Halloween: Vol 1 (Carpenter & Curtis)



Welcome Deadites to the first ever Scary Commentary, your weekly treat to brighten your lazy Sunday. Each and every Sunday, I’ll be bringing you a play-by play of the most important and mostly uncommon knowledge held within a given commentary track. For the inaugural edition, Elm Street residents, I bring back from the depths of the celluloid dungeon the most interesting parts from a commentary track for the 1978 classic Halloween featuring writer/director John Carpenter and actress Jamie Lee Curtis.

This track was originally recorded for Halloween: 35th Anniversary Edition released by Anchor Bay and Starz

PART I ( 00:00:00-00:30:00)

Tommy Lee Wallace cut the iconic pumpkin for the opening title sequence. Filmed in the same garage that the car-scene interiors with actor Donald Pleasance and Nancy Stephens were shot. (00:00:28)

Jamie Lee Curtis was under contract with Universal during filming. (00:01:07)

Producer/Screenwriter Debra Hill and Curtis became best friends during shooting. (00:01:37)

Curtis was present during filming of opening sequence. The actress helped the crew get the house ready by “white washing” the place with them. (00:02:36)

Panaglide camera was so heavy, it took cameraman Ray Stella and Director of Photography Dean Cundey working in shifts to film opening sequence. (00:03:02)

Carpenter says paraglide is hard to focus and this is why the image gets soft when hand grabs knife out of drawer in opening. (00:03:50)

Cameraman had to kneel down to give of impression that POV was actually from a child’s perspective. (00:06:23)

Opening sequence was shot on the last day of filming. Curtis was 19 years old. (00:07:06)

The Night He Came Home

Curtis was given the slate by cameraman Ray Stella or Dean Cundey from opening sequence crane pull-back shot. (00:07:17)

Curtis got called back three times before landing the role of Laurie. (00:10:23)

According to Carpenter, The Strode house now has a shrine out front dedicated to Curtis.(00:11:33)

Carpenter owned the Lincoln Cadillac used for the Strode family car. (00:11:43)

Curtis’s outfit was purchased from JC Penny as to give her a look as if her mother bought the clothes.(00:12:06)

Scene where Curtis drops off the key was the first day of shooting. (00:13:41)

Actual first shot of production is one where Tommy Doyle is introduced. (00:14:00)

Curtis made up the “Just The Two Of Us” song. (00:14:18)

School scene where Curtis sees “The Shape” outside of class was the second half of the first day of shooting. (00:15:22)

Kid who is physically stopped by Michael in school yard scene is producer Irwin Yablans’ son. (00:17:18)

Train passing by in scene were driver is shown dead was an accident and the footage in the film used was shot before actor Pleasance turned to address Carpenter because he believed the shot was ruined. (00:19:24)

Carpenter’s cigarette smoke can be seen in the shot were Annie confronts the shape-less bush. (00:24:14)

Curtis is seen laughing when she runs into Sheriff Bracket. It’s the reason she covers her mouth.(00:25:11)

Carpenter called Jamie Lee after the first day of filming and told her what a great job she had done for the day. (00:25:37)

Bedroom scene where Laurie see Michael by clothesline was Curtis’s audition scene. Carpenter states they had to reshoot scene for some now unknown reason. (00:26:27)

Art department painted leaves and had to gather them up after scenes because it was actually spring during filming. (00:28:30)

PART II (00:30:00-01:00:00)

Panaglide was used in lieu of dolly and dolly tracks because of speed and efficiency of device. (00:30:24)

Car scene after the hardware robbery was added, not in original script, because Carpenter wanted a transition from day to night and also the running time of the film was short on initial assembly.(00:33:32)

Dark fade immediately before film is set in dark was added in post to give the film a more naturally transition. (00:34:34)

Shot where Sheriff Bracket’s car, and sheriff logo is visible, comes into frame is slower that how the director would shot it today says Carpenter. (00:36:33)

Parts of the house were not fixed up in the film’s opening. Carpenter’s crew had to take the house form desolate to lived in. (00:38:16)

The only reason Actor Donald Pleasance agreed to play Dr.Loomis was because his daughter was a big fan of Carpenter’s score to Assault on Precinct 13. (00:39:41)

Curtis says actor Brian Andrews, who plays Tommy Doyle, was a good actor but had a lot of energy on set. (00:40:17)

Curtis says making Halloween was the greatest experience of her acting career. (00:41:05)

Make-up, Wardrobe, and Hair departments shared one Winnebago and the Art department had a truck. (00:41:27)

Halloween was the most fun Carpenter ever had as a director. (00:42:12)

The Thing For Another World was shown on the TV because it’s one of Carpenter’s favorite films and he had it readily available in his personal collection. (00:44:29)

When Curtis and Andrews are discussing the possibilities of the “boogeyman”, Curtis had to twist the kid’s arm to prevent him from entering her shot. (00:45:04)

Laundry scene was shot in associate producer Kool Lusby’s backyard. (00:46:11)

Laundry scene was shot at the end of the shoot. (00:46:35)

Carpenter admits that he loves working with kid actors. (00:48:09)

Producer Ray Stark approached Curtis’s mother, screen legend Janet Leigh, and asked her to audition Jamie at 15 for Reagan in The Exorcist. Janet refused. (00:49:40)

Scene where Annie drops off Lindsey is Carpenter’s favorite scene in the film. (00:52:07)

Actress Nancy Loomis made up the “Oh Paul” song. (00:52:46)

Outside of the Doyle house window shots were all done at the same time. Carpenter carried a list to keep track. (00:55:31)

The inspiration behind the Myers house came for a supposed haunted abandoned house in Carpenter’s home town. (00:56:56)

Carpenter says Actor Charles Cyphers let fellow actor Donald Pleasence “hypnotize him with his eyes” in scene after Loomis scares the kids from the Myers’ house. (00:57:47)

Curtis didn’t get much work immediately following Halloween. All she booked was an episode of Charlie’s Angels and an episode of The Love Boat with her mother, Janet Leigh. Carpenter remedied the situation with a role in The Fog. (00:59:04)

PART III (01:00:00-01:31:00)

Curtis was hired for 80’s favorite Trading Places because Filmmaker John Landis cast her in a short called Coming Soon as the narrator and liked her so much he cast her in Trading Places as well.(01:01:17)

Carpenter says he should have moved the camera higher in the shot after Lynda and Bob consummate their love. “I should have moved the camera up overhead of them so I wouldn’t shoot up their nostrils. But that’s ok.” (01:04:05)

Scenes in the Wallace’s kitchen were all shot in one day. (01:05:00)

Bob was on a box in famous door death scene. He simply lifted himself up. (01:05:30)

It was Debra Hill’s idea to have Michael reappear in the sheet and glasses. (01:06:17)

Debra Hill wrote the first draft of Halloween while Carpenter shot the TV movie Someone’s Watching Me. He then rewrote the script, adding and subtracting what he wanted, but the sheet scene is almost as Hill originally wrote it. (01:07:00)

Lynda’s screams when she’s strangled had to be looped because Carpenter needed to have the screams carry over into Laurie’s shots. (01:07:45)

Commentary marks the first time Carpenter and Curtis have ever sat down and viewed a movie they’ve made together. (01:08:23)

Curtis outlined the script and numbered scenes according to intensity so she would know what level of emotion to bring to each scene. This was done because the film was shot out of order. (01:09:00)

Curtis says Carpenter’s direction in the third act when she’s enters the Wallace house was like “geography.”(01:13:40)

To catch Curtis as she falls from stairs, Chris something, it’s hard to understand Curtis here, and the key grip were the only ones there to catch her. (01:16:51)

Curtis says people always ask her why Laurie threw away the knife. (01:19:44)

Carpenter admits Laurie throwing knife down after the knitting needle stabbing was probably a writing flaw on his part. (01:21:06)

Curtis says she fell asleep on a plaid couch and the pattern can be seen on her face during her final moment with Dr. Loomis. (01:21:58)

Carpenter served as camera operator in some of the scenes at the end of the film. (01:22:45)

Carpenter told Curtis to “Stab the mother******”, which made her laugh. The two claim the same stuff happened on The Fog. The filmmaker says that he’s since calmed down in his direction. (01:23:07)

Stunt where Michael falls out the house was performed by a friend of producer, Debra Hill. (01:27:13)


There you have it fright fans. It was a good listen and a pleasure to report the findings to the loyal reader of 1428 Elm. As a life-long lover of all things Halloween, I learned a few bits that both surprised me and made me fall in love with the film all over again. Hope you had as much fun reading as I did viewing. Lazy Sunday is now Crazy Sunday. Remember, I listen to them so you don’t have to.Until next time, Deadites.

Check back next Sunday as I report on another commentary track for Halloween featuring Director of Photography Dean Cundey, Editor/Production Designer Tommy Lee Wallace and The Shape himself, Nick Castle.

Next: Netflix Horror Additions for September

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