Oct 31, 2014

13 Things You Didn't Know About Halloween

Article By: Tyler Doupe

With our favorite holiday of the year right around the corner, it’s almost time to pull out the quintessential horror title, John Carpenter’s Halloween. Most horror fans have seen the film so many times that we can recite the dialogue from memory but somehow the film never gets old and its magic is never lost.

When it comes to trivia, there’s not a genre film enthusiast alive that doesn’t know that Michael Myers’ mask is a William Shatner mask painted white. But we’ve dug a little deeper and searched through old interviews, DVD commentaries, and more to bring you some slightly lesser known facts about the 1978 slasher film classic. With that said, we now present to you 13 Things You Didn’t Know About John Carpenter’s Halloween!

1. Critics hated it.

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It wasn’t until it was reviewed by The Village Voice, which compared the film to Psycho and Carpenter’s work to Hitchcock that the tide turned for the film. Many of the critics that had taken a negative stance on the picture re-reviewed it and completely reversed their initial criticisms of the now classic John Carpenter film. As Halloween began to generate more and more financial success, the favorable reviews continued to pour in as if the negative critiques had never existed. 

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2. Donald Pleasance's daughter made him meet with John Carpenter.

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Pleasance’s daughter was a big fan of John Carpenter’s film Assault on Precinct 13 and she demanded that her father take the meeting to hear the young director out. Pleasance told Carpenter that he didn’t understand the script at all. This terrified Carpenter but the pair eventually warmed up to one another and that marked the beginning of a very long working relationship between the two. 

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3. Christopher Lee passed on the role of Dr. Loomis.

Several years later, Debra Hill ran into Sir Christopher Lee at an Avco Embassy function and he approached her admitting his profound regret at not taking the role. The film had become a wild success and the Dr. Loomis role revitalized Donald Pleasance’s career.

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4. Haddonfield, Illinois is named after producer Debra Hill’s hometown.

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Hill is from Haddonfield, New Jersey and attended Haddonfield High School. After the film’s release, rumors circulated that Halloween was based on a true story that had occurred in Haddonfield, New Jersey. The rumors also purported that The Myers’ house actually existed within Haddonfield, New Jersey. 

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5. John Carpenter denies criticism that Laurie’s friends were killed off for having sex.

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Carpenter has explained that the reason Laurie’s friends were killed and Laurie survived is because her friends were too preoccupied with their boyfriends to notice the evil that was afoot. Laurie didn’t live because she was virginal but because was more in tune to what was going on. Her friend’s deaths were not punishment for having sex onscreen rather than the result of a collective lack of awareness. 

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6. The way that Dr. Loomis describes Michael Myers is based on an experience John Carpenter had at Western Kentucky University.

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One of Carpenter’s classes made a trip to a mental institution and the aspiring filmmaker observed a boy that had a blind-looking, emotionless face. He reports that they boy had black eyes that looked like they could have belonged to the devil. The boy stared at Carpenter with a look of evil that later inspired Dr. Loomis’ description of Myers as a boy. 

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7. The long takes used in the film weren’t entirely for artistic reasons.

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The primary reason that Halloween uses long takes is because the production didn’t have the time or money to do several takes with multiple cameras. As a result, what we see in the finished product is a series of continuous takes that go on for extended periods of time rather than frequent cuts from a variety of angles.

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8. Dennis Quaid was the first choice to play Lynda’s (P.J. Soles) boyfriend Bob.

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P.J. Soles and Dennis Quaid were living together as a couple at the time the film was being shot. But due to an inability to coordinate schedules, the casting department went with John Michael Graham as a second choice. 

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9. John Carpenter regards 'Friday the 13th' as a 'Halloween' rip-off of sorts.

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Carpenter calls Friday the 13th an obvious imitator and suggests that Friday the 13th imitated his film precisely but became much more grotesque and violent in the process. Carpenter feels that Friday the 13th went wrong when it lost sight of its characters and timing in favor of excessive splatter effects. He is ultimately flattered by the fact that his film is so frequently imitated. 

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10. Carpenter cites his made-for-TV film 'Someone’s Watching Me' as inspiration for certain aspects of 'Halloween.'

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Someone’s Watching Me featured several phone conversations and isolated characters throughout the film. And that is replicated throughout Halloween. He feels that scenes where characters are talking over the telephone heighten the sense of fear that is elicited in the viewer. 

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11. John Carpenter gets uncomfortable directing sex scenes.

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He says that had P.J. Soles and John Michael Graham not been under the covers when they were shooting their love scene, he doesn’t think he would have been able to be in the room with them. He cites that he never knows how much to ask the actors for and that he finds onscreen sex somewhat uncomfortable to watch. 

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12. Jamie Lee Curtis has said that she often felt less ‘exploited’ in so-called exploitation films than she did in a lot of her earlier mainstream pictures.

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She made Halloween, Halloween II, The Fog, Prom Night, Terror Train, and Road Games over a short period of time. In all six of those features, she played intelligent and resourceful characters. She also never had to take her clothes off in any of her horror films. However, one of her first big mainstream roles was in Trading Places, which required her to go topless and play a call girl. 

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13. Jamie Lee Curtis is terrified of scary movies…Even her own.

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She hates being frightened and fears the unknown. At the premiere of Halloween, she made a mental note to avert her eyes for the duration of specific scenes in the film. She knew that it would only be safe to look after the audience’s screams had subsided. 

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