Because of the film’s small budget, wardrobe, makeup, and props were all managed out of cinematographer Dean Cundey’s Winnebago, which was parked outside the fictional home of Michael Myers. A church owned the house, which was abandoned at the time of production.
Set in the fictional suburbs of Haddonfield, Illinois (named after co-writer/producer Debra Hill’s childhood hometown of Haddonfield, New Jersey), Halloween was actually filmed in South Pasadena and in Hollywood (just off Sunset Boulevard).
Because filming began in California in the spring, fall leaves were in short supply. Paper leaves were used for outdoor scenes, and in light of the low budget, they were raked up after each scene and bagged for reuse. Director John Carpenter’s friends rallied around menial projects like this one, keeping the film’s labor expenses within reasonable means.
Tommy Lee Wallace, a friend of Carpenter’s who served as production designer, location scout, art director, and co-editor, was responsible for creating the iconic Myers look. Tasked with finding a mask for Carpenter’s friend, Nick Castle (billed in the credits as“The Shape”), Wallace first brought in a clown mask. (In the beginning of the film, a 6-year-old Myers murders his sister while dressed as a clown.) But Carpenter and Hill, both fans of the 1960 French horror film Eyes Without a Face, were looking for something more ambiguous. Wallace wound up at Burt Wheeler’s Magic Shop on Hollywood Boulevard, where he purchased a William Shatner/Captain Kirk mask for $1.98. Wallace slapped some ultra-white paint on it, widened the eyeholes, and the Myers look was born.
Castle wasn’t the only actor to portray the adult Myers in the original film. Others include Tommy Lee Wallace, who was featured in the famous closet scene; Jim Winburn, a stuntman who took the fall off the balcony at the end of the film; a dog trainer; and Tony Moran, whose face is revealed during the movie’s thrilling climax. Rumors circulate that Carpenter also took a turn in the mask.
In the beginning of the film, when a young Myers grabs a knife from the kitchen and walks upstairs to his sister’s bedroom, the action is seen from the vantage point of Myers himself. Because of child labor laws, young actor Will Sandin, who played Myers as a boy, was not in the scene. Instead, audiences see producer/co-writer Debra Hill’s arm and hand in part of a clown costume. Halloween features Sandin’s only big-screen performance.
In 1980, NBC purchased the television rights to Halloween for $4 million, and the network demanded censorship of certain scenes. Halloween appeared on television for the first time in October 1981, but it was too short to fill the time slot. Carpenter filmed 12 additional minutes (during the production of Halloween II) so that the original hit the two-hour mark on television. During its first year of release in VHS format, Halloween reportedly earned $18.5 million domestically from rentals alone.