John Carpenter had just filmed and annotated two almost obscure features when executive producer Irwin Yablans approached him with a proposal: to make a low-budget film about the murder of nannies. "It was a horrible idea," Carpenter said in a recent telephone interview. "But I wanted to make more movies, so I said: & # 39; Great! & # 39;
Forty years later, that movie, "Halloween", continues to generate sequels, remakes and restarts. The latter, also titled "Halloween" and opening on October 19, brings back Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), the only survivor of the initial uproar of masked psychopath Michael Myers. Now, a grandmother with guns, is bent on killing the seemingly immortal Myers. "What really excites me about coming back all these years later is the deep love and respect of the fans," Curtis said. "The passion for this movie is very powerful."
Mr. Carpenter, Ms. Curtis, four of his co-stars and others talked about their memories of making the original movie. "It's the best experience I've had professionally," said Curtis. "He gave me everything in my creative life."
These are edited extracts of the conversation.
Along with producer Debra Hill, his girlfriend, Mr. Carpenter wrote the script, setting the action on the titular holiday after Mr. Yablans suggested changing the title of the movie from "The Babysitter Murders" to "Halloween." .. "
JOHN CARPENTER He was very intelligent. I can not believe that nobody else has called his movie "Halloween" before. I told Irwin that I wanted a final cut and my name on top of the title. For me it was important to have control over my own movie. He said: "Yes, of course."
For the key role of Laurie, Mr. Carpenter chose Mrs. Curtis, the daughter of Janet Leigh, 19, star of Alfred Hitchcock's seminal film "Psycho." Several years before, the producers of "El Exorcista" considered casting. Mrs. Curtis as the child possessed Regan, but Mrs. Leigh would not allow it. (The paper was for Linda Blair.)
JAMIE LEE CURTIS My mother was protecting me from being a kid in the movie business. Later, I participated in the ABC comedy "Operation Petticoat". They fired me and I was devastated. If I had not been fired, I would not have been available for the "Halloween". As my Jewish family would say, it was bashert, as was supposed. I did not think twice that it was a horror movie, and my mother had been in a horror movie.
CARPENTER That was pretty obvious, I was not stupid. But the reason I cast her is because I could play this innocent and repressed child, and she had a spark of intelligence about her. This was her first film, so I called her after the first day of filming. She needed that.
CURTIS When the phone rang in my house the first night and my roommate told me it was John, I thought I had been fired. As soon as I picked up the phone, I heard John say in his sweet southern voice, "Darlin," I just wanted to tell you how wonderful it was today. "That has never happened to me since then.
Mr. Carpenter recruited Nick Castle, a former student of the film school at the University of Southern California, to play Michael.
Nick castle I said, "I would like to be on the set while you are directing because it will demystify the experience for me." John said: "Great, let's have a man walking with a mask." Why do not you do it? "It was as simple as that.
CARPENTER Nick's father was a choreographer, and Nick has grace in his movements. I would say: "Nick, come here and … action!" That's what I needed it for, and he was perfect for that.
CASTLE It was not necessary to go to Juilliard to do this, but people seem to like the moves I made. I was mud in Juan's hands.
Production designer Tommy Lee Wallace went to Bert Wheeler's magic shop on Hollywood Boulevard to buy a mask for Michael. He returned with two: a clown mask and one of William Shatner as Captain Kirk in "Star Trek".
CASTLE Tommy came in with the clown mask and we said, "Oh, that's a little scary." Then he put on Shatner's mask, we stopped and said: "It's perfect."
CARPENTER Tommy had painted him in white spray and cut the larger eyelets. It was chilling. It is strange to have a human face. I went to see William Shatner at a convention and said, "Hi, I'm John Carpenter." He was on his cell phone and never looked up.
WILLIAM SHATNER I do not remember that. I'd love to meet you. He is a very talented man.
CARPENTER That is so [expletive]!
SHATNER I thought it would be fun once if I took my own children to cheat or try and put on the mask. If they did not give my children a treat, I took off my mask.
To lend the movie "gravitas", Carpenter chose the esteemed British actor Donald Pleasence ("The Great Escape") as Michael's psychiatrist, Loomis.
CARPENTER At first I was terrified because he said, "I do not know why I'm doing this movie, the only reason is that my daughter liked the music you wrote in your other movie," Assault on Precinct 13 ". . But we became friends quickly.
One of Laurie's child-care allegations, Lindsey, was interpreted by Kyle Richards, a veteran child actor who grew up to become a star of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills".
KYLE RICHARDS People joke and say, "What's more scary: shoot at 'Real Housewives' or 'Halloween' and I say, 'It's hard for me to answer'. I was very afraid to look at myself in that movie, after seeing it, I had to sleep with my mother until I was 15 years old.
Working with a budget of $ 300,000, everyone had to collaborate. The cast members helped Mr. Carpenter decorate the game. The film was shot in Southern California in spring, but the sheets were hand painted to look like October in Haddonfield, Illinois, where the film was established.
CARPENTER We were kids and we wanted to be in the movie business. There was not much ego involved. Everyone worked together, and it was fun. You do not have much fun in movies.
NANCY LOOMIS (Nanny Annie) John knew what he wanted technically because he understood the medium. There was no reflection. It was simply: "Let's go out and make this movie, and let's have fun."
CARPENTER My job, simple and simple, was to scare the audience. I did not need to be anything more than that. The movie was an exciting journey.
Nowhere was Mr Carpenter's dominance more evident than at the opening of the film, a single take of five minutes From the killer's point of view. He filmed it with a new camera, the Panaglide, which gave the hand scenes a softness never seen before.
CARPENTER The first shot was a bragging thing, when you think of classic movies that have long recordings like "Touch of Evil" and "Scarface". It was a challenge, and that's why it was exciting.
CURTIS That was the last day of filming. Because it was such a limited budget, there were moments in the opening shot where the electricians were in another room as soon as the camera passed them to light another corner. It was very exciting to see him.
CARPENTER The Panaglide had a movement that was unique. The camera swung from side to side, and added something really strange and creepy.
He also contributed to the impact of the film his incredibly effective score, composed by Mr. Carpenter and accredited to the Bowling Green Philharmonic Orchestra. (The director had attended Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky).
CARPENTER I only had three days to write it, and the main title was a piano riff in my father who taught me 5/4 times in the bongos when I was 13 years old. I thought it was unusual. I sat down at the piano, called my father and played him. It is a very simple score. The Bowling Green Philharmonic Orchestra was me and the US synthesizer teacher. UU., A very nice man named Dan Wyman. We did not have money, that's how you make a low budget movie.
LOOMIS The first time I saw the movie, it was a rough cut without the music, and I thought, "Oh, this is so forgettable." Then I went to a screening when the score was finished, and I was surprised how scary it was. the film was
The film initially attracted negative reviews and started slowly at the box office.
CARPENTER In the first round of revisions, I felt really bad as a director.
CURTIS That It was not a great success at first. I did not get any work from her, apart from an episode of "The Love Boat" where I played my mother's daughter. It was humiliating, but at the same time, it was a concert.
But "Halloween" became a word of mouth success and finally won praise from influential critics such as Roger Ebert, who gave him four stars. and compared it to "psycho".
CURTIS I remember seeing him in Hollywood, and in the middle of the movie, when Laurie walks down the street to the house where the character of PJ Soles has just been strangled, this woman stood up and shouted: "Do not go in there". ! "In that second, I understood exactly what Juan intended. The audience cared about Laurie.
CARPENTER He was delighted when critics began to praise him.
The film ended up establishing the careers of Mr. Carpenter and Mrs. Curtis.
CARPENTER He made my career. It caught my attention and associated me with horror movies. It brought me work from then on.
CURTIS The stars fell on me, and I do not know why. I'm almost 60 years old and I'm sitting in a tower with a bodyguard outside my room talking to The New York Times.
"Halloween" became the most successful independent film at the time of its release, raising nearly $ 50 million nationally (approximately $ 180 million in today's dollars). However, it also inspired a backlash among some feminist critics, who pointed out that the virgin Laurie survives while his promiscuous friends are murdered.
P.J. SUNS (Nanny Lynda) That criticism is ridiculous. I mean, totally ridiculous!
LOOMIS The film is a very good example of where the patriarchy was at that point. The fact that John said it was not intentional is really the point. It was the norm.
CARPENTER The biggest mistake of my life was getting a prize at a women's film festival and they booed me. I deserved it, I suppose.
CURTIS The film has generated many Ph.D.s, and that's great because we need more people to think about.
In another sense, the film advanced feminism as it established Mrs. Hill (who died at age 54 in 2005) as a pioneer writer-producer and an influential advocate of equality.
LOOMIS Debra was quite avant-garde. She opened a lot of new land, and is known to have helped many women access positions that were not otherwise available to them.
RICHARDS When I was a girl, seeing a woman in a powerful position stood out before me. I remember thinking, "Wow, this woman is one of the leaders."
SOLAS Debra really was an inspiration and it was John who undoubtedly encouraged his forward momentum.
CURTIS She was a great partner for John, but it was more than that. She was the voice of the three women in the movie. I became very, very close to Debra, and I miss her terribly.
Although Michael Myers escapes at the end of the original "Halloween", there were no plans for sequels or remakes, much less 10, including the 2018 version.
CURTIS It did not start as a franchise. No one involved with the film anticipated that their own industry would grow.
CARPENTER The disappearance of Michael at the end of the first movie leaves you breathless, and he wanted to leave the audience in that way. I did not want any sequel. Boy, I was wrong, huh?