share of real-life scares and controversies over the years...
Myers was influenced heavily by Carpenter’s own experience with mentally ill patients. During a college trip, he visited a mental institution in Kentucky and came across a patient who was "12 to 13 years old.” Carpenter remembers being unsettled by the patient’s “schizophrenic stare,” which he described as “unsettling,” “creepy,” and “completely insane.”
According to Carpenter, he intentionally tried to make sure that the audience would be completely unable to relate to Myers on screen. One way he did this was by making it hard to see eye-to-eye with Myers...and I mean that literally. Throughout the original film, Myers’ eyes are rarely visible. Instead, they're obscured by shadows or the mask. John Carpenter did this on purpose since this small feature makes it harder to connect with someone.
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 possible, and the Shatner mask was under two dollars. They spray painted it white, messed up the hair, and stretched out the eyes, transforming Captain Kirk into an emotionless monster. The mask was so unrecognizable that Shatner himself didn’t recognize it.
William Shatner’s face wasn’t the only one in the running to be Michael Myers mark—other options included Richard Nixon and Spock. Did the people behind Point Break possibly take a cue from Halloween's cast-offs?
Myers nearly wore an Emmett Kelly clown mask instead of his now-iconic shapeless white mask. The idea was to pay homage to Myers' first kill, where he wiped out his whole family in a clown costume. Had the filmmakers used the clown concept, it would’ve been a disturbing omen for some real-life horror. Just two months after the film's release, authorities captured John Wayne Gacy, the killer clown.
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.
John Carpenter made the first Halloween movie on an incredibly tight budget. Most of the time, this made his life hard. But sometimes, it brought out his best material. For most fans, one of the movie's most chilling scenes is Michael's first attack on his entire family. The scene is so scary because it's filmed from little Michael's perspective, meaning viewers actually accompany Michael on his first kills.
It's a brilliant scene--and it only happened because Carpenter couldn't afford any more time with the child actor he’d hired to play young Michael Myers. By having the scene take place from Michael's perspective, we never actually see the young boy. Smart, eh?
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 had a brilliant plan for dealing with this issue. 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.
The movie was almost called The Babysitter Murders, but due to budgetary constraints, the filmmakers decided that instead of having the movie take place over several days, it would be far cheaper to set the entire plot on one night. And when it comes to a spooky movie, one night is the most evocative of all: Halloween. After realizing that somehow no one had registered a movie called Halloween, John Carpenter and Debra Hill grabbed the title for themselves. And that's how Halloween franchise got its iconic name.
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With the new holiday-themed title and premise, the film’s production had to be moved up to accommodate an October release. The film was shot in four weeks, with a preceding four weeks to prepare and a following four weeks to edit. That’s only 12 weeks, beginning to end!
John Carpenter was paid only $10,000 to direct the first Halloween movie. Actor Nick Castle, who played Michael Myers, received only $25 a day. The low budget of the film had a huge impact on production decisions. The dark lighting of the film wasn’t only meant to create mood. It was literally the crew's only option. They didn’t have money for more lights.
Sound effects were also affected by the low budget. The sounds of slashing flesh was created by stabbing a watermelon.
Halloween's eerie theme music was integral to the movie's success. As in, without the music, the movie never would have become the cultural juggernaut that it is today. You see, after showing a cut of Halloween without music to a group of major studio executives, literally no one wanted to distribute the movie. After Carpenter showed them a version with music, he found a distributor.
Not only did Carpenter direct the first Halloween movie, he also co-wrote it and composed the score...in just three days. At the time, he couldn’t read music. How the theme isn't just a haphazard tambourine is beyond me.
Director, writer, composer and… actor? Carpenter gave himself a cameo in the first Halloween movie; the voice of Annie’s boyfriend, whom she speaks to over the phone, is supplied by Carpenter himself.
Producer and co-writer Debra Hill had a hard to spot cameo in Halloween. When the child actor playing young Michael Myers wasn't available, Hill filled in for him. Or rather, part of her did. Carpenter used Hill’s hands in scenes that pictured Michael Myers' hands. This accounts for our young masked monster's polished manicure.
At the time of the original film, the house used as the Myers home had a very ironic owner. The building belonged to a local church.
John Carpenter and Debra Hill dated when they wrote the first two Halloween movies together. They divided the writing by gender. Hill wrote most of the dialogue for the female characters, so that the teenage girls would sound realistic. Meanwhile, Carpenter focused on Dr. Loomis's speeches and apparently phoned it in hard on Michael Myers who has no lines.
In the greatest example of writing to a deadline, it only took Carpenter and Hill ten days to write the script for the original Halloween movie. College students, be inspired.
There are rumors that Myers is inspired by a serial killer named Stanley Stiers. Stiers was only eleven years old when he allegedly killed his family on Halloween in 1923. However, online searches don’t bring up many reputable results for Stiers. As far as we can tell, "Stanley Stiers, the preteen homocidal maniac" is just a rumor that got picked up by too many people.
The thing with a movie called Halloween is that you kinda need to set it in October. The only problem was: it had to be shot in the spring in order to have it ready for a fall release. In order to give the movie the proper ambiance, production designer Tommy Lee Wallace personally painted dozens of bags of fake leaves to spread all over the exteriors of the set.
However, anyone paying close attention would notice that the neighborhood trees look curiously green for October 31st.
John Carpenter hid many homages to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho in Halloween. He got the name "Loomis" from Hitchcock's movie and even cast Jamie Lee Curtis, the daughter of Psycho star Janet Leigh, as the lead in Halloween. Clearly, the scream queen gene came through loud and clear.
Only one person didn't think Jamie Lee Curtis could play Laurie Strode. That person was Jamie Lee Curtis herself. After her first day of filming Halloween, Curtis was convinced that she was so horrible that Carpenter was going to fire her. 40+ years and 11 movies later, I hope her confidence level is a little bit higher.
When it came time to cast Dr. Loomis, Carpenter ran into a world of trouble. At first, he offered the role to Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, only for both actors to turn him down because they wanted more money. In the end, Carpenter was thrilled when Donald Pleasence accepted the role. According to Pleasence, however, the feeling wasn't mutual.
Pleasence was a respected actor who had appeared in the classic The Great Escape and played the iconic villain Ernest Blofield in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice. He only said yes to Halloween because his kids like Carpenter's previous movie Assault on Precinct 13. Hey, whatever works!
Did you ever wonder where John Carpenter got the name of Michael Myers? The answer goes back to classic horror nerd psychology. Carpenter genuinely thought that using a co-worker's name for a homicidal maniac would be a nice compliment. The real life Michael Myers was a film promoter who helped Carpenter with his breakout flick, Assault on Precinct 13. Very reasonably, this man needed clarification about why his name was now a synonym for evil.
According to co-screenwriter Debra Hill, Carpenter named another character after a dear friend. He got the name for his heroine Laurie Strode from his first girlfriend.
Six different people played Myers in the original film. There was Nick Castle and Debra Hill doing the handiwork for the POV shots, Tommy Lee Wallace portrayed Myers in the closet scene. Stuntman Jim Winburn filmed some dangerous sequences and Tony Moran played adult Myers for the unmasking scene, while Will Sandin played young Myers.
In Halloween, P.J. Soles plays one of Michael’s victims. She attended a screening with her then-boyfriend Dennis Quaid, and in one scene where she appears nude, they were stunned by a rowdy audience member. After Soles's character takes off her top, she says "See anything you like?" leading an audience member to yell, “Heck yes I do!” Quaid asked Soles if she’d like to confront the man, but Soles declined.
John Carpenter used an actual house to film Halloween, and it’s still standing today—though not in its original location. For years, it sat at 709 Meridian Avenue in South Pasadena, California, but in 1987, it was lined up to be demolished. To save it, the house was relocated to 1000 Mission Street in South Pasadena, and it was eventually named a historical landmark. Horror road trip, anyone?
It’s a massive franchise now, but the original Halloween was the highest grossing independent films of all time (or it was until The Blair Witch Project came along). 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.
John Carpenter was thrilled to see Halloween become such a hit. However, he didn't stay happy for too long. Remember, he'd only received $10,000 for all his work on the movie and even after it became a blockbuster, he didn't get more. Carpenter took his anger to the movie's producer Moustapha Akkad and tried to negotiate for more money. Akkad refused, igniting a decades-long feud between the two main men behind the Halloween franchise.
An extended version of Halloween aired on TV in 1979. One of the scenes shows Myers’ medical records, revealing that his middle name is Aubrey. Some sources also say it is Audrey. This is...a choice.
In the extended TV version of Halloween, a scene at Laurie Strode’s house is filmed at 1428 North Genesee Avenue. This house was also Nancy Thompson’s in A Nightmare on Elm Street. Although the house was used for one scene, it is meant to be the same location we see in the others. So technically, Myers was a nightmare on Elm Street. Mind. Blown.
After Halloween became a huge hit, it was only a matter of time before the studio asked for a sequel. Originally, Hill and Carpenter didn’t really want to make another movie, 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. Carpenter has even admitted that he was basically chugging beers the entire time he wrote the sequel. This is part of why he thinks the second movie doesn’t shine like the original Halloween.
The new director of Halloween II was Rick Rosenthal, and he had one incredibly important task: Find a new Michael Myers.
Dick Warlock won the role 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.
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. Though the movie was far from successful, it's gone on to become a cult classic.
The writer of Halloween IV: 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.
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!
In another world, Jamie Lloyd would have been played by a different young actress. Melissa Joan Hart, of Sabrina the Teenage Witch fame, auditioned for the role.
Myers is unmasked twice in Halloween film franchise. The first reveal in Halloween comes during Myer’s fight with Laurie Strode. The second unmasking comes in Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, where Myers unmasks for his niece (Laurie Strode’s daughter), Jamie Lloyd. Despite this shoulda-been-exciting moment, Halloween 5 was a critical and commercial failure.
Here's one bright spot in Revenge of Michael Myers...or at least it's a bright spot if you're a cat person. Myers is shown killing dogs in Halloween 1, 4, and 5. However, Halloween 5 also shows Myers killing two people in a cabin, but then sparing the box of kittens in the same room.
Hoo boy. By the time the sixth Halloween movie rolled around, things were messy indeed. High-powered lawsuits, constant script rewrites, and high tensions on set all combined to make this movie the least popular entry in the franchise. But the root of the problem goes back to plain old in-fighting. Three production houses were involved in the movie and they all wanted different things. Strap in. The Halloween film franchise is about to go wild.
Most of the cast and crew who worked on the sixth entry of the franchise, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, later disowned the movie. The on-set drama was so miserable that the screenwriter actually snuck a subtle dig into the movie's title. The Curse of Michael Myers secretly refers to the movie's "cursed" production.
Among some, ahem, interesting behind-the-scenes plans, one of the studios wanted to cast shock jock Howard Stern in a minor role, as well as bombshell Denise Richards. Meanwhile, the producers refused to pay Danielle Harris (the OG Jamie Lloyd who, by the way, was a pretty darn great character) anything above a measly $5000 to act in the movie.
Danielle Harris really tried to return to the Halloween franchise. She even tried to get legally emancipated from her parents so that she could work longer days on set and avoid the whole "people who are under 18 have to go to school" thing. Even though Harris spent plenty of her own money on lawyers who tried to make this happen, the studio resisted her at every turn.
A lot of people wisely passed on appearing in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. The studio asked Peter Jackson to direct the movie, but he turned it down. The great Christopher Lee also said "no thanks" to appearing in the movie (he would've portrayed Dr. Wynn). Considering how filming went, it sounds like these guys made a good call.
People hated Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers so much that fans managed to get their hands on a producer's cut of the film that many people say is much better than the theatrical release. After years of low-res bootleg copies, Miramax finally released the "Producer's Cut" on DVD in 2014. And if even that doesn't float your boat, don't worry. Some especially hard-core fans even made their own cuts of the movie.
Myers’s niece, Jamie Lloyd, becomes pregnant during the series and the “Producer’s Cut” of the sixth film makes a deranged revelation about her baby. It turns out that the father is Michael Myers. According to this extended version of the film, the administrator of Smith’s Grove Sanitarium arranged a get-together for Myers and his niece, with Lloyd being an unwilling participant. Oof. That's dark, even for Halloween.
As though the crew behind The Curse of Michael Myers didn't already have enough on their plates, on February 2, 1995, their lives got even more difficult. That was the day that Donald Pleasence, the actor who played Dr. Loomis, sadly passed of heart failure. Despite the fact that Pleasence had starred in all five of the existing Halloween movies, one of the producers responded to his passing with a cruel request.
Since Pleasence now couldn't be in reshoots, they wanted to cut him out of the fifth movie entirely. Thankfully, that didn't happen.
Here's my favorite Curse of Michael Myers-related blunder. Completely unintentionally, the studios has just released three Halloween movies with the subtitles The Return of Michael Myers, The Revenge of Michael Myers, and The Curse of Michael Myers. If this order sounds familiar and distinctly now shudder-inducing, it's because the light-hearted Pink Panther series used the same subtitles in the same order. Honestly, it's kind of fitting considering how silly some of these Halloween movies became.
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.
After the fiasco that was Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, everyone on the production team knew that if they wanted to keep the franchise alive, the next entry had better be good. Thankfully, Halloween: H2O, which was released 20 years after the original movie, helped breathe life back into Michael Myers and Laurie Strode's story. The movie received much stronger reviews than Curse but that doesn't mean everything was hunky dory in the Halloween-verse...
A horror villain’s name is an important part of the identity, so it was pretty unfortunate that Halloween H20: 20 Years Later actually features a misspelled version of Myers’ name. A newspaper headline talked about “Michael Meyers.” Yeah...it's not H20's finest moment.
Here's a cute cameo. Jamie Lee Curtis's secretary in H20 was played by a very special actress: Curtis's own mother and Psycho's iconic scream queen Janet Leigh.
Get ready to make the "shower thought" face when you read this one: Halloween H2O obviously puns on the idea of 20 years since the first Halloween movie and the chemical symbol for water. But get this! H2O was the seventh movie in the franchise and water has a pH balance of 7.0.
The Halloween franchise fits nicely into the canon of horror films. In Halloween, Laurie Strode tells her babysitting charges to “go down the road to the Mackenzie's” for help. As an homage, this same line was written into Scream—said by Casey Becker’s dad to Casey’s mother. Halloween H20 takes this even further when Laurie Strode tells her son to “go down the street to the Beckers'” repaying the reference to the Scream characters.
If H20 was a return to form for the Halloween film franchise, then Resurrection was an abysmal drop back to the bottom of the barrel. And I'm not the only one who feels this way. John Carpenter says this movie make him "cringe" and Jamie Lee Curtis has declared that it's "a joke." But hey, if you want to see Tyra Banks and Busta Rhymes fight Michael Myers, give it a watch.
For the record, it seems like Jamie Lee Curtis always knew that Resurrection wasn't going to be a fan favorite. She didn't even want to appear in the eighth Halloween movie, only filming her scenes because she literally had to due to her contract. Curtis also had a firm demand for the movie's producers: She'd only come back if they offed her character. After seeing the mess that was the Resurrection script, she really didn't want Laurie Strode to be in any more lame Halloween sequels.
Nowadays, it seems like every old movie is either getting remade or rebooted. Nothing, however, comes close to Halloween's reboot record. The series has been rebooted five times. That's almost one reboot per two movies which seems like a lot until you ask yourself "What would I do if I had to write a sequel to something as irredeemable as The Curse of Michael Myers or Resurrection?"
Sometimes, horror movies are plagued with off-screen tragedy. When it comes to Halloween, the worst fate was suffered by the series' longtime producer Moustapha Akkad. Two Halloween movies have been dedicated to him (the 2007 and 2018 reboots) and the reason is very dark. Akkad and his daughter perished in 2005 during terror attacks in Jordan, Syria.
However, Akkad's son Malek has helped produce every Halloween movie since 1996, which means that Moustapha's legacy lives on.
2005 was a bummer year for the Halloween franchise. Not only did it mark the passing of Moustapha Akkad, it also saw the end of Debra Hill. She co-wrote Halloween and Halloween II and sadly perished of cancer on March 7, 2005.
The 2007 remake delves into Myers’ backstory far more heavily than the original, and reveals that Myers killed numerous animals as a child. One of the first scenes shows Myers tormenting a mouse, and PETA actually praised director Rob Zombie for showing a link between animal cruelty and violence towards humans.
Rob Zombie, the director of the divisive 2007 reboot, has admitted that making Halloween was...not the most fun. The reason for this is simple, in retrospect at least: The Weinstein Company produced the movie. While Harvey Weinstein is now most famous for making every actress's life miserable, it turns out that he could be pretty awful to male directors too. Zombie said that the Weinsteins were incredibly overbearing and that working for them was "a miserable experience." Not surprised, my man!
The 2007 remake made Halloween franchise history. It marked the first time that Myers says a word onscreen. As a child, young Myers speaks, but after he goes to the asylum at Smith's Grove, he becomes completely silent—as he SHOULD be, Rob Zombie.
Michael is typically portrayed as being a whopping seven feet tall to go with his whole unstoppable force of evil vibe. When actors were on the shorter side, the filmmakers used camera tricks to make it look like Michael towers over his victims. However, Tyler Mane, the man who played Michael in the 2007, remake came closest to fulfilling Myers's height. At 6’8” tall, he really cut down on the need for optical illusions.
What if another young redhead actress took the role of Laurie Strode instead of Scout Taylor Compton? It almost happened. Academy award winner Emma Stone auditioned for the part.
The 2018 Halloween film ignores all of the previous sequels, serving as a direct sequel to the 1978 original. As a result, the characterization and added backstory that Myers had over nine films is removed. Director David Gordon Green remains adamant that Myers is “the essence of evil… He has no personality. He has no interests.” I don’t know, Dave, he seems pretty interested in killing people!
Apparently, Curtis required a little bit of convincing to return to the role of Laurie Strode for the 2018 film. At the 11th hour, an unlikely person made it happen: Jake Gyllenhaal. Here's the back story: The reboot's director, David Gordon Green, had recently worked with Gyllenhaal on the film Stronger. He convinced the actor to use his charisma to get Laurie Strode back in action—and it looks like his charm did the trick!
Remember the scene in Baby Driver where one of the robbers accidentally buys Austin Powers’ masks instead of Halloween ones? As in, the character played by Canadian comedian Mike Myers, not the creepy villain Michael Myers? The scene was actually originally supposed to use two Halloween masks, but the makers of the new Halloween film shut that idea down.
In an interview with NME, Jamie Lee Curtis made a controversial statement. Despite starring in some of the most iconic horror flicks of all time, she said that she does not enjoy horror movies. She said, “I do not like horror movies. I do not say this for a joke, although it gets a laugh, I really don’t. There’s nothing I like about being scared.” As long as she keeps acting in them, I’m satisfied.
Good news for Halloween fans. There are two more guaranteed movies. Halloween Kills will come out sometime in 2021 and Halloween Ends will round things out in 2022.
We now know him as Michael Myers, but Halloween's villain originally had a different name—and a horrific origin story. Myers was credited as “The Shape” in the original film. The name came from a deranged minister during the Salem Witch Trials. Cotton Mather, who persecuted hundreds of innocent women, described evil spirits as “the Shapes of persons.” Like these demons, John Carpenter saw Myers as a modern-day spirit whose only purpose was to senselessly massacre innocent people.
The actor who plays Michael Myers in the acclaimed 2018 Halloween reboot received a chilling crash-course in taking lives. James Jude Courtney actually hired a former Mafia hitman, who lived with the actor. During their time as horror roomies, the former assassin taught Courtney how to make the most violent scenes in the new Halloween movie as realistic as possible.
Why is Michael Myers so evil? According to Dr. Loomis, it's the way he always was. In his words, "I met him, fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left. No reason, no conscience, no understanding; even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face and, the blackest eyes... the devil's eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... evil."
However, Curtis Richards (the pseudonym used by Dennis William Etchison who wrote the novelization of Halloween) provided some additional insights...
Richards revealed that Michael Myers was not the first killer in the Myers family. His great-grandfather was actually hanged after he committed two gruesome murders. As he was about to die, he chillingly uttered the names of the young couple that he had killed at a harvest dance, despite the fact that he’d never met them before that night. When asked how he knew who they were, he replied that he’d heard their names in his dreams. Knife-wielding runs in the family?
Richards had one more theory about Myers' motivations. He exposed the role of mental illness, as Michael confesses to his grandmother that he hears voices. In his words, "Voices tell me to say I hate people."
Jamie Lee Curtis rose to fame when she played the iconic scream queen Laurie Strode in Halloween—but few people know that behind the scenes, the teenage actress was hiding a dark secret. Its consequences would haunt Curtis for the next ten years. Curtis was becoming addicted to prescription painkillers and opiates. She kept her struggle a secret for a decade before finally getting help in 1988.
My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.
Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.
Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.
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