Was The Movie ‘Halloween’ Based On True Events?

Halloween | Universal Pictures

The iconic, low-budget horror film Halloween terrified and haunted audiences for years, beginning with the original 1978 release. While most people believe the film is a work of fiction, the inspiration came from director and co-writer John Carpenter’s experiences and true-crime horror.

So is the story of Halloween complete fiction or is there some truth behind the horror film?

Carpenter found his inspiration from this creepy encounter

When Carpenter was a student at Western Kentucky University he took a psychology class. He recounts a time his class took a field trip that changed his life forever.

“I had a class—psychology or something—and we visited a mental institution,” he says in A Cut Above the Rest, a 2003 documentary on Halloween Esquire recounts. “We visited the most serious, mentally ill patients.”

And he met one child who changed everything

Michael Myers

Carpenter encountered patients, but there was one child who struck him. The child made such enormous impression he was the seed idea for Carpenter’s Halloween. “And there was this kid, he must have been 12 or 13 and he literally had this look,” he said in  A Cut Above the Rest.

The “look” translated to the film, where actor Donald Pleasence, who played Myers’s psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis used these words to describe a young Michael Myers. “This blank, pale emotionless face. Blackest eyes. The devil’s eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him and then another seven trying to keep him locked up, because I realized what was living behind that boys’ eyes was purely and simply evil.”

Carpenter may have drawn inspiration from this event too

The real-life story of Stanley Stiers played out a little too close to the initial scene from Halloween. Stanley was born in 1912 in Iowa. However, a nurse swapped the Stiers infant with another baby. Both families returned with their children, however, the other family, who had the real Stiers baby got into a car accident and all died. The hospital learned what the nurse did and she was sent to prison.

Unfortunately, this crushed the Steirs family and they descended into madness and alcoholism. Eventually, they had a baby girl, named Susie. The family treated Stanley poorly and kids bullied him. He was never allowed to go trick or treating either.

One fateful night, after he was not allowed to trick or treat, but Susie was allowed to go to a party, Stanley finally had enough. He went on a killing spree, murdering Susie with a butcher knife, then his parents and even the family dog. Stanley left and went trick or treating, where he killed more.

After Stiers was captured and institutionalized he was again tortured in the mental facility. Like in the film, Stiers eventually escaped. Some people reported that Stiers had superhuman strength–like Myers.

This is why they named the character Michael Myers

Halloween 1978

Halloween 1978 | Compass International Pictures

Carpenter arrived at the name Michael Myers while having lunch. According to Esquire, he and film producer Irwin Yablans decided to name their monster to honor the European distributor of Carpenter’s previous film, Assault on Precinct 13. 

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