H40: 40 Years of Terror was purely and simply the ultimate Halloween franchise reunion, with numerous panels and epic events throughout the weekend, the most historic of which was the 40th anniversary Halloween panel, featuring most of the cast and crew of John Carpenter’s original 1978 classic.
The Halloween panel included editor/production designer Tommy Lee Wallace, producer Irwin Yablans, cinematographer Dean Cundey, Nick Castle, Will Sandin, Brain Andrews, P.J. Soles, John Michael Graham, David Kyle (making his first ever convention appearance), and Mickey Yablans, moderated by Brian Collins.
Irwin Yablans recounted the origin of the landmark film, starting with his being a producer of John Carpenter’s previous film, Assault on Precinct 13, and his idea to set a horror film about babysitters (everyone as had one and/or been one) on Halloween night (one night means one outfit for everyone and cheaper production costs), which led to a fateful meeting with Carpenter. “And he said, ‘I want my name above the title.’ I thought it was so audacious”, Yablans recalled. “He’d made one movie and now he wanted his name above the title.’ I said, “Can you do this movie for $300,000?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I can do that.’ I said, ‘Well you can have your name above the title, you can have anything you want.’ And that’s how it all started.”
Dean Cundey had done a few low budget films where Debra Hill served as script supervisor, prior to her asking him to be the cinematographer for a little movie she was producing called Halloween. “she always impressed me,” he said, “because she was not only taking notes and stuff as script supervisor, but every now and then she would come up and say, ‘You know, it seems like…’ and she would make a suggestion, so she was obviously more interested in film than just this job (of script supervisor). And then one day I got a phone call from Debra, and she said, ‘There’s this guy and we’re going to make a movie. His name is John Carpenter, and I think you’d make a good team. I want you to meet him.’ So I did. And apparently they thought I was okay to hire me, so I worked on the movie.”
“It was the smallest part I ever had, and it’s the only part I’m remembered for,” said David Kyle, who played Judith’s unnamed “Boyfriend” in the opening scene of Halloween, and who was making his first ever convention appearance at H40. “But it was cool. It was fun. Nancy (Loomis) was one of my good friends as well. I was just delighted to be in the film with all my friends.”
Will Sandin, who plays Michael Myers at age 6, said that he attended a premiere screening of the film in 1978. “But we actually left about two-thirds into it,” he said, “because my sister got really scared. It was on cable years later when I finally saw the whole thing.”
At one point, the fan who made headlines when he told his story of surviving a real life home invasion because he was inspired by Laurie Strode to Jame Lee Curtis at San Diego Comic Con this past summer again thanked this group that created the film that he credits with literally saving his life.
You can watch those and many more highlights from the Halloween panel at H40: Forty Years of Terror and see our exclusive photo gallery below.
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