On this day in 1978, a low-budget horror thriller opened quietly in Kansas City, Missouri. It would end up changing the genre forever. The simple tale of an unstoppable killer stalking and killing young people on All Hollow’s Eve, Halloween earned a staggering return on its small investment and prompted a slew of sequels and “slasher movie” imitators. But the original film was one of skilled craftsmanship, genuine wit, and low-budget ingenuity; here are a few fun facts about its production.
1. Halloween’s total budget was $320,000. It grossed $70 million in initial release — making it the most profitable independent film ever made until 1999’s The Blair Witch Project.
2. Director/co-writer John Carpenter was paid a mere $10,000 for his work on the film. But in exchange, he got final cut, total creative control, his name above the title — and a cut of profits, which would turn out to be a very lucrative agreement indeed.
3. The film’s original title was The Babysitter Murders. Executive producer Irwin Yablans suggested modifying the story of a killer stalking babysitters to include the holiday setting, and changing the title accordingly.
4. With a release around the holiday in mind, the filmmakers had to move very fast. They had four weeks to prep the production, four weeks to shoot it, and four weeks to edit it.
5. That four weeks of prep included writing the script; Carpenter had been hired merely on the basis of the horror premise. He spent three weeks writing the film with producer (and lover) Debra Hill. She wrote most of the dialogue for the female characters, taking great pains to give their characters real authenticity.