It’s hard to imagine the Halloween holiday without thinking of Michael Myers and the night he came home. John Carpenter’s “little film” shot in just three weeks in the spring of 1978 and with very limited resources has made the holiday and the movie forever after synonymous with each other.
It’s inconceivable today for October to come and not see Halloween played on TV, Myers masks being sold in stores or not to hear Carpenter’s infamous eerie 5-4 time based Halloween theme being played anywhere from novelty shops to cell phones.
However this wasn’t the case when the holiday of Halloween arrived in 1978. The movie did not premeire until October 25th in Kansas City, Missouri and shortly after in New York and Chicago. It actually opened in Pittsburgh on November 22nd, therefore the movie that grew into a phenomenon and forever changed the holiday Halloween had not yet happened.
So, for fun, here is what Halloween would have been like in 1978…the LAST Halloween that wouldn’t be completely connected to Michael Myers!
Since there would have been no Michael Myers masks, no Jason’s nor Freddy’s (which all would probably never have came to be w/o the success of Myers) the selections would have been a bit different.
If you were a kid in 1978 the most popular masks would have likely been the KISS, Star Wars, DC super heroes, classic monsters or possibly even Myers’ Don-Post-half-brother…the Spock mask.
Candy you would most likely receive if you went trick or treating in 1978 was bubble gum cigarettes (you could puff powdered sugar out the end for “smoke”), Charms “Blow Pops”, Wax Lips, Pixie Sticks, Apple Heads, Laffy Taffy, Licorice Pipes and yes…caramel apples. Hopefully san razor blades!
Since John Carpenter’s Halloween wasn’t an option at the cinema, the best horror movies in time for Halloween 1978 were; Damien Omen II, Romero’s masterful Dawn of the Dead, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (ok, not horror but how could I NOT list this one!?) and The Fury.
Classics like I Spit On Your Grave, the Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake and Magic starring Anthony Hopkins all came out in November just missing the holiday.
The gas mommy and daddy used taking you trick or treating in their Monte Carlo was 63 cents a gallon while they (most likely) were dressed up like the stars from Grease and listening to the Bee Gees in their hi-fi 8 track player!
Ahhhhh, the good old days.
Awesome article. It’s important to remember the significant impact this film made on the holiday and genre itself. I’ve always had a strong fascination with that time period even though I was born in ’88. I feel like I’m living in the wrong times!!
It’s strange imagining Halloween, the day, without Halloween, the movie. Since i was a kid, i always associated Halloween (the day) with Michael Myers. That’s why i love the fall season, too, because of the movies.
As good a film as MAGIC is, it just doesn’t capture the weather or dark nights of the fall season. I like watching Anthony Hopkins being controlled by his ventriloquist’s dummy, but Michael Myers is the embodiment Halloween as i see it.
I was 3 years old in 1978, and your article is absolutely right. I clearly remember that as my first memory of Halloween back in ’78. My Halloween costume WAS, in fact, the KISS Gene Simmons demon (the plastic mask w/ the rubber band and the gown like outfit; I even had a poster of KISS in my room. If I remember correctly, it was like a group photo of them in the center and their individual picture on each corner of the poster)! I also remember the first Halloween candy I had eaten that, imo, forever associates w/ Halloween—the infamous candy corn. It wasn’t until 1981 when I saw John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN on TV as well as HALLOWEEN II in the local theater that Michael Myers became a part of my fascination of the HALLOWEEN franchise. It’s hard to imagine that was the case for the movie in October 1978.
I can never imagine Halloween without Michael Myers. Since my childhood, before I even saw the movies, I knew about Michael and associated that day with him. Today I look forward to Halloween all for him. I have been for the last years of my teens and as an adult been Michael Myers. Just as I will be this year too.