Five Seconds to Halloween Immortality

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What can five seconds do to change history?  Is five seconds time you would give someone else from your life?  What if I told you five seconds, or 120 frames of 35mm film, would change how the world looked at you?  Would you take five fleeting seconds for granted.  Time is the most precious thing we have, yet it is a concept, something we cannot hold in our hands.  Irwin Yablans graciously gave up five seconds to his business partner and it changed how the world viewed them both.  The first credit after the Compass International logo is Moustapha Akkad presents.  This was originally reserved for the person who had created the idea for HALLOWEEN and hired the young talented filmmaker, John Carpenter.  This was five seconds that gave Moustapha Akkad prominence in the HALLOWEEN franchise and celluloid immortality.

Recently, I was speaking with Billy Kirkus, the owner of the HALLOWEEN (1978) outtake footage.  We were discussing how Irwin Yablans originally had the first screen credit in HALLOWEEEN and how it had been removed by Irwin’s request, to give a credit to Moustapha Akkad.  This is a story that has been detailed in Irwin’s book, The Man Who Created HALLOWEEN:

Upon returning to Los Angeles, Akkad joined me for his first look at Halloween.  We viewed it alone in a small projection room at Raleigh Studios.  At the conclusion of the screening, Moustapha was peculiarly silent.  As we walked to our cars, I tried to reassure him.  “Moustapha, this picture is going to make a lot of money,” I offered.  He said nothing and he seemed to be thinking of a response.  He finally spit it out.  “I don’t see my name anywhere in the credits.  Why?”  I was shocked.  Until that moment, my partner had never expressed an interest in being personally identified with Halloween.  As a matter of fact, he had avoided linking his name to the project.  Suddenly, the man was insulted that his name was nowhere in the credits.  Moustapha had not yet offered any reaction to the film, but his chagrin over his lack of screen credit to me that he, too, saw the special nature of Halloween.  In the interest of maintaining our working relationship, I reluctantly gave him the only possible screen credit available, my presentation credit.  I have regretted it ever since.  In the final analysis, there was little choice; I needed the man’s resources.  That facet of Moustapha’s character had not been revealed before, and it was disappointing.  I was to see more of Akkad’s ego as Compass became more successful. (Yablans 173)


The story is particularly interesting because in 2011, HALLOWEEN II (1981) was released on Blu-ray for the first time from Universal.  Many fans noticed that the credit for Moustapha Akkad had been replaced by a more generic credit for the company itself.  The incident was reported here

Both instances involved a credit for Moustapha Akkad.  Credits in films are important.  As Mr. Kirkus and I discussed the topic I said, “You know you have that footage?”  His response was, “What do you mean?”  I proceeded to tell him, as the person who photographed all the spools of footage with the original tags, that he has the original negative of Irwin’s credit.  Most tags on the footage have the scene and take numbers, some are listed as “test”, while others don’t carry a specific designation at all.  The tag for Irwin’s credit reads that it is scene R-1A.  The footage for the Jack-o-lantern credit sequence is listed as 1-1.  This means it is scene one, take one.  1-2 means scene one, take two, etc.  From what I know from logging the footage, before it went into archival storage, scenes with an R are for reshoots.  Additional information on the tag is the roll number.  This refers to the roll of film used to shoot various scenes.  A number punched into the film leader matches the tag, a type of cross reference.  Any spool of film that carries the same roll number would also tell you what other footage was shot just before or just after the current spool.  The amount of footage that is used is approximately 120 frames, not much time, about five seconds.  Time enough to change film history.  A simple visual inspection showed that this was indeed the credit sequence that was thought to be lost many years ago. This has not been seen since the initial viewing between Irwin and Moustapha.  This is HALLOWEEN lore that has now been verified.

Yablans, Irwin. The Man Who Created HALLOWEEN.  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012.

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