‘Halloween Ends’ and its real-life connection to Haddonfield – The Philadelphia Inquirer

Thank trailblazer filmmaker Debra Hill for repping South Jersey throughout the iconic franchise.
Michael Myers is back to terrorize the small town of Haddonfield with the release of Halloween Ends, which hits theaters and streams on Peacock starting Friday.
But don’t expect him to check out Haddy the dinosaur statue between kills.
Horror buffs already know that Myers’ mayhem doesn’t take place in the South Jersey borough just outside Philly. Instead, it’s set in a small, fictional Illinois town.
The Halloween franchise, beginning with the 1978 John Carpenter classic, has a connection to Haddonfield, N.J., though, thanks to original franchise cowriter and producer Debra Hill, who spent her formative years in our Haddonfield.
“Haddonfield was a place that I loved,” Hill told the Courier-Post in 1999. “It’s really a beautiful community. Basically, I used the name to pay homage to the town where I grew up.”
Hill, who died in 2005 at 54 after a battle with cancer, was born in Philadelphia and moved around frequently with her family, the New York Times reported. She spent a good chunk of time in Detroit before her family moved to Haddonfield in 1965, according to a 1980 Courier-Post article. Hill would go on to graduate from Haddonfield Memorial High School in 1968 and earned a degree in sociology from Temple University.
She met Halloween director Carpenter in 1975, and he encouraged her to write scripts because “it was the best way for a woman to get into directing or production,” according to Hill’s Los Angeles Times obituary. The pair, who were reportedly dating at the time, ended up writing the script for the original Halloween in three weeks.
Carpenter has said that the inspiration for the film’s Haddonfield was his childhood hometown of Bowling Green, Ky. But it was named after the South Jersey town, Hill told the Courier-Post in 1979.
“You can tell from the movie that I loved growing up in Haddonfield. That town was good to me,” she said.
And Hill’s highlighting of the town has been good for Haddonfield, said Camden County public affairs director Dan Keashen told the Inquirer. In fact, they almost don’t want to see the series wrap up.
“Many residents will be sad to see the end of the Michael Myers saga that has featured a fictional depiction of our county and the borough of Haddonfield for the last 43 years,” Keashen said. “The movies have almost become a rite of passage and a indelible part of the season for residents since its inception on the big screen.”
Hill also had a hand in casting Jamie Lee Curtis as babysitter-turned-feminist-hero Laurie Strode in her first starring role. As Hill told Entertainment Weekly in 1998, that casting choice, if nothing else, would be “great publicity” because Curtis’ mother, Janet Leigh, starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 thriller Psycho.
“At least I knew she had the genes to scream well,” Hill said.
And while Haddonfield may have been good to Hill, Halloween was even better. Filmed over the course of several weeks on a $350,000 budget, it earned a reported $70 million globally, setting a profit record for independent movies at the time. The Inquirer, however, disliked the film’s “remarkably implausible plot,” as one review noted.
Halloween was revolutionary for the horror genre. Before the iconic slasher film, horror movies focused on isolated locations or distinctly demonic evil. In Halloween, the evil was right next door — and thanks to Hill and Carpenter, the suburbs became scary, too.
Hill went on to write and produce a number of other Carpenter films, including The Fog, Escape from New York, Halloween II, and Escape from L.A. In the 1980s, she formed a production company, Hill/Obst Productions, and produced films including The Fisher King, Heartbreak Hotel, and Adventures in Babysitting.
Today, she is considered a trailblazer for women in filmmaking and was honored with an award from industry organization Women in Film in 2003. In 2005, the Producers Guild created a fellowship in her name to help men and women “whose work, interests, professionalism and passion mirror that of Debra Hill.”
“I hope someday there won’t be a need for Women in Film,” Hill said when accepting her 2003 award. “That it will be People in Film. That it will be equal pay, equal rights, and equal job opportunities for everybody.”
With the release of Halloween Ends, Hill’s horror legacy continues to live on on the big screen. And it could be the last of the Halloween franchise we’ll see — at least with Curtis as Strode. As director David Gordon Green told Entertainment Weekly, the film marks fans “saying goodbye to Jamie playing Laurie in the universe.”
But we’ve heard that before. Curtis has been saying she was done with the Strode character since at least 1981, when Halloween II came out. As she told the Daily News that year, she was done with horror in general — and wasn’t all that jazzed about playing Strode in the sequel, anyway.
So why did she continue on in the Halloween universe? Well, we can at least partly thank Debra Hill, as Curtis told the Daily News in 1983. Hill and Carpenter worked together on that film, and Curtis felt obligated to be involved.
“They gave me my first film,” Curtis told the Daily News. “I couldn’t say no to them.”


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