|Directed by||John Carpenter|
|Music by||John Carpenter|
|Editing by||Charles Bornstein|
|Distributed by||Compass Int'l|
|Release||October 25, 1978|
|Running time||91 minutes|
|Followed by||Halloween II (1981)|
Halloween is a 1978 American independent slasher film set in the fictional suburban midwestern town of Haddonfield, Illinois, on Halloween. The original draft of the screenplay was titled The Babysitter Murders. John Carpenter directed the film, which stars Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis, Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, and Nick Castle, Tony Moran and Tommy Lee Wallace sharing the role of Michael Myers (listed in the credits as "The Shape"). The central theme of the film is Myers' escape from a psychiatric hospital and his subsequent murder of a number of teenagers, whilst Dr. Loomis's attempts to track and stop him. Halloween is widely regarded as a classic among horror films, and as one of the most influential horror films of its era. In 2006 it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". Halloween was produced on a budget of $320,000 and grossed $60 million at the box office in the United States, equivalent to over $150 million as of 2008, becoming one of the most profitable independent films. Many critics credit the film as the first in a long line of slasher films inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960). The movie originated many clichés found in low-budget horror films of the 1980s and 1990s. However, the film contains little graphic violence and gore.
On October 31, 1963, Halloween Night in the quiet community of Haddonfield, Illinois, six-year old Michael Myers (Will Sandin) watches through the windows of the Myers House-spying on his older sister Judith(Sandy Johnson) making out with her boyfriend. The couple retreat upstairs to make love, and Michael enters the house, grabs a butcher knife and waits for the boyfriend to leave. Michael then goes upstairs and brutally stabs his sister to death. He then runs out of the house where he meets his parents in the yard-they discover their six year old son; who has just killed his sister-covered in blood.
Michael is admitted to the Smith's Grove Sanitarium and placed under the care of Dr. Samuel Loomis(Donald Pleasance), a resident psychiatrist. But 15 years later, on October 30, 1978, Michael breaks out of the asylum, steals a government-owned car, murders a truck driver for his clothes and makes his way to his hometown of Haddonfield. Dr. Loomis sets off to track him down.
The next day, on Halloween in Haddonfield, teenager Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is making her way to school. She meets up with Tommy Doyle(Brian Andrews), a boy who Laurie plans to babysit that night. On the way, Laurie runs an errand for her dad and drops off a key at the old Myers House-which is now desolate and dilapadated-despite Tommy's warnings of the house being haunted. During school, Laurie sees Michael-now donning a white mask and a dark blue jumpsuit-staring at her from across the street out of the school window. After school, Laurie walks home with her two friends, Annie Brackett (Nancy Kyes), a rebellious and sarcastic teenager-the sherriff's daughter and Lynda Van Der Klok (P.J. Soles), a blond cheerleader. They chat about their plans for tonight-and Laurie sees Michael inside the government car cruising by the girls and she catches him watching her from behind a row of hedges. Annie is skeptical and teases Laurie for babysitting so much and not having a date-claiming she is hallucinating guys she is so lonely. Laurie, Lynda and Annie reach their own houses as evening begins to fall.
Later that night, Annie and Laurie drive together to their babysitting jobs. Dr. Loomis arrives in Haddonfield and discovers Michael has stolen his sister Judith's grave from the cemetery. He also joins forces with the Sherriff, Sherriff Brackett (Charles Cyphers) Annie's father and they both begin searching the town for Michael. Annie and Laurie arrive at the houses- Laurie is babysitting Tommy and Annie is babysitting a girl named Lindsay Wallace across the street. Michael has followed the girls and proceeds to stalk Annie-watching her through the windows. The night progresses, as Loomis and Brackett search Michael's old house and Annie gets locked in the laundry room when trying to wash a shirt she spilled butter on. Annie gets a call from her boyfriend Paul (voiced by John Carpenter himself) and decides to go pick Paul up. Annie takes Lindsay (Kyle Richards) over to Tommy's house with Laurie and returns to the Wallace House. When she gets in the car to leave, Michael ambushes Annie from the backseat and strangles her, before slitting her throat with a butcher knife. Back at the Doyle House, Tommy witnesses Michael carrying Annie's dead corpse into the Wallace House, and he tries to tell Laurie, but she dismisses it and sends Tommy and Lindsay to bed.
Soon after, Lynda and her boyfriend Bob (John Michael Graham) arrive at the dark and empty Wallace House planning on surprising and scaring Annie. Upon entrance, they find Annie and Lindsay not there, so they go upstairs and have sex. Afterwards, Bob goes downstairs to get a beer and is grabbed by Michael, slammed against the wall, and stabbed through the chest with a butcher knife-pinning him to the wall. Michael then dons a sheet and Bob's glasses and goes upstairs into the bedroom with Lynda. Lynda-believing it is Bob-jokes with him for a second-and then gets irritated. She tries to call Laurie and just as Laurie picks up, Michael wraps the phone cord around Lynda's neck and strangles her to death. Laurie hears Lynda's gasps and squeals-and feeling unsettled-Laurie makes sure the kids are asleep and goes over to the Wallace House to investigate.
She enters through the patio doors and searches the house-finding it dark and empty. She goes into an upstairs bedroom-where she finds her three friends mutilated corpses-Annie is sprawled on the bed, Judith's tombstone at her head-Bob is dangling upside down in the doorway of the bathroom and Lynda has been stuffed into a closet. Horrified, Laurie stumbles out into the hallway in tears-when Michael lunges out of the darkness and stabs her in the shoulder with the knife. Laurie falls off the balcony of the stairs, hurting her leg. Michael then chases the injured Laurie through the dark house into the kitchen, where Laurie escapes through the kitchen doors and runs back to the Doyle House. She gets into the house, sends Tommy and Lindsay upstairs, and cowers in the living room. Michael gains entry to the house and attacks Laurie again, but she retaliates and stabs him in the neck with a crochet needle. She then goes upstairs to console the frightened kids, but Michael appears again and the kids hide in the bathroom and Laurie hides in a closet. Michael breaks through the closet doors and grabs at Laurie. Laurie quickly grabs a clothes hanger and jabs it into Michael's eye. He drops his knife, prompting Laurie to grab it and plunge it into his chest. With Michael presumably dead, Laurie sends the kids to get help which attracts Dr. Loomis. He runs upstairs just in the nick of time, and shoots Michael just as he is strangling Laurie. Loomis shoots Michael six times until he falls off a second-story balcony.
But seconds later, when Loomis looks over the balcony, Michael is gone.
After viewing Carpenter's film Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) at the Milan Film Festival, independent film producer Irwin Yablans and financier Moustapha Akkad sought out Carpenter to direct a film for them about a psychotic killer that stalked babysitters. In an interview with Fangoria magazine, Yablans stated, "I was thinking what would make sense in the horror genre, and what I wanted to do was make a picture that had the same impact as The Exorcist." Carpenter and his then-girlfriend Debra Hill began drafting a story originally titled The Babysitter Murders, but Carpenter told Entertainment Weekly that Yablans suggested setting the movie on Halloween night and naming it Halloween instead. Akkad fronted the $320,000 for the film's budget, considered low at the time (even though Carpenter's previous film, Assault on Precinct 13, had an estimated budget of $100,000). Akkad worried over the tight, four-week schedule, low budget, and Carpenter's limited experience as a filmmaker, but told Fangoria, "Two things made me decide. One, Carpenter told me the story verbally and in a suspenseful way, almost frame for frame. Second, he told me he didn't want to take any fees, and that showed he had confidence in the project". Carpenter received $10,000 for directing, writing, and composing the music, retaining rights to 10 percent of the film's profits.
Because of the low budget, wardrobe and props were often crafted from items on hand or that could be purchased inexpensively. Carpenter hired Tommy Lee Wallace as production designer, art director, location scout and co-editor. Wallace created the trademark mask worn by Michael Myers throughout the film from a Captain Kirk mask purchased for $1.98. Carpenter recalled how Wallace "widened the eye holes and spray-painted the flesh a bluish white. In the script it said Michael Myers' mask had 'the pale features of a human face' and it truly was spooky looking. It didn't look anything like William Shatner after Tommy got through with it." Hill adds that the "idea was to make him almost humorless, faceless — this sort of pale visage that could resemble a human or not." Many of the actors wore their own clothes, and Curtis' wardrobe was purchased at J.C. Penney for around a hundred dollars.
The limited budget also dictated the filming location and time schedule. Halloween was filmed in 21 days in the spring of 1978 in South Pasadena, California and Sierra Madre, California (cemetery). An abandoned house owned by a church stood in as the Myers house. Two homes on Orange Grove Avenue (near Sunset Boulevard) in Hollywood were used for the film's climax. The crew had difficulty finding pumpkins in the spring, and artificial fall leaves had to be reused for multiple scenes. Local families dressed their children in Halloween costumes for trick-or-treat scenes.
In August 2006, Fangoria reported that Synapse Films had discovered boxes of negatives containing footage cut from the film. One was labeled "1981" suggesting that it was additional footage for the television version of the film. Synapse owner Don May, Jr. said, "What we've got is pretty much all the unused original camera negative from Carpenter's original Halloween. Luckily, Billy [Kirkus] was able to find this material before it was destroyed. The story on how we got the negative is a long one, but we'll save it for when we're able to showcase the materials in some way. Kirkus should be commended for pretty much saving the Holy Grail of horror films." It was later reported, "We just learned from Sean Clark, long time Halloween genius, that the footage found is just that: footage. There is no sound in any of the reels so far, since none of it was used in the final edit.
Yablans and Akkad ceded most of the creative control to writers Carpenter and Hill (whom Carpenter wanted as producer), but Yablans did offer several suggestions. According to a Fangoria interview with Hill, "Yablans wanted the script written like a radio show, with 'boos' every 10 minutes." Hill explained that the script took three weeks to write and much of the inspiration behind the plot came from Celtic traditions of Halloween such as the festival of Samhain. Although Samhain is not mentioned in the plot of the first film, Hill asserts that:
"the idea was that you couldn't kill evil, and that was how we came about the story. We went back to the old idea of Samhain, that Halloween was the night where all the souls are let out to wreak havoc on the living, and then came up with the story about the most evil kid who ever lived. And when John came up with this fable of a town with a dark secret of someone who once lived there, and now that evil has come back, that's what made Halloween work."
Hill wrote most of the female characters' dialogue, while Carpenter drafted Loomis' speeches on the evilness of Michael Myers. Many script details were drawn from Carpenter's and Hill's adolescence and early careers. The fictional town of Haddonfield, Illinois was derived from Haddonfield, New Jersey, where Hill grew up, and most of the street names were taken from Carpenter's hometown of Bowling Green, Kentucky. Laurie Strode was the name of one of Carpenter's old girlfriends and Michael Myers was the name of an English producer who had previously entered, with Yablans, Assault on Precinct 13 in various European film festivals. In Halloween, Carpenter pays homage to Alfred Hitchcock with two characters' names; Tommy Doyle is named after Lt. Det. Thomas J. Doyle (Wendell Corey) of Rear Window (1954), and Dr. Loomis' name was taken from Sam Loomis (John Gavin) of Psycho, the boyfriend of Marion Crane (Janet Leigh). Sheriff Leigh Brackett shared the name of a film screenwriter.
The cast of Halloween included veteran actor Donald Pleasence and then-unknown actress Jamie Lee Curtis. The low budget limited the number of big names that Carpenter could attract, and most of the actors received very little compensation for their roles. Pleasence was paid the highest amount at $20,000, Curtis received $8,000, and Nick Castle earned $25 a day.
The role of Dr. Sam Loomis was offered to Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee; both declined the part due to the low pay (though Lee would later tell Carpenter that declining the role was his biggest career mistake). English actor Pleasence — Carpenter's third choice — agreed to star. Pleasence has been called "John Carpenter's big landing." Americans were already acquainted with Pleasence as the villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice (1967).
In an interview, Carpenter admits that "Jamie Lee wasn't the first choice for Laurie. I had no idea who she was. She was 19 and in a TV show at the time, but I didn't watch TV." He originally wanted to cast Anne Lockhart, the daughter of June Lockhart from Lassie, as Laurie Strode. However, Lockhart had commitments to several other film and television projects. Hill says of learning that Jamie Lee was the daughter of Psycho actress Janet Leigh, "I knew casting Jamie Lee would be great publicity for the film because her mother was in Psycho." Halloween was Curtis' feature film debut and launched her career as a "scream queen" horror star.
Another relatively unknown actress, Nancy Kyes (credited in the film as Nancy Loomis) was cast as Laurie's promiscuous friend Annie Brackett, daughter of Haddonfield sheriff Leigh Brackett (Charles Cyphers). Kyes had previously starred in Assault on Precinct 13 (as had Cyphers) and happened to be dating Halloween's art director Tommy Lee Wallace when filming began. Carpenter chose P. J. Soles to play Lynda Van Der Klok, another promiscuous friend of Laurie's, best remembered in the film for dialogue peppered with the word "totally." Soles was an actress known for her supporting role in Carrie (1976) and her minor part in The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976). According to one source, "Carpenter realized she had captured the aura of a happy go lucky teenage girl in the 70s."
The role of "The Shape" — as the masked Michael Myers character was billed in the end credits — was played by Nick Castle, who befriended Carpenter while they attended the University of Southern California. After Halloween, Castle became a director, taking the helm of films such as The Last Starfighter (1984), The Boy Who Could Fly (1986), Dennis the Menace (1993) and Major Payne (1995).
Historian Nicholas Rogers notes that film critics contend that Carpenter's direction and camera work made Halloween a "resounding success". Roger Ebert remarks, "It's easy to create violence on the screen, but it's hard to do it well. Carpenter is uncannily skilled, for example, at the use of foregrounds in his compositions, and everyone who likes thrillers knows that foregrounds are crucial ...."
The opening title, featuring a jack-o'-lantern placed against a black backdrop, sets the mood for the entire movie. The camera slowly moves toward the jack-o'-lantern's left eye as the main title theme plays eerily. After the camera fully closes in, the jack-o'-lantern's light dims and goes out. Film historian J.P. Telotte says that this scene "clearly announces that [the film's] primary concern will be with the way in which we see ourselves and others and the consequences that often attend our usual manner of perception". During the conception of the plot, Yablans instructed "that the audience shouldn't see anything. It should be what they thought they saw that frightens them". Carpenter seemingly took Yablans' advice literally, filming many of the scenes from Michael Myers' point-of-view that allowed audience participation. Carpenter is not the first director to employ this method or use of a steadicam; for instance, the first scene of Psycho offers a voyeuristic look at lovers in a seedy hotel. Telotte argues, "As a result of this shift in perspective from a disembodied, narrative camera to an actual character's eye ... we are forced into a deeper sense of participation in the ensuing action". Along with the 1974 Canadian horror film Black Christmas, Halloween made use of seeing events through the killer's eyes.
The first scene of the young Michael's voyeurism is followed by the murder of Judith Myers seen through the eye holes of Michael's clown costume mask. According to one commentator, Carpenter's "frequent use of the unmounted first-person camera to represent the killer's point of view ... invited [viewers] to adopt the murderer's assaultive gaze and to hear his heavy breathing and plodding footsteps as he stalked his prey". Another technique that Carpenter adapted from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) and Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) was suspense with minimal blood and gore. Hill comments, "We didn't want it to be gory. We wanted it to be like a jack-in-the box." Film analysts refer to this as the "false startle" or "the old tap-on-the-shoulder routine" in which the stalkers, murderers, or monsters "lunge into our field of vision or creep up on a person."
Carpenter worked with the cast to create the desired effect of terror and suspense. According to Curtis, Carpenter created a "fear meter" because the film was shot out-of-sequence and she was not sure what her character's level of terror should be in certain scenes. "Here's about a 7, here's about a 6, and the scene we're going to shoot tonight is about a 9 1/2", remembered Curtis. She had different facial expressions and scream volumes for each level on the meter.
Another major reason for the success of Halloween is the moody musical score, particularly the main theme. Lacking a symphonic soundtrack, the film's score consists of a piano melody played in a 5/4 meter composed by director John Carpenter. Critic James Berardinelli calls the score "relatively simple and unsophisticated", but admits that "Halloween's music is one of its strongest assets". Carpenter stated in an interview, "I can play just about any keyboard, but I can't read or write a note." In the end credits, Carpenter bills himself as the "Bowling Green Philharmonic Orchestra" for performing the film's score, but he did receive assistance from composer Dan Wyman, a music professor at San José State University.
Some songs can be heard in the film, one being an untitled song performed by Carpenter and a group of his friends who formed a band called The Coupe DeVilles. The song is heard as Laurie steps into Annie's car on her way to babysit Tommy Doyle. Another song, "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" by classic rock band Blue Öyster Cult, appears in the film.
The soundtrack was first released in the United States in October 1983, by Varese Sarabande. It was subsequently released on compact disc in 1985, re-released in 1990, and again in 2000.
Release and distribution
Halloween premiered on October 25, 1978 in Kansas City (whether Kansas City, Missouri or Kansas City, Kansas, is unclear) and sometime afterward in Chicago, Illinois, and in New York City. It opened in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on November 22, 1978.
Although it performed well with little advertising — relying mostly on word-of-mouth — many critics seemed uninterested or dismissive of the film. The first glowing review by a prominent film critic came from Tom Allen of The Village Voice in November 1978, Allen noted that the film was sociologically irrelevant but applauded Carpenter's camera work as "duplicitous hype" and "the most honest way to make a good schlock film". Allen pointed out the stylistic similarities to Psycho and George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968). The following month, Voice lead critic Andrew Sarris wrote a follow-up feature on cult films, citing Allen's appraisal of Halloween and saying in the lead sentence that the film "bids fair to become the cult discovery of 1978. Audiences have been heard screaming at its horrifying climaxes".
Following Allen's laudatory essay, other critics took notice. Renowned American critic Roger Ebert gave the film similar praise in his 1979 review in the Chicago Sun-Times, and selected it as one of his top five films of 1978. Once-dismissive critics were impressed by Carpenter's choice of camera angles and simple music, and surprised by the lack of blood, gore, and graphic violence.
The film grossed $47 million in the United States and an additional $8 million internationally, making the theatrical total around $55 million, equivalent to over $176 million today. While most of the film's success came from American movie-goers, Halloween premiered in several international locations after 1979 with moderate results. The film was shown mostly in the European countries of France, the United Kingdom, West Germany, Italy, Sweden, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Yugoslavia, and Iceland. Admissions in West Germany totaled around 750,000 and 118,606 in Sweden, earning SEK 2,298,579 there. The film was also shown at theaters in Canada, Australia, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, Peru, the Philippines, Argentina and Chile. Halloween grossed AU$900,000 in Australia, which was a large and impressive amount of money for a film to gross at the box office in Australia at the time, and HKD 450,139 in Hong Kong.
The film received a mostly positive critical response at the time of its initial release, and as of 2009 Halloween has maintained a rating of 93 percent "fresh" at Rotten Tomatoes. Still, Pauline Kael wrote a scathing review in The New Yorker suggesting that "Carpenter doesn't seem to have had any life outside the movies: one can trace almost every idea on the screen to directors such as Hitchcock and Brian De Palma and to the Val Lewton productions" and claiming that "Maybe when a horror film is stripped of everything but dumb scariness — when it isn't ashamed to revive the stalest device of the genre (the escaped lunatic) — it satisfies part of the audience in a more basic, childish way than sophisticated horror pictures do."
However, Tom Allen in the November 6, 1978 issue of the New York City weekly The Village Voice wrote that "...John Carpenter's Halloween, alone in the last decade stands with George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead and, before that, with Psycho..." and "... accurate parallels to Halloween would be the frisson of the final jump in Wait Until Dark, the ominous trompe-l'oeil sentinels of The Innocents, and the zany cinematic control of Mario Bava in Black Sunday. Put them all together with memories of Night of the Living Dead and Psycho and you have Halloween, the trickiest thriller of the year". The film ranks 461st on Empire magazine's list of the 500 greatest movies.
Many compared the film with the work of Alfred Hitchcock, although TV Guide calls comparisons made to Psycho "silly and groundless" and critics in the late 1980s and early 1990s blame the film for spawning the slasher sub genre, which they felt had rapidly descended into sadism and misogyny. Almost a decade after its premiere, Mick Martin and Marsha Porter critiqued the first-person camera shots that earlier film reviewers had praised and later slasher-film directors utilized for their own films (for example, Friday the 13th (1980). Claiming it encouraged audience identification with the killer, Martin and Porter pointed to the way "the camera moves in on the screaming, pleading, victim, 'looks down' at the knife, and then plunges it into chest, ear, or eyeball. Now that's sick."
Many criticisms of Halloween and other slasher films come from postmodern academia. Some feminist critics, according to historian Nicholas Rogers, "have seen the slasher movies since Halloween as debasing women in as decisive a manner as hard-core pornography." Critics such as John Kenneth Muir point out that female characters such as Laurie Strode survive not because of "any good planning" or their own resourcefulness, but sheer luck. Although she manages to repel the killer several times, in the end, Strode is rescued in Halloween and Halloween II only when Dr. Loomis arrives to shoot Myers.
On the other hand, other feminist scholars such as Carol J. Clover argue that despite the violence against women, slasher films turned women into heroines. In many pre-Halloween horror films, women are depicted as helpless victims and are not safe until they are rescued by a strong masculine hero. Despite the fact that Loomis saves Strode, Clover asserts that Halloween initiates the role of the "final girl" who ultimately triumphs in the end. Strode herself fought back against Myers and severely wounds him. Had Myers been a normal man, Strode's attacks would have killed him; even Loomis, the male hero of the story, who shoots Michael repeatedly at near point blank range with a large caliber handgun, cannot kill him.
Other critics have seen a deeper social critique present in Halloween and subsequent slasher films. According to Vera Dika, the films of the 1980s spoke to the conservative family values advocates of Reagan America. Tony Williams says Myers and other slashers were "patriarchal avengers" who "slaughtered the youthful children of the 1960s generation, especially when they engaged in illicit activities involving sex and drugs." Other critics tend to downplay this interpretation, arguing that the portrayal of Myers as a demonic, superhuman monster inhibited his influence among conservatives.
Carpenter himself dismisses the notion that Halloween is a morality play, regarding it as merely a horror movie. According to Carpenter, critics "completely missed the point there." He explains, "The one girl who is the most sexually uptight just keeps stabbing this guy with a long knife. She's the most sexually frustrated. She's the one that's killed him. Not because she's a virgin but because all that sexually repressed energy starts coming out. She uses all those phallic symbols on the guy."
Halloween was nominated for a Saturn Award by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films for Best Horror Film in 1979, but lost to The Wicker Man (1973). In 2001, Halloween ranked #68 on the American Film Institute TV program 100 Years...100 Thrills. The film was #14 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments (2004). In 2006, Halloween was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". In 2007, the AOL 31 Days of Horror countdown named Halloween the greatest horror movie
Halloween had a huge impact on horror films to follow. Although a Canadian horror film directed by Bob Clark titled Black Christmas (1974) preempted the stylistic techniques made famous in Halloween, the latter is generally credited by film historians and critics for initiating the slasher film craze of the 1980s and 1990s. (First-person camera perspectives, unexceptional settings, and female heroines define the slasher film genre). Riding the wave of success generated by Halloween, several films that were already in production when the film premiered, but with similar stylistic elements and themes, became popular with audiences. The Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street films, and countless other slasher films, owe some of their success (if not inspiration) to Halloween, while Halloween owes some of its inspiration to Black Christmas.
The unintended theme of "survival of the virgins" seen in Halloween became a trope that surfaced in other slasher films. Characters in subsequent horror films who practice illicit sex and substance abuse generally meet a gruesome end at the hands of the killer. On the other hand, characters portrayed as chaste and temperate tend to confront and defeat the killer in the end. The 1981 horror movie spoof Student Bodies was the first mainstream film to mock this plot device; the killer's victims are invariably slain when about to have sex. Director Wes Craven's Scream (1996) details the "rules" for surviving a horror movie using Halloween as the primary example: no sex, no alcohol or illicit drugs, and never say "I'll be right back". Keenen Ivory Wayans's horror movie parody Scary Movie (2000) likewise lampoons this slasher-film trope.
Since Halloween's premiere, it has been released on VHS, laserdisc, DVD, UMD and Blu-ray HD format. In its first year of release on VHS, the film earned $18,500,000 in the United States from rentals. Early VHS versions were released by Media Home Entertainment and Blockbuster Video issued a commemorative edition in 1995. Anchor Bay Entertainment has released several restored editions of Halloween on VHS and DVD, with the most recent being the 2007 single-disc restored version, with improved picture and sound quality. In 2007, the movie was released on Blu-ray as well, marking the film's first ever Blu-ray release. While this DVD version is restored and an improvement over previous DVD editions, many people prefer the 2003 two-disc Divimax 25th Anniversary edition over the 2007 restored DVD due to the fact that there are many more bonus features on that version. The 2 disc edition came with a shining foil cover and a commentary track including separately recorded contributions by Carpenter, Hill and Curtis plus the documentary Halloween: A Cut Above the Rest.
Several versions of Halloween exist today. The original 87-minute version is the most widely known and seen. A modified television version released in 1980 that aired on NBC runs for 103 minutes and features re-shoot scenes not included in the initial 1978 cut. This edition was released in 2001 on DVD as Halloween: Extended Edition. In 1998, for the 20th anniversary of the film's release, new sound effects were added to the film's audio track with Carpenter’s approval. Both versions were released on VHS and DVD.
Television rights to Halloween were sold to NBC in 1980 for $4 million. After a debate among Carpenter, Hill and NBC's Standards & Practices over censoring of certain scenes, Halloween appeared on television for the first time. To fill the two-hour time slot, Carpenter filmed twelve minutes of additional material that include Dr. Loomis at a hospital board review of Myers and Dr. Loomis talking to 6-year-old Michael at Smith's Grove, telling him, "You've fooled them, haven't you Michael? But not me." Another extra scene features Dr. Loomis at Smith's Grove examining Michael's abandoned cell and seeing the word "Sister" scratched into the door. Finally, a scene was added in which Lynda comes over to Laurie's house to borrow a silk blouse before Laurie leaves to babysit, just as Annie telephones asking to borrow the same blouse.
The new scene had Laurie's hair hidden by a towel, since Curtis was by then wearing a much shorter hairstyle than she had worn in 1978. The new scenes were shot during production of Halloween II. An extended cut of the television version was released on DVD by Anchor Bay Entertainment in 2001 as Halloween: Extended Edition, which was identical to the second disc from the 1999 limited edition DVD.
Shortly following Halloween's release in theaters, a mass market paperback novelization by Curtis Richards was published by Bantam Books in 1979 and reissued in 1982; it later went out of print. The novel elaborates on aspects not featured in the film such as the origins of the curse of Samhain and Michael Myers' life in Smith's Grove Sanitarium. For example, the opening reads:
"The horror started on the eve of Samhain, in a foggy vale in northern Ireland, at the dawn of the Celtic race. And once started, it trod the earth forevermore, wreaking its savagery suddenly, swiftly, and with incredible ferocity."
In 1983, Halloween was adapted as a video game for the Atari 2600 by Wizard Video. None of the main characters in the game were named. Players take on the role of a teenage babysitter who tries to save as many children from an unnamed, knife-wielding killer as possible. The game was not popular with parents or players and the graphics were simple, as was typical in Atari 2600 games. In another effort to save money, most versions of the game did not even have a label on the cartridge. It was simply a piece of tape with "Halloween" written in marker. The game contained more gore than the film, however. When the babysitter is killed, her head disappears and is replaced by blood pulsating from the neck. The game's primary similarity to the film is the theme music that plays when the killer appears onscreen.
Halloween spawned seven sequels, a 2007 remake — titled Halloween and directed by Rob Zombie — and a 2009 sequel to the remake, Halloween II, which is unrelated to the sequel to the original. Of these films, only Halloween II (1981) was written by Carpenter and Hill. Halloween II begins exactly where Halloween ends and was intended to finish the story of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode. Halloween II was hugely successful, becoming the highest grossing horror film of 1981. Carpenter did not direct any of the subsequent films in the Halloween series, although he did produce Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), the plot of which is unrelated to the other films in the series. He also composed the music for the second and third films, along with Alan Howarth.
The sequels feature more explicit violence and gore, and are generally dismissed by mainstream film critics. They were filmed on larger budgets than the original: In contrast to Halloween's modest budget of $320,000, Halloween II's budget was around $2.5 million, while the final sequel to the original, Halloween: Resurrection (2002), boasted a budget of $15 million. Financier Moustapha Akkad continued to work closely with the Halloween franchise, acting as executive producer of every sequel until his death in the 2005 Amman bombings.
With the exception of Halloween III, the sequels further develop the character of Michael Myers and the Samhain theme. Even without considering the third film, the Halloween series contains continuity issues, which some sources attribute to the different writers and directors involved in each film. The 10 Halloween films, including the 2007 remake and its sequel, have had eight directors. Only Rick Rosenthal and Rob Zombie directed more than one Halloween film: Rosenthal directed Halloween II and Halloween: Resurrection, while Zombie directed the remake and its sequel.
- Michael Myers
- Laurie Strode
- Dr. Sam Loomis
- Lynda Van Der Klok
- Annie Brackett
- Leigh Brackett
- Tommy Doyle
- Lindsey Wallace
- Bob Simms
- Judith Myers
- Peter Myers
- Mechanic killed by Michael Myers