- The original script was titled The Babysitter Murders, and had the events take place over the space of several days. It was a budgetary decision to change the script to have everything happen on the same day as doing this reduced the number of costume changes and locations required. Producer Irwin Yablans came up with the idea of having the film take place on Halloween, and from there, everything fell into place for John Carpenter and Debra Hill.
- The Halloween theme is written in the rare 5/4 time signature. John Carpenter learned this rhythm from his father, and composed the theme in just four days. He credits himself as the Bowling Green Philharmonic Orchestra for the film’s score.
- John Carpenter had approached Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee to play the role of Dr. Sam Loomis. Cushing turned down the offer due to film’s low pay, while Lee’s agent had demands that couldn’t get met due to Lee’s success in Star Wars. Lee later would have a run-in with John Carpenter, where he would tell Carpenter that turning down the rule was the biggest mistake he had ever made in his career.
- Half of the film’s initial $300,000 budget was spent on the Panavision cameras so the film would have the cinematic 2.35:1 scope.
- Though he would later be known as the “Godfather of Halloween” owing to his involvement in the franchise up to his death, Moustapha Akkad originally had no interest in funding the film. It was only the enthusiasm that John Carpenter & Irwin Yablans had for the project, as well as John Carpenter’s claims that he could make a film for just $300,000 (at that point in time, Akkad was producing a film with daily production costs nearing $300,000), that convinced him to finance the film.
- As a result of the film being filmed in the spring, pumpkins were hard to come by. Squashes were pointed to look like pumpkins for most scenes in the movie, as only two pumpkins were used for the film. The first was in the scene where Tommy trips and smashes his pumpkin; naturally a squash wouldn’t have been usable for this scene.
- The car that Michael steals from Smith’s Grove Sanitarium and later drives to Haddonfield is a 1978 Ford LTD wagon. Production designer Tommy Lee Wallace was tasked with finding a car that could believably pass for a government vehicle; he found that one at a rental agency and rented it for two weeks.
- To achieve the shot of Michael Myers strangling Lester, the trainer on set simply held the dog in his arms and dropped him naturally. It was then filmed in slow motion to achieve the killing effect.
- Though both would receive residuals from the film, John Carpenter was only paid $10,000 to write, direct and score the film, while Debra Hill worked for a percentage of the profits.
- Of the three female leads, Jamie Lee Curtis is the only one who was actually a teenager at the time of production; Nancy Kyes, who played Annie, was 29. Coincidentally, Danielle Harris was also also 29 when she played Annie Brackett in the film’s 2007 remake.
- As Halloween was her first motion picture and she’d had little experience prior, Jamie Lee Curtis was upset with her performance on the first day of production and was convinced she was going to be fired. John Carpenter called her after she went home and complimented her on a day well done.
- Though he’s in just eighteen minutes of the film, as the most well-known actor in the cast at the time, Donald Pleasance received top billing. He was only paid $20,000 for his work, and was on set for five days. His salary was not originally budgeted during the initial meetings with Akkad; as a result, Halloween‘s budget went from $300,000 to $325,000 to accomodate his casting.
- All of the actors wore their own clothes, since there was no money for a costume department. Jamie Lee Curtis went to J.C. Penny before production began for Laurie Strode‘s wardrobe, and spent less than $100 for the entire set.
- Jamie Lee Curtis was paid $8,000 for her part in the film.
- The adult Michael Myers was played by six different people during the film, despite only Nick Castle, Tony Moran and Jim Winburn receiving credit for their respective portrayals. Nick Castle portrayed him most of the time, as well as in the earlier scenes of him unmasked and stealing the car; Tony Moran portrayed him when he was unmasked by Laurie in the film’s final scene, as John Carpenter wanted for Michael to have a young, angelic face; Jim Winburn performed the stunt of Michael falling off the balcony at the end of the film, and once more at the beginning of its follow-up; Tommy Lee Wallace portrayed Michael during any action scenes (as the production designer, he was the most knowledgable on how much force would be required to break certain props); Debra Hill portrayed him in certain wide shots, particularly in the ones of Tommy seeing him on the Wallace residence’s front porch; and John Carpenter also additionally served as a stand-in when needed.
- Though Halloween popularized the horror movie trope of a “final girl,” John Carpenter himself dismisses the notion that Halloween is a morality play and sees it merely as a horror film. Both he and Debra Hill have stated many times over the years that they did not consciously set out to depict virginity as a way of defeating a rampaging killer. The reason why the horny teens all die is simply that they are so preoccupied that they don’t notice that there is a killer at large. On the other hand, Laurie Strode just happens to be more aware of her surroundings.
- As the film was shot out of sequence, John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis created a “fear meter” so that she would know what level of terror Laurie should be exhibiting in certain scenes.
- John Carpenter’s intent with the character of Michael Myers was that the audience should never be able to relate to him, something that the sequels gradually moved away from.
- The stabbing sound effect is actually a knife stabbing a watermelon.
- The shooting script had Dr. Loomis calling his wife, rather than Haddonfield. Donald Pleasence opposed, saying he thought the character shouldn’t have a family or a past. John Carpenter and Debra Hill quickly agreed.
- According to Don Post Jr., the filmmakers originally approached his firm about custom making an original mask for use in the film. The filmmakers explained that they could not afford the numerous costs involved in creating a mask from scratch, but would offer Post points in the movie as payment for his services. Post declined their offer, as he received many such proposals from numerous unknown filmmakers all the time. Had he accepted the offer, he and the company would’ve made millions.
- Post’s company would later develop the masks that were used in Halloween III: Season of the Witch, and currently offers a consumer-friendly mask replication of the original film’s mask for stores.
- Though Debra Hill and John Carpenter were business partners before Halloween, the two of them were a couple during the film’s production and amicably broke up in 1979. They remained close friends and business partners afterward.
- Dr. Loomis’ personal car in the movie is a 1977 BMW 320i [E21], and his gun is Smith & Wesson model 15 combat masterpiece .38.