John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN, which opened on Oct. 25, 1978, unleashed Michael Myers on the teens of Haddonfield, Illinois, for decades to come and wound up making a bloody fortune at the boxoffice.
Actually, there was no such city. Carpenter named it for Haddonfield, New Jersey, his producer, co-screenwriter & then-girlfriend Debra Hill’s hometown. According to Hill, Carpenter named Jamie Lee Curtis’s character, Laurie Strode, after his first girlfriend. Michael Myers’ name came from a British producer who’d gotten Carpenter’s 1976 action thriller ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 into some European film festivals.
Producer Irwin Yablans and financier Moustapha Akkad saw ASSAULT at the Milan Film Festival and asked Carpenter to direct a movie for them about a psychotic killer stalking babysitters. Yablans’ goal was to do a movie with William Friedkin’s 1973 blockbuster, THE EXORCIST, which had the same impact. Carpenter signed on after being assured he’d have complete creative control. The deal brought him $10,000 for writing, directing, and scoring the film. Hill agreed to work for just a percentage of the profits, a smart choice since HALLOWEEN grossed $70 million worldwide and cost only $325,000 to make on a 20-day shooting schedule.
Carpenter & Hill called their story THE BABYSITTER MURDERS. Fortunately, Yablans suggested a few marketing-driven changes — like having it take place Halloween night and calling it HALLOWEEN. Carpenter later explained that Halloween was a fresh movie theme and that he wanted to make a haunted house film. He was a fan of a Canadian horror film, BLACK CHRISTMAS, about an unseen killer targeting sorority house girls. Carpenter asked Clark about developing his slasher killer for a BLACK CHRISTMAS sequel, but Clark wanted to stop making horror films.
When Carpenter asked what he’d do if he did create a sequel, Clark shared some ideas — including having the killer escape a year later from a mental institution and calling the film HALLOWEEN. Clark, who went on to make the 1981 hit comedy “PORKY’S,” had no problem with Carpenter doing HALLOWEEN and later told interviewers he knew many people were talking then about doing HALLOWEEN projects.
HALLOWEEN became the top-grossing independent movie ever made at the time. According to Comscore, the franchise’s first 11 titles grossed nearly $470 million domestically. A 12th title, HALLOWEEN KILLS, just opened to over $50 million, and a 13th episode, HALLOWEEN ENDS, is set to open next Oct. 14.
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what separates the 1978 horror classic
from the typical slasher fare