Halloween (1978) logo

Television Cut

On October 30, 1981, Halloween made its network television debut on NBC. It would soon become a memorable event for both fans of horror and the franchise, as John Carpenter begrudgingly filmed twelve minutes worth of new material to account for the edits made to the film and to help pad its runtime. (Advertisements in 1981 clearly weren’t as lengthy as they are today.)

Advertisement for the original NBC broadcast on October 30, 1981. Credit to Dinosaur Dracula.


List of Differences

  • In the film’s iconic opening scene, the cut-outs for the clown mask six-year-old Michael Myers puts on have been shrunken slightly, to mask the brief nudity shown during Judith Myers’ death scene.
  • Immediately following the opening scene, the film instead skips ahead a few months to May 1, 1964. Dr. Loomis is discussing Michael with two of his colleagues; he naturally disagrees with the conclusion that has been reached on Michael’s care.
  • He then immediately goes to visit Michael and utters, “You’ve fooled them, haven’t you, Michael? But not me.”
  • The film continues as normal for the next few scenes, until the addition of a newly filmed scene. Dr. Loomis speaks with two nurses at Smiths Grove Sanitarium about Michael’s escape. We learn a few more details about how Michael escaped, before Loomis is shown the word SISTER carved into the door. He leaves, and the next scene is of him talking with Dr. Wynn.
    • Michael and Laurie weren’t related in the first Halloween; this was a plot point added to the sequel. As part of the newly filmed scenes, they took the opportunity to help connect the two films together more fluidly.
  • When Laurie, Annie and Lynda are walking home from school, Laurie’s uttering of “shit” is muted.
  • Following Laurie’s phone call with Annie (after she briefly sees The Shape outside her bedroom window), we get an additional scene of the three interacting. Laurie is fresh out of the shower when Lynda shows up, claiming someone is following her. Annie phones in, and the three discuss their plans for the evening. Lynda also talks Laurie into letting her borrow her blouse for the evening (the same blouse that Lynda tells Bob not to rip later in the film.)
    • As these scenes were filmed alongside Halloween II‘s production, Jamie Lee Curtis’ haircut was not the one she had for the original. While she wore a wig in the sequel, this scene shows Laurie Strode with a towel wrapped around her head.
  • Laurie and Annie are smoking a cigarette rather than a joint during the car ride.
  • Annie’s death scene is cut short. Michael begins to strangle her, and then it cuts away. We miss the shots of him pulling his knife out, as well as Annie’s death and her head sliding on the car’s horn.
  • Likewise, Bob’s death scene is missing the shot of Michael stabbing him, and the far shot of Michael admiring his work. This unfortunately means the well-known and frequently referenced “head tilt” is gone as well.
  • Lynda’s death scene is mostly intact, but shortened as well. As there was originally nudity in some of the shots, they have been removed.
  • When Laurie discovers her friends’ bodies, an alternate shot is used when she sees Lynda. Jamie Lee Curtis’ scream is different, and P.J. Soles was positioned in a slightly different position as well.

Extended Edition

While not as infamous as the television cut for Halloween II, the Halloween television cut has lived on as the aptly titled “extended cut” of Halloween – living on in VHS, DVD and eventually Blu-Ray.

The extended edition effectively serves as a composite cut – taking the film’s theatrical cut, and adding in the three additional scenes that were filmed in 1981. All of the language, minimal gore and nudity from the theatrical release is still present, but you get the benefit of seeing the new scenes.


Home Video Releases

On June 21, 1986, Tohokushinsha Home Video released a laserdisc in Japan of the film’s television cut. It featured non-removable Japanese subtitles.

The television cut was made available, albeit very briefly, on VHS in 1989. Media Entertainment, the distributor for the film at the time, accidentally pressed a release using the film’s television master rather than the theatrical’s. While the mistake was discovered early enough to correct, there were enough copies released and sold to make the issue well known. (While no known numbers exist, I have seen estimates anywhere from 500 to 5000.) Copies of this release occasionally pop up on auction sites such as eBay, and tend to fetch a premium.

Anchor Bay originally released the extended edition as a bonus disc in the limited-edition THX-certified set of Halloween that Anchor Bay put out in 1998. It was later released individually on DVD and VHS in 2001. All of these releases have been long out of print.

In 2014, when Shout Factory (under its Scream Factory label) released the complete collection on Blu-Ray, the deluxe edition of the set featured a bonus disc that contained the “extended cut” in full HD. The main film was sourced from the film’s 2013 35th Anniversary transfer, and the television scenes were upscaled from 480p to 1080p. However, the title card establishing the first scene’s taking place on May 1, 1964 was missing.


Media

  • Screenshots of the original 1981 NBC broadcast
  • COMING SOON Screenshots of the accidental VHS release
  • COMING SOON Screenshots of the extended edition home video release – 480p
  • COMING SOON Screenshots of the extended edition home video release – 1080p