Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Michael Myers, Del Taco, and new footage made Halloween's first TV broadcast weirdly historic

Screenshot: Dino Drac (YouTube)

If you were an unsupervised kid on October 30, 1981, NBC was ready to scare the ever-living shit out of you with a broadcast of the still-recent Halloween. Warning only that the movie contained “elements of shock and suspense” before it began, the TV version offered both a convenient way to give unsuspecting viewers years of nightmares and a bunch of extra footage and promo material that set it apart from the theatrical cut.

It’s the latter stuff that makes Halloween’s first airing so interesting. As pop historian Dinosaur Dracula writes in a look back at the Friday Night At The Movies version, NBC required director John Carpenter and producer Debra Hill to bulk up the movie’s run time with 12 additional minutes of footage. Since Halloween II was in production around the time the NBC deal was struck—both it and the TV version of its predecessor were released on the same Friday in 1981—Carpenter shot the requested footage, using the additions to foreshadow some of the sequel’s plot points. Dinosaur Dracula links to a summary of these new scenes, which focus on Michael’s backstory and connection to Laurie. He also uploaded one of them, too, which you can check out below.

Aside from these fairly substantial additions, the TV broadcast also included the tone-breaking additions of commercials and an advertisement for Halloween II. The commercial breaks, as you can see in a compilation upload, aren’t exactly made in the same spirit as the horror movie they interrupt.

Still, the broadcast, from its ads showing fluffy-haired teens eating Del Taco and trailers for Time Bandits to the new scenes connecting Halloween and its sequel, are fascinating as a look back to a different time—one where network movie airings were the best way for most people to watch movies at home and before parental control technology could be used to stop kids from spending a Friday night scarring their fragile psyches with films about masked serial killers.

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About the author

Reid McCarter

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.