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The Truth About Halloween's (1978) Bizarrely Low Budget

If you have ever creepily hidden among the hedges or own a washed-out Captain Kirk mask, then you are probably a fan of "Halloween." Created by the legendary John Carpenter, "Halloween" is considered one of the greatest horror films ever made and was inducted into the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2006. "Halloween" was released in 1978 and currently holds a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie was so popular that it spawned an entire franchise, including the latest movie "Halloween Kills," which was just recently released on October 15, 2021, and is the twelfth film in the series.

The original "Halloween" stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasance, Nick Castle, Tony Moran, and Nancy Kyes. The plot follows the escaped sociopath Michael Myers (Nick Castle) as he engages in multiple murders and slowly pursues teenager Laurie Strode (Curtis). The soundtrack was also created by John Carpenter, which in and of itself has become iconic. The movie was an unmitigated success, earning around $70 million against a $325,000 budget (via The Numbers). Here's the biggest trick the filmmakers employed to become so cost-effective.

How was "Halloween" made for so little money?

The biggest single innovation for both John Carpenter and the production of "Halloween" was an invention that came to prominence in 1975: the Steadicam, which yields smooth tracking shots without a cumbersome track and dolly system. This new technology allowed filmmakers fluid camera movement that wasn't bound to an intricate system of rails, but rather the camera operator themselves. 

You might be familiar with these shots as the ones that involve Michael Myers stalking and climbing. The Steadicam allowed the camera operators to move freely, and more importantly, cheaply. Previously, if you wanted a shot from a first-person perspective of somebody climbing up a ladder, one would have had to create an expensive, almost roller coaster-like track. With the Steadicam, however, directors were provided far more flexibility at a much cheaper cost. 

"Halloween" cinematographer Dean Cundey said about filming, "We couldn't have done it without the Steadicam. There was no other piece of equipment that would have been able to go across the street, look into the house, go into the kitchen, up the steps, into a bedroom, and back down again" (via Screenrant). The financial success and popularity of "Halloween" helped elevate both the horror genre and John Carpenter's career. 

"Halloween" is currently available for streaming on Amazon Prime, Youtube TV, and AMC. "Halloween Kills" is currently in theaters.