King Kong released April 7, 1933

king kong 1933

King Kong is a film co-directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, and written by Ruth Rose and James Ashmore Creelman after a story by Cooper and Edgar Wallace. The film tells of a gigantic island-dwelling gorilla-like creature called Kong who dies in an attempt to possess a beautiful young woman. The film stars Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong and Bruce Cabot, and opened in New York City on March 2, 1933 to good reviews. Kong is distinguished for its stop-motion animation and its musical score. The film has been released to video and DVD, and has been computer colorized. In 1991, the film was deemed “culturally, historically and aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

Trivia:

  • The models of King Kong built for the island scenes were only 18 inches high. When producer/director Merian C. Cooper decided Kong needed to look bigger while in New York, a new 24-inch armature was constructed, thus changing Kong’s film height from 18 feet on the island to 24 feet while in New York.
  • Body count: 40.
  • Special effects genius Willis H. O’Brien, who earlier used stop-motion animation of dinosaur models in The Lost World (1925), had created several dinosaur models for his unfinished production Creation (1931). Producer Merian C. Cooper sold the idea for King Kong (1933) to RKO executives in New York by showing them a test sequence using O’Brien’s models. The executives were stunned, never having seen anything like it, and green-lighted production of King Kong (1933) . O’Brien also used many of his “Creation” models in King Kong (1933) , including the T-Rex and the pteranodon (giant bird).
  • The project went through numerous title changes during production, including “The Beast” (original title of draft by Edgar Wallace in RKO files), “The Eighth Wonder”, “The Ape”, “King Ape” and “Kong”.
  • Both Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack had been wrestlers, and they acted out the fighting moves for the battle between the T-Rex and Kong in the effects studio, before the animators shot the scene.
  • This film was successfully reissued worldwide numerous times. In the 1938 reissue, several scenes of excessive violence and sex were cut to comply with the Production Code enforced in 1934. Though many of the censored scenes were restored by Janus Films in 1971 (including the censored sequence in which Kong peels off Fay Wray’s clothes), one deleted scene has never been found, shown publicly only once during a preview screening in San Bernardino, California in January 1933. It was a graphic scene following Kong shaking four sailors off the log bridge, causing them to fall into a ravine where they were eaten alive by giant spiders. At the preview screening, audience members screamed and either left the theatre or talked about the grisly sequence throughout the subsequent scenes, disrupting the film. Said the film’s producer, Merian C. Cooper, “It stopped the picture cold, so the next day back at the studio, I took it out myself.”
  • Originally, there was supposed to be an overhead shot of Kong falling from the Empire State Building. This was accomplished by adding Kong in post-production, falling towards the ground. Real footage of the building was used, but when the producers watched the scene they realized that viewers could see through Kong, especially as he passed the darker ledges, so it was cut. This clip has made its way into documentaries on the film but, more commonly, can be found in stills of the scene.
  • The trees and plants in the background on the stop-motion animation sets were a combination of metal models and real plants. One day during filming, a flower on the miniature set bloomed without anyone noticing. The error in continuity was not noticed until the film was developed and shown. While Kong moved, a time-lapse effect showed the flower coming into full bloom, and an entire day of animation was lost.
  • King Kong’s roar was a lion’s and a tiger’s roar combined and run backwards.
  • Close-ups of the pilots and gunners of the planes that attack Kong were shot in the studio with mock-up planes. The flight commander is director Merian C. Cooper and his observer is producer Ernest B. Schoedsack. They decided to play the parts after Cooper said that “we should kill the sonofabitch ourselves”.
  • Scenes cut over the years of release and re-release: Kong chewing on the natives of Skull Island; two scenes with Kong squashing one native each with his giant foot; the brontosaurus biting and throwing the men in the water; Kong putting a New Yorker in his mouth then throwing him down to the ground; a scene where Kong climbs a building, pulls out a sleeping woman with his giant hand, examines her, and when he finds it’s not Ann Darrow, tosses her down to the sidewalk below; and, of course, Fay Wray’s clothing being peeled off. The censor committee once stated that this was at least six minutes of editing. These scenes were all restored to the actual film in 1971. Of course, we still have yet to see the famous spider pit sequence, although in the 2005 remake, we get an idea of what it was like. Also, the 2005 DVD release of the 1933 film has Peter Jackson’s recreation of that scene.
  • Grossed $90,000 its opening weekend, the biggest opening ever at the time.
  • For the shots of the airplanes taking off from the strip, the pilots were paid US$10 each.
  • The native village huts were left over from RKO’s Bird of Paradise (1932). The Great Wall was part of the Temple of Jerusalem set for Cecil B. DeMille’s Biblical epic The King of Kings (1927). The Great Wall set was later reused in Selznick’s The Garden of Allah (1936) and finally redressed with Civil War era building fronts, burned and pulled down by a tractor to film the burning of Atlanta munitions warehouses in Gone with the Wind (1939).
  • The success of this film is often credited for saving RKO from bankruptcy.
  • Kong’s “official” height (from the posters) is 50 feet. He was closer to 19 feet tall in the jungle and close to 25 feet when in New York City.
  • The whole idea allegedly originated when co-director/co-producer Merian C. Cooper had a dream about a massive gorilla attacking New York City.
  • Was voted the 47th Greatest Film of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
  • Edgar Wallace died in Hollywood in February 1932 while working on the story for this film.
  • There was more than one model of Kong used in the film. There are considerable differences between the Kong on Skull Island and the Kong in New York. For instance, the Skull Island Kong has a longer face, which the filmmakers thought made the ape look “too human”.
  • In his review in The New York Times (3 March 1933), film critic Mordaunt Hall incorrectly refers to Fay Wray’s character as “Ann Redman”.
  • Jean Harlow refused the lead part.
  • The laserdisc edition of the film includes the first ever audio commentary.
  • Merian C. Cooper was partially inspired by W. Douglas Burden, who brought the world’s first captive Komodo dragons to the Bronx Zoo in 1926. Cooper was intrigued how the once mythic, massive predators quickly perished once caged and displayed for the public.
  • As a child, Merian C. Cooper lived close to an elevated train which kept him awake at night when it clattered across the tracks. This was the inspiration for the scene where Kong destroys an elevated train.
  • The two-legged lizard that attacks Jack Driscoll was actually meant to be an aetosaur, a reptile from the Triassic Period. However, because of the high price of armatures (the metal skeletons for the puppets), RKO cut costs by not having hind legs made for it. As a result, the aetosaur has two forearms, no hind legs and a snakelike appearance.
  • Fay Wray claimed that she personally insisted that her character be a blond, and personally chose her wig at the Max Factor shop in Los Angeles.
  • Sensing a huge hit from industry buzz, MGM offered to buy the film outright from RKO for $1.072m (some $400,000 over its negative cost), figuring the little studio was reeling from losing $10+m in 1932. RKO was smart to decline the offer. The film smashed attendance records nationwide and ended up grossing $1.761m during its initial release. RKO would periodically, and extremely profitably, re-release the movie through the 1950s.
  • Jungle scenes were filmed on the same set as the jungle scenes in The Most Dangerous Game (1932), which also happened to star Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong.
  • Art drawn for the press book associated for the original release of the film was contributed to by actor Keye Luke, who was a highly regarded illustrator before he became an actor and whose works have appeared in films themselves, such as The Shanghai Gesture (1941).
  • The 2005 DVD restoration further details the risqué liberties of a 1933 pre-code film release in two scenes. The first is when Ann is on the ship’s deck while Charlie is peeling potatoes, and the second is where Denham is shooting some test footage of Ann (“Scream for your life, Ann, Scream!”). The thin material used for Ann’s dress and gown in both scenes makes it obvious that Fay Wray is not wearing a bra; a wardrobe decision that may not have made it past the Breen Code the following year.
  • Executive Producer David O. Selznick left RKO midway through production of this film. But Selznick’s last act of business at RKO – and probably his biggest contribution to the film – was to write a memo changing the name of the production from ‘Kong’ to King Kong (1933).
  • According to the book “David O. Selznick’s Hollywood” by Ron Haver, costume designer Walter Plunkett (later noteworthy for Gone with the Wind (1939)) worked uncredited on this film. Specifically, he designed the “Beauty and the Beast” costume that Ann Darrow wears while Carl Denham is filming her screen test.
  • Ranked #4 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 10 greatest films in the genre “Fantasy” in June 2008.
  • To keep in line with the use of most of the cast from The Most Dangerous Game (1932) the role of Jack Driscoll was intended for Joel McCrea. According to Fay Wray however, McCrea’s agents demanded more money so the role was given to Bruce Cabot.
  • It has been said that King Kong (1933) was the first Hollywood film to use a fully symphonic musical score. As memorable and effective as the musical score was, some have made the same claim about RKO’s Bird of Paradise (1932), released earlier. (Perhaps that claim should be revised to “the first memorable film…”) Regardless, Max Steiner, composer for both films (and many later classics, including Gone with the Wind (1939) and Casablanca (1942)) was a visionary, forward thinking man.
  • The character of Carl Denham was inspired by the film’s director, Merian C. Cooper. They both died on the same day.
  • When describing Kong to Fay Wray, Merian C. Cooper said “you’ll have the tallest darkest leading man in Hollywood”. She thought it was Cary Grant.
  • Premiered at the famed Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
  • The 56-cm-high model of King Kong used in the film sold at auction in 2009 for about $203,000 (US). It was originally covered in cotton, rubber, liquid latex, and rabbit fur, but most of the covering has decomposed over the decades.
  • Film debut (uncredited) of Bill Williams.

Robert Altman Birthday February 20, 1925

robert altman

Robert Altman

Robert Bernard Altman (February 20, 1925 – November 20, 2006) was an American film director known for making films that are highly naturalistic, but with a stylized perspective. In 2006, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized his body of work with an Academy Honorary Award.

His films MASH and Nashville have been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

Trivia:

He came up with a scheme to “Identi-Code” pets. He would tattoo a number on the cat or dog. Somehow, he managed to tattoo President Harry S. Truman’s dog.

He designed a watch called “Time to Reflect” for Swatch in 1995 to commemorate the centenary of the birth of cinema.

His son, Mike Altman, wrote the lyrics for “Suicide is Painless,” the theme song for MASH (1970), when he was only 14 years old.

Stepdaughter, Konni Corriere (with Reed), born 1946.

Son, Robert Reed Altman, with Kathryn Reed, was born in 1960.

Son, Matthew R. Altman was adopted at birth in 1966.

Son, Stephen Altman, with Lotus Corelli, was born in 1957.

Son, Mike Altman, with Lotus Corelli, was born in 1955.

Daughter, Christine Altman, with LaVonne Elmer, was born in 1947.

Was voted the 17th Greatest Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly.

Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. “World Film Directors, Volume Two, 1945-1985″. Pages 29-39. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1988.

Worked with (the late) Vic Morrow on the TV series “Combat!” (1962), with Vic’s daughter, Jennifer Jason Leigh in several films including Short Cuts (1993), and with Vic’s ex-wife (and Jennifer’s mother) Barbara Turner on The Company (2003).

Like the late Richard Hooker, author of the book MASH (on which his film was based), Altman greatly disliked the TV series that followed and said that it didn’t make the same anti-war point that his film made.

Directed 6 different actresses in Oscar-nominated performances: Sally Kellerman, Julie Christie, Ronee Blakley, Lily Tomlin, Helen Mirren and Maggie Smith.

Close friends with actress Julie Christie.

While working on McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), he and Warren Beatty hated each other so much that Beatty later admitted that, had he produced the film himself, he would have killed Altman.

He is a member of the NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) Advisory Board.

In the recent past, the New York Film Critics Circle Awards (founded in 1935) were second in prestige only to the Academy Awards (and some actors and filmmakers such as double Oscar-winner Glenda Jackson considered it a superior honor) and were a major influence on subsequent Oscar nominations. The Golden Globe Awards, which were plagued by scandals related to its small, unrepresentative voting body and to self-dealing with subsequent awardees, had been forced off the air by the Federal Communications Commission and were regarded as something of a joke by more serious cinephiles. During the 1976 presidential election year, Robert Altman’s masterpiece Nashville (1975) won Best Picture and Supporting Actress (Lily Tomlin), and Altman was named the top director by the NYFCC. All failed to repeat at the Academy Awards (though Keith Carradine won an Oscar for Best Song.) Altman — discussing Nashville (1975)’s loss of the Best Picture Oscar to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) earlier that year — characterized the NYFCC Awards as the ‘New York primary’ leading up to the Oscar ‘election’. Continuing with the metaphor in his August 1976 Interview with Bruce Williamson in “PLAYBOY Magazine” (Vol. 23, Iss. 8), Altman said that “Cuckoo’s Nest” had had an inside advantage as it had won the ‘California primary’ (the Golden Globes). At the time, the Golden Globes, though a joke in terms of their integrity, were still a potent predictor of eventual Oscar success (and would come to be the second-most important bellwether of the Academy Awards by the 1980s and ’90s).

Made his London theatrical debut in early 2006 directing Arthur Miller’s play “Resurrection Blues” at the Old Vic under the aegis of Kevin Spacey, the Artistic Directory of the venerable London company. Altman chose an eclectic cast for he Miller play featured, including ‘Maxmillian Schell’ (qc), ‘James Fox’ (who replaced John Wood before previews), and American movie actors Matthew Modine and Jane Adams. The English critics panned “Resurrection Blues”, partly due to the clash in acting styles of the disparate cast. Adams walked out after a matinée on April 5, 2006, and was replaced by her understudy for subsequent performances. No explanation was given for her departure from the production. The play was scheduled to close a week early in mid-April due to poor ticket sales. Altman claimed after the poor debut of the play that he was not very familiar with the script, and didn’t really understand the play. Critics said that his confusion obviously affected the cast, many of whom seemed not to understand the play, and some of whom seemed to have trouble remembering lines. While not an outright debacle, the play is another relative failure characterizing Spacey’s troubled tenure as Old Vic chief.

Upon receiving an honorary Oscar at the 2006 Academy Awards, Altman revealed that he had been the recipient of a heart transplant approximately 10 years prior, and hadn’t gone public out of fear that it would hinder his ability to get work.

His episodes of “Bonanza” (1959) often starred the Hoss character played by Dan Blocker and frequently were humorous.

When directing episodes of the TV show “Bonanza” (1959), Altman became close friends with actor Dan Blocker, who portrayed Hoss. Altman wanted Blocker to play the Roger Wade character in his version of Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye (1973), but he died before the commencement of shooting. The movie was dedicated to Blocker.

It is said that Altman, a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II, was radicalized by a trip to Vietnam to shoot footage of the war in the 1960s. He has never talked about this episode in his life and career.

Helped Shelley Duvall and Gary Chason begin their careers by giving them jobs on Brewster McCloud (1970).

Member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Directors Branch).

Paul Thomas Anderson was employed as a standby director for A Prairie Home Companion (2006) for insurance purposes, and in the event that ailing 80-year-old Altman was unable to finish shooting.

Has twice used a blonde woman in a white trench coat to symbolize death: Sally Kellerman in Brewster McCloud (1970) and Virginia Madsen in A Prairie Home Companion (2006).

He was made a Fellow of the British Film Institute, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to film culture.

Profiled in “Conversations with Directors: An Anthology of Interviews from Literature/Film Quarterly”, E.M. Walker, D.T. Johnson, eds. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2008.

Is the only director to win first prize at the three major European film festivals: he won the Palm D’Ore at the Cannes Film Festival for MASH in 1970, the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival for Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson in 1976 and Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for Short Cuts in 1993.

Directed both Susannah York and Shelley Duvall to the Best Actress Award at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. York winning for her role as Cathryn in Images (1972), and Duvall for her portrayal of Millie Lammoreaux in 3 Women (1977).

7th voyage of sinbad cyclops

Cyclops from 7th Voyage of Sinbad 1958

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad is a 1958 Technicolor fantasy film released by Columbia Pictures, directed by Nathan H. Juran, and was the first of three Sinbad films made by Columbia which were conceptualized and animated by Ray Harryhausen (the others being The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger).

Sinbad DVD Collection

Get the Sinbad Collection on DVD here!

While similarly named, the film does not follow the plot of the tale “The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor.”

In 2008, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Cast:

Kerwin Mathews … Sinbad
Kathryn Grant … Princess Parisa
Richard Eyer … Barani – the Genie
Torin Thatcher … Sokurah the Magician
Alec Mango … Caliph
Danny Green … Karim
Harold Kasket … Sultan
Alfred Brown … Harufa
Nana de Herrera … Sadi
Nino Falanga … Gaunt Sailor
Luis Guedes … Crewman
Virgilio Teixeira … Ali

Trivia:

  • A soundtrack album of Bernard Herrmann’s score was released on Colpix, Columbia’s record label. In later years it would become one of the most sought-after albums by soundtrack collectors. It was finally released on CD, along with the full score, in 2009.
  • Alfred Brown is dubbed.
  • This was the first feature using stop-motion animation effects to be completely shot in color.
  • Initially, Ray Harryhausen wanted Miklós Rózsa or Max Steiner to score The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), but Charles H. Schneer persuaded Harryhausen to agree to hire Bernard Herrmann instead. Herrmann’s score was so well received, and he worked so well with Schneer and Harryhausen, he ended up scoring three more of their films: The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (1960), Mysterious Island (1961), and Jason and the Argonauts (1963). Harryhausen eventually got his wish, however, when Miklós Rózsa scored The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1974).

seventh_voyage_of_sinbad

The Terminator released October 26, 1984

The Terminator (1984)

The Terminator (1984)

The Terminator is a 1984 science fiction action film directed and co-written by James Cameron and distributed by the independent film studio Orion Pictures. It features Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator, Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor and Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese. The film was followed by three sequels. The franchise has evolved to include video games and a television series.

Tagline:  The thing that won’t die, in the nightmare that won’t end.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJZzt5wlFxg]

The film takes place in 1984, introducing the concept of a “terminator”, specifically the titular character (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a seemingly unstoppable cyborg assassin who has been sent back from the year 2029 by a collective of artificially intelligent computer-controlled machines bent on the extermination of the human race. The Terminator’s mission is to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) whose future son, John Connor, leads a resistance against the machines. A human, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), is also sent back from the future by John Connor himself to protect her.

In 2008, The Terminator was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

terminator

GoreMaster.com

Halloween released October 25, 1978

halloween Jamie Lee Curtis

Halloween is a 1978 American independent horror film set in the fictional suburban midwestern town of Haddonfield, Illinois, USA 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 film centers on Myers’ escape from a psychiatric hospital, his murdering of teenagers, and Dr. Loomis’ 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”.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQ-gGq-v4-4]

Halloween was produced on a budget of $320,000 and grossed $47 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.

Critics have suggested that Halloween and its slasher film successors may encourage sadism and misogyny. Others have suggested the film is a social critique of the immorality of young people in 1970s America, pointing out that many of Myers’ victims are sexually promiscuous substance abusers, while the lone heroine is depicted as chaste and innocent (although she is seen smoking a joint). While Carpenter dismisses such analyses, the perceived parallel between the characters’ moral strengths and their likelihood of surviving to the film’s conclusion has nevertheless become a standard slasher movie trope.

Trivia:

  • There are numerous references in John Carpenter’s movies, particularly in this film, that are taken from the area surrounding the town he grew up in – Bowling Green, KY. The performance of the film’s musical score is credited to “The Bowling Green Philharmonic.” There is no Philharmonic in Bowling Green. The “orchestra” is actually Carpenter and assorted musical friends. In one scene the subtitle depicts the location as “Smiths Grove, IL.” Smiths Grove is actually a small town of about 600 people located 15 miles north of Bowling Green on I-65. There are also numerous references in Halloween to street names that are major roads in the greater Bowling Green area.
  • As the movie was actually shot in early spring in southern California (as opposed to Illinois in late October), the crew had to buy paper leaves from a decorator and paint them in the desired autumn colors, then scatter them in the filming locations. To save money, after a scene was filmed, the leaves were collected and reused. However, as Jamie Lee Curtis and John Carpenter note on the DVD audio commentary, the trees are quite full and green and even some palm trees can be seen, despite that in Illinois in October, the leaves would probably be mostly gone and there would be no palm trees.
  • Jamie Lee Curtis’ first feature film.
  • Due to its shoestring budget, the prop department had to use the cheapest mask that they could find in the costume store: a Captain Kirk (William Shatner) mask. They later spray-painted the face white, teased out the hair, and reshaped the eye holes.
  • The kids watch the opening of The Thing from Another World (1951) on TV. Carpenter would later re-make this film himself in 1982 as The Thing (1982).
  • Halloween was shot in 21 days in April of 1978. Made on a budget of $320,000, it became the highest-grossing independent movie ever made at that time.
  • According to screenwriter/producer Debra Hill, the character of Laurie Strode was named after John Carpenter’s first girlfriend.
  • Tommy Doyle’s name was from Rear Window (1954) and Sam Loomis’ name is from Psycho (1960).
  • Inside Laurie’s bedroom there is a poster of a painting by James Ensor (1860-1949). Ensor was a Belgian expressionist painter who used to portray human figures wearing grotesque masks.
  • The film takes place primarily in Haddonfield, Illinois. Haddonfield, NJ is the home town of screenwriter Debra Hill.
  • The performance of Halloween’s musical score is credited to “The Bowling Green Philharmonic”. There is no Philharmonic in Bowling Green. The “orchestra” is actually John Carpenter and assorted musical friends.
  • All of the actors wore their own clothes, since there was no money for a costume department. Jamie Lee Curtis went to J.C. Penney for Laurie Strode’s wardrobe. She spent less than a hundred dollars for the entire set. She shot the film while on hiatus from the sitcom Operation Petticoat (1977) (TV).
  • The character of Michael Myers was named after the European distributor of Carpenter’s previous film, Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) as a kind of weird “thank you” for the film’s overseas success.
  • Tommy’s Halloween costume is an Alphan uniform from “Space: 1999″ (1975).

the_shape

  • The opening shot appears to be a single, tracking, point of view shot, but there are actually three cuts. The first when the mask goes on, and the second and third after the murder has taken place and the shape is exiting the room. This was done to make the point of view appear to move faster.
  • The name of the sheriff is “Leigh Brackett”. Leigh Brackett was also the name of the screenwriter of Howard Hawks’ classic Rio Bravo (1959), which was the inspiration for John Carpenter’s previous film, Assault on Precinct 13 (1976).
  • Kyle Richards, who plays Lindsey Wallace, is the sister of Kim Richards, who appeared in John Carpenter’s previous film, Assault on Precinct 13 (1976).
  • Half of the $320,000 budget was spent on the Panavison cameras so the film would have a 2:35:1 scope. Donald Pleasence was paid $20,000 for 5 days work.
  • Carpenter approached Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee to play the Sam Loomis role (that was eventually played by Donald Pleasence) but both turned him down. Lee later said it was it was the biggest mistake he ever made in his career.
  • Morgan Strode’s black Fleetwood (seen in the driveway when he is talking to Laurie early in the movie) belonged to director John Carpenter, while the Phelps Garage truck was owned by the company that catered for the film.
  • Anne Lockhart was John Carpenter’s first choice for the role of Laurie Strode.
  • None of the big studios at the time was interested in distributing the movie, so executive producer Irwin Yablans decided to distribute the film via his own company (Compass International). MCA/Universal produced and distributed the next two sequels in the early ’80s.
  • Aside from dialogue, the script cites Michael Myers by name only twice. In the opening scene, he is called a POV until he is revealed at age 6. From the rest of the script on out he is referred to as a “shape” until Laurie rips his mask off in the final scene (which he never reapplies in the script). “The Shape”, as credited in the film, refers to when his face is masked or obscured.
  • P.J. Soles was dating Dennis Quaid at the time of filming, so John Carpenter and Debra Hill wanted to cast him in the role of Bob. Unfortunately, Quaid was busy working on another project and John Michael Graham was cast in the role instead.
  • John Carpenter provides the voice of Annie’s boyfriend, Paul, whom we hear on the phone talking to Annie.
  • The original script, titled “The Babysitter Murders”, 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 (doing this reduced the number of costume changes and locations required) and it was decided that Halloween, the scariest night of the year, was the perfect night for this to happen.
  • When they were shooting the scenes for the start of the film (all the ones seen from Michael’s point of view) they couldn’t get the 6-year old child actor until the last day, so the movie’s producer, Debra Hill, volunteered to be Michael for any scenes where his hands come into view. This is why the nails on young Michael’s hands look so well manicured and varnished.
  • The cinematography for the Halloween sequence in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) was the inspiration for the look of Carpenter’s color scheme.
  • Donald Pleasence did all of his scenes in only 5 days of shooting.
  • When Dr. Loomis is talking to the doctors in the empty classroom, Dr. Loomis is sitting in seat #37.
  • Sheriff Brackett was named after film-noir writer Leigh Brackett.
  • According to Don Post Jr., President of Don Post Studios, the famous California mask making company, 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, but suggested that they repaint/refurbish the “Captain Kirk” masks eventually used in the film, which eventually was done, and which netted Mr. Post a profit of less than $100. Post later estimated, after the film became a hit, that if he had accepted the original offer for points in the film in exchange for his creation of an original mask, his profit would have run well over $100,000.
  • Yul Brynner’s robot character from Westworld (1973) was the inspiration for the character of Michael Myers.
  • The song that is playing on the radio when Laurie and Annie are in the car is “Don’t Fear The Reaper” by Blue Öyster Cult.
  • This was voted the fifth scariest film of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
  • The “Myers” house was a locale found in South Pasadena that was largely the decrepit, abandoned place seen in the majority of the film. However, as the house had to look ordinary (and furnished) for the early scenes with the young Michael Myers, almost the whole cast and crew worked together to clean the place, move in furniture, put up wallpaper, and set up running water and electricity, and then take it all out when they were through.
  • Much credit for the concept must go to its producer Irwin Yablans, who had the concept originally for a horror film called “The Babysitter Murders”. Upon further research, Yablans discovered to his surprise that no previous film had been titled “Halloween” and thought it would be a great concept to set these “babysitter murders” on the holiday. With these ideas, Yablans convinced an excited John Carpenter to write and direct a film around them.
  • The wealthy film producer Moustapha Akkad had admittedly little interest in this film and helped make it primarily due to the enthusiasm of John Carpenter and Irwin Yablans. However, when the film turned out to be a huge box-office smash, Akkad saw an opportunity and has since facilitated every ‘Halloween’ sequel.
  • The adult Michael Myers was portrayed by Nick Castle in almost every scene, except for some pick-up shots and the unmasking scene, where he was replaced by Tony Moran. Castle was a school-buddy of John Carpenter and was thought of by Carpenter because he was tall and had what Carpenter considered an interesting walk. Castle admitted he was disappointed to not be the face shown, but understood that Carpenter wanted a more “angelic” face to juxtapose with Myers’ ghastly deeds. Castle has gone on to become a successful director.
  • John Carpenter was quite intimidated by Donald Pleasence, of whom he was a big fan and who was easily the oldest and most experienced person on set. Although Pleasance asked Carpenter difficult questions about his character, Pleasance turned out to be a good-humored, big-hearted individual and the two became great friends.
  • Of the female leads (all the girls are supposed to be in high school), only Jamie Lee Curtis was actually a teenager at the time of shooting.
  • The long tracking shot at the beginning was inspired by the tracking shot in Orson Welles’s Touch of Evil (1958). The shot would have been impossible to achieve on the film’s budget if it wasn’t for the recent invention of the steadicam tracking system.
  • P.J. Soles says the word “totally” eleven times.
  • Before Don Post became involved, Michael was going to wear a clown mask.
  • Laurie remarks that she would rather go out with unseen character “Ben Tramer”. The name came from Bennett Tramer, an old college friend of director John Carpenter. The real Bennett Tramer has also had a career in the motion picture industry as a writer and producer.
  • A young Jamie Lee Curtis was so disappointed with her performance that she became convinced she would be fired after only the first day of filming. When her phone rang that night and it was John Carpenter on the phone, Curtis was certain it was the end of her movie career. Instead, Carpenter called to congratulate her and tell her he was very happy with the way things had gone.
  • The Halloween theme is written in the rare 5/4 time signature. John Carpenter learned this rhythm from his father.
  • The scene where The Shape seems to appear out of the darkness behind Laurie was accomplished by using a simple dimmer switch on the light that slowly illuminated the mask.
  • One of the characters is named “Marion Chambers”. Marion was the first name of the female protagonist of Psycho (1960), and Chambers was the last name of the sheriff in that movie.
  • That Michael Myers could drive a car despite having gotten committed to an asylum at the age of six inspired many guffaws. The first movie novelization came up with a simple but effective explanation: when Doctor Loomis drove Michael to sanity hearings over the years, Michael simply watched very closely and carefully as Doctor Loomis operated the car. Remember, even if Michael sat in the back seat and there was a screen of bulletproof glass partition, Michael could still look over the Doctor’s shoulder without Loomis realizing the significance.
  • According to an additional scene in the extended television version, Michael Myers’ middle name is Audrey.
  • Carpenter wrote the part of Lynda for P.J. Soles after seeing her performance in Brian De Palma’s Carrie (1976).
  • Although Nick Castle plays the part of Michael Myers throughout the film, when his mask is removed by Laurie at the climax, another actor Tony Moran was used.
  • The opening POV sequence took 2 days to film.
  • Carpenter composed the score in 4 days.
  • For its first airing on television, extra scenes had to be added to make it fit the desired time slot. Carpenter filmed these during the production of Halloween II (1981) against his better judgment.
  • Donald Pleasence confessed to John Carpenter that the main reason why he took the part of Loomis was because his daughter Angela loved Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 (1976).
  • Carpenter considered the hiring of Jamie Lee Curtis as the ultimate tribute to Alfred Hitchcock who had given her mother, Janet Leigh, legendary status in Psycho (1960).
  • Carpenter’s intent with the character of Michael Myers was that the audience should never be able to relate to him.
  • Carpenter and co-writer 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’re so preoccupied with getting laid that they don’t notice that there’s a killer at large. Laurie Strode, on the other hand, spends a lot of time on her own and is therefore more alert.
  • As the film was shot out of sequence, Carpenter created a fear meter so that Jamie Lee Curtis would know what level of terror she should be exhibiting.
  • Debra Hill wrote most of the dialog for the female characters, while Carpenter concentrated on Dr Loomis’s speeches.
  • As the film was made in spring, the crew had huge difficulty in procuring pumpkins.
  • Production designer Tommy Lee Wallace picked the iconic mask in a dime store. It was a mask of Captain Kirk and cost $1.98. Wallace spray painted the eyes to change the appearance (and also to avoid the risk of litigation).
  • From a budget of $325,000 the film went on to gross $47 million at the US box office. In 2008 takings that would be the equivalent of $150 million, making “Halloween” one of the most successful independent films of all time.
  • Prior to the movie, a book was written by Curtis Richards, and reveals more of the story behind Michael’s rage. However, the book is very rare.
  • Nancy Kyes (Annie Brackett) starred in at least three other Carpenter films, one being another of the Halloween franchise; Halloween III: Season of the Witch. The others are The Fog and Assault on Precinct 13.

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