Reflecting on Moustapha Akkad, the Legendary Producer Behind “Halloween”

Akkad is best known for producing the original "Halloween" film. He provided the financial backing for the movie, which was made on a modest budget. "Halloween" has gone on to become a landmark in the horror genre, setting the stage for a new wave of slasher films as well as a number of sequels.

Reflecting on Moustapha Akkad, the Legendary Producer Behind “Halloween”
Until his death in 2005, Moustapha Akkad was involved in every film in the "Halloween" franchise — the only person to do so.

Moustapha Akkad was a prominent Syrian American Muslim filmmaker known for his work in the film industry, particularly for his involvement in the "Halloween" (1978 – ) film series. While many horror fans may not know his name — the franchise is primarily associated with horror master John Carpenter — Akkad was a producer on the first eight “Halloween” films, and perhaps the saga’s biggest cheerleader. In fact, Akkad was the only person to be involved in all of the first eight films before the franchise was rebooted in 2007. Fann breaks down Akkad’s life and all the ways he shaped “Halloween” into the horror institution that it is today.

Akkad was born in Syria and later moved to the United States to pursue his education. He attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he studied film and theater. It wasn’t long before Akkad started his career as a producer and director in Hollywood. 

Akkad is best known for producing the original "Halloween" film in 1978, which was directed by Carpenter. Akkad provided the financial backing for the movie, which was made on a modest budget. "Halloween" has gone on to become a landmark in the horror genre, setting the stage for a new wave of slasher films as well as a number of sequels. The film's success is often credited to its low-budget, independent production, which allowed Carpenter creative control with Akkad's financial support.

Following the success of the first "Halloween" film, Akkad continued to be involved in the franchise, taking on a more involved role as he moved from producer to executive producer. Akkad produced several sequels, including "Halloween II" (1981), which picks up the story of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Michael Myers immediately after the events of the first film. Akkad's involvement in the sequels ensured the continuity and development of the franchise.

Despite funding the original, Akkad’s most notable contribution to the “Halloween” series was keeping it alive — more than providing financial support, Akkad had a true understanding of what made the first two movies so successful. When “Halloween 3: Season of the Witch” (1982)  was released, it received major audience backlash for its complete change of scenery and characters. More specifically, audiences were left upset at the lack of the now-iconic masked villain, Michael Myers. Upon seeing this reaction, Akkad personally made the decision to bring future “Halloween” films back to what made the first two successful — a menacing killer who doesn’t stay down. A monster of a man. Michael Myers.

So while Akkad's primary role in the “Halloween” franchise was financial and logistical, he also enjoyed a degree of creative input. After Carpenter and his co-writer Debra Hill parted ways with Akkad due to Akkad’s rejection of their “overly cerebral” script, Akkad continued the series as an executive producer, now able to keep his vision at the forefront of each movie. He collaborated with various directors and writers over the years to maintain the essence of the "Halloween" series Michael Myers, the villain who was now its central character. The films often focused on the menacing presence of Michael Myers and the psychological horror he represented.

Outside of the “Halloween” franchise, Akkad is perhaps best known for his early work producing and directing "Mohammad, Messenger of God" (1976), which was released as "The Message" in the United States. The film is an epic with a runtime of over three hours that depicts the life of the prophet Muhammad; its production was a landmark in terms of both scale and content. Akkad encountered resistance to creating this film from Hollywood, leading him to film the movie in Morocco. While making the film, he sought to be respectful of Islam and Muhammad's portrayal, consulting Islamic clerics. He gained approval from Al-Azhar University in Egypt but faced rejection from the Muslim World League in Mecca.

Akkad viewed the film as a means to bridge the gap between the Western and Muslim worlds, as he felt it was his duty to accurately represent Islam. He believed that Islam was widely misunderstood in the West, and he aimed to tell its story to foster better understanding. In a 1976 interview, Akkad said, “I did the film because it is a personal thing for me. Besides its production values as a film, it has its story, its intrigue, its drama … Being a Muslim myself who lived in the west, I felt that it was my obligation to tell the truth about Islam. It is a religion that has a 700 million following, yet it's so little known about, which surprised me.”

Akkad's involvement in the "Halloween" franchise helped shape the series into a long-running and highly recognized part of the horror genre. His financial support and commitment to maintaining the spirit of the original film contributed to the enduring popularity of the franchise, which has since included multiple sequels, remakes and reboots. His spirit lives on in the franchise through his son, Malek Akkad, who has co-produced every film in the franchise going back to "Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers" (1995). Through his son, the Akkad name persists, forever to be associated with the saga that Moustapha Akkad invested so much of his life in.

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to Fann.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.