Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Tribute to Debra Hill

Kind of a sneak peek to the whole "women behind the scenes" option I gave in my poll, I recently did some more research and thought that giving Debra Hill her dues were necessary....

We always associate Halloween, Michael Myers, Jamie Lee Curtis, and all things of that sort with John Carpenter...but did you know that he wasn't the full brains behind the operation? That's right, Michael Myers does have a mother...and her name is Debra Hill. John Carpenter even credits her as being the other half of the 50/50 writing cred for Halloween, Halloween II, and Halloween III: Season of the Witch. She also worked alongside him in The Fog. Outside of working with Carpenter, she produced The Dead Zone, Head Office, Escape from NY, World Trade Center, and two of my favorite cult classics: Clue and Adventures in Babysitting.

Little clues about her personal life lend a hand in the making of Michael Myers' storyline. For example, Haddonfield was named after Hill's birthplace in Haddonfield, New Jersey. She also helped Carpenter pay homage to Alfred Hitchcock by giving many characters name related to his characters. For example, the decision to name Dr. Loomis after Janet Leigh's boyfriend in Psycho.

Hell, it was Debra Hill who thought casting Jamie Lee Curtis would be brilliant once she found out she was Janet Leigh's daughter!

She was honored by Women in Film in 2003. After years of having people not taking her seriously because she was a woman, Hill became one of the most powerful producers in Hollywood. She recalled the transition from being called "sweetheart" and "darling" in her early years as a producer to the respectful "ma'am". She was an incredibly infulential screenwriter and producer and gave wonderful pieces of cinema for us to treasure for generations to come.

After her death in 2005, Carpenter told Associated Press that working with Hill was "one of the greatest experiences of my life - she had a passion for not just movies about women or women's ideas but films for everybody".

My question is this, why is it that no one hears about Debra Hill? She and Carpenter collaborated on the writing of the story as well as the production. The only thing he has on her is that he directed the film. The two were even seeing one another during the production and filming of Halloween. I feel that we need to pay our respects to the other half of the Halloween dream-team. Hell, without Debra Hill, we may have still had the "Babysitter Murders".

4 comment(s):

B-Movie Becky said...

I was so sad when I heard that she had passed away. What a fantastic woman.

Kid Sis said...

I respected her greatly. One of the first things I did when I got to LA was become her development intern. Really cool lady.

You answered your own question though...she was always unfairly given less credit by others because she had dated Mr. Carpenter.

B-Sol said...

An excellent tribute to one of horror's unsung heroines. If Day of the Woman is about giving women their day, you've done so right here. This post is one of the reasons this is, in my estimation, the most important new horror blog of 2009. Nice work.

Monkey said...

not to nitpick or take away from Debora Hill. She truly was an amazing talent, but it was Irwin Yablans, the executive producer who insisted the movie be called Halloween and not the Babysitter Murders. He was also responsible for the movie taking place on Halloween night and the basic idea of a psychopath murding babysitters. It was John Carpenter and Deborah Harry who created the names, places, mood, music, look, feel, and overall plot details to the film.

Sorry. I realize I'm a year and a half late to this. John Carpenter and Deborah Harry are one of my favorite writing teams. My cousin was Deborah Harry's production assistant for a number of years too.

By the way, I'm a guy. Great blog too!

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