“He’s gonna get you! He’s gonna get you! The Bogey Man is coming!”
It was 35 years ago in 1978, on Halloween that terror was unleashed on the small, quiet town of Haddonfield, IL. It was completely unexpected and seemingly out of nowhere, that a psychotic killer was on the loose and wreaking havoc on middle American teenagers. As costumed children were trick or treating and getting their bags filled with candy, murders were taking place in their neighbor’s homes as they passed by. The killer? The Bogey Man, aka Michael Myers.
That is the premise for John Carpenter’s Halloween. One of the most iconic horror films of all time, Halloween is considered by most to be the father of the slasher genre (“Psycho” is the grandfather). It was the “Saw” of its day and both defined and kick started the genre that WAS the horror trend of the 1980s. The Slasher flick.
Consider this, without Halloween, there would be no Jason Vorhees, or Freddy Kruger, nor any of the countless other nameless slasher villains from the 80s. And without the first Halloween, there wouldn’t be the 7 sequels nor the Rob Zombie rebooting of the franchise.
Though the body count is low compared to other clichéd franchises in the genre (there are only 5 murders in the entire film and only four of the five are on screen), and modern torture-horror, Halloween more than made up for it in its unique mix of terror, suspense and artistic film making. It is so odd now to think of a film, which was rated R by the MPAA upon release, actually told a tale of horror without using blood and gore. Most of the violence takes place in the shadows, keeping the acts more of a mystery to the audience’s eyes, or is implied in the editing and music ques. Outside of a few minor curse words and a couple of intentional, playful nip-slips, it’s practically ready for network TV.
The killer himself remains shrouded in shadows and mystery the entire film as well. Yes, we do see a young Michael at the age of 10 at the beginning of the movie, but for the remainder of the film, which takes place 15 years later, as an adult, he is just ‘the shape’, as he’s referred to in the credits. The darkness is part of his disguise. He remains human, however, and never becomes something otherworldly or a resurrected killer zombie, which makes him even more of a monster.
I can’t remember a time before Halloween. The movie very much defines the holiday for me. It came out when I was 2 years old and I watch it several times a year because it is one of my favorite films of all time, if not my favorite film of all time. Because of this, in my head, Halloween season, the entire month of October, will always feel like 70s era film. Everything grainy, low-fi, fuzzy and muffled. Slightly warped, cinematic images meant to fit in the square white borders of a Polaroid instead of stretching across the letterbox of a movie theater widescreen.
Check out the original 1978 trailer below and you will see what I mean:
Being the movie location junky I am, and huge fan of the original film, I decided to make a trek to Haddonfield, which is actually South Pasadena and Hollywood, CA for the anniversary, visit a few of the famous movie locations and see where that quiet Anywhere USA suburb is 35 years after the Bogey Man came home:
The film opens on the Myers family home, Halloween 1963, and what happens inside is nearly incomprehensible. A 6 year old boy murders his older sister, who is babysitting him, in her bedroom with a butcher knife. Interesting note: according to the film’s timeline, Michael Myers would turn 56 years old this year!
The current owners of the house are very aware their house is famous and leave fake pumpkins on the front porch all year long for fan photo ops. Just be sure to return them when you’re done taking pictures.
One of the most iconic horror movies scenes, and probably the most famous location in the movie: The Hedge House. As the girls are walking home from school, we see an ominous Michael Myers watching, stalking them from behind a hedge.
A bit of useless movie trivia, though it’s not really featured in the film, the house that PJ Soles character, Lynda lives in and walks up to as the girls are walking towards the Hedge House was also the house used for the Mama’s Family intro in the 80s and two doors down from the hedge house.
The final stop on this virtual tour is the murder houses where the actual deaths take place in the film:
The Doyle house where Laurie is babysitting Tommy Doyle, watching horror movies and carving jackolanterns, as well as the balcony that Michael Myers falls from after being shot by Dr Loomis at the end.
The Wallace house where Laurie’s friend, Annie, is babysitting little Lindsey Wallace (played by future Housewives of Beverly hills star and aunt of Paris Hilton, Kyle Richards). This is the house where most of the action and the murders of Laurie’s three friends take place.
What I find interesting about the location of the murder houses is that they are located about a block and a half from busy Sunset Blvd. You can see the metro bus in the background of the photo passing by.
10 Facts about John Carpenter’s Halloween:
1) The mask used in the film is actually a Captain Kirk mask that the prop department painted white, opened up the eye holes, and teased the hair.
2) Dr. Loomis’s (played by Donald Pleasence) name in the film is borrowed from a lover of Janet Leigh’s in Psycho.
3) The original title of the film was “The Babysitter Murders”
4) The film takes place primarily in fictitious Haddonfield, IL. The name was borrowed from producer Debra Hill’s hometown, Haddonfield, NJ.
5) John Carpenter wrote the part of Lynda for her, after seeing PJ Soles in Carrie.
6) The score was composed by John Carpenter in 4 days.
7) When the film was first aired on television, the crew had to shoot extra scenes in order for the film to fit into a time slot. They shot the extra scenes at the same time Halloween II was being filmed.
8) The film was actually shot in the spring in southern California. So the crew had to carry around a bag of dried leaves and spread them for outdoor scenes to give a fall look.
9) According to the new scenes shot for television, Michael Myer’s middle name is Audrey.
10) Until The Blair Witch was released in 1999, Halloween was the top grossing independent film of all time. It was made for $325,000 and took in $47 million at the box office.