When Halloween’s broadcast rights were sold to NBC in 1981, the network’s Standards and Practices Department demanded numerous edits to the original film. Although producer Debra Hill personally debated these cuts, it became necessary to create additional scenes to fill the movie’s two-hour television running time.
Using the crew of Halloween II as well as stars Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence, director John Carpenter commenced a three-day shoot of all-new scenes and alternate footage that was then added to the original feature. Those scenes would see the light of the day on October 30, 1981, when Halloween made its network television debut on NBC.
List of Differences
- In the film’s iconic opening scene, the cut-outs for the clown mask six-year-old Michael Myers puts on have been shrunken slightly, to mask the brief nudity shown during Judith Myers’ death scene.
- Immediately following the opening scene, the film instead skips ahead a few months to May 1, 1964. Dr. Loomis is discussing Michael with two of his colleagues; he naturally disagrees with the conclusion that has been reached on Michael’s care.
- He then immediately goes to visit Michael and utters, “You’ve fooled them, haven’t you, Michael? But not me.”
- The film continues as normal for the next few scenes, until the addition of a newly filmed scene. Dr. Loomis speaks with two nurses at Smiths Grove Sanitarium about Michael’s escape. We learn a few more details about how Michael escaped, before Loomis is shown the word SISTER carved into the door. He leaves, and the next scene is of him talking with Dr. Wynn.
- Michael and Laurie weren’t related in the first Halloween; this was a plot point added to the sequel. As part of the newly filmed scenes, they took the opportunity to help connect the two films together more fluidly.
- When Laurie, Annie and Lynda are walking home from school, Laurie’s uttering of “shit” is muted.
- Following Laurie’s phone call with Annie (after she briefly sees The Shape outside her bedroom window), we get an additional scene of the three interacting. Laurie is fresh out of the shower when Lynda shows up, claiming someone is following her. Annie phones in, and the three discuss their plans for the evening. Lynda also talks Laurie into letting her borrow her blouse for the evening (the same blouse that Lynda tells Bob not to rip later in the film.)
- As these scenes were filmed alongside Halloween II‘s production, Jamie Lee Curtis’ haircut was not the one she had for the original. While she wore a wig in the sequel, this scene shows Laurie Strode with a towel wrapped around her head.
- Laurie and Annie are smoking a cigarette rather than a joint during the car ride.
- Annie’s death scene is cut short. Michael begins to strangle her, and then it cuts away. We miss the shots of him pulling his knife out, as well as Annie’s death and her head sliding on the car’s horn.
- Likewise, Bob’s death scene is missing the shot of Michael stabbing him, and the far shot of Michael admiring his work. This unfortunately means the well-known and frequently referenced “head tilt” is gone as well.
- Lynda’s death scene is mostly intact, but shortened as well. As there was originally nudity in some of the shots, they have been removed.
- When Laurie discovers her friends’ bodies, an alternate shot is used when she sees Lynda. Jamie Lee Curtis’ scream is different, and P.J. Soles was positioned in a slightly different position as well.
Home Video Releases
On June 21, 1986, Tohokushinsha Home Video released a laserdisc in Japan of the film’s television cut. It featured non-removable Japanese subtitles.
The television cut was made available, albeit very briefly, on VHS in 1989. Media Entertainment, the distributor for the film at the time, accidentally pressed a release using the film’s television master rather than the theatrical’s. While the mistake was discovered early enough to correct, there were enough copies released and sold to make the issue well known. (While no known numbers exist, I have seen estimates anywhere from 500 to 5000.) Copies of this release occasionally pop up on auction sites such as eBay, and tend to fetch a premium.
Scenes that were filmed for the television cut were later edited into the theatrical cut for Anchor Bay’s Extended Edition, which saw a release in both 1999 and 2001.
Shout Factory would later release a feature-packed 4K UHD edition of the film on October 5, 2021. This release would feature both the extended edition and the broadcast television cut on the third disc. The television cut likely came from the master tape used for the Media VHS release, though there has been no confirmation on its source.