It’s amazing who you meet in the horror business. People you’ve only seen onscreen or from afar are suddenly on the other end of your phone line, chatting with you about their pets and the weather. I was recently offered the opportunity to chat with Sandy Johnson, the OG Judith Myers, over 40 years after her last filmmaking role. This signer/dancer/actress has not only been killed by Michael Myers, she was also Playboy’s Playmate Of The Month in 1974. She grew up in San Antonio and, after taking her leave from acting, attended Santa Monica Community College, then proceeded to obtain her masters and PhD back in Texas. After a chance phone call, horror came back into her life once again. We talked about Halloween (1978), working with John Carpenter, her introduction into the wonderful world of horror conventions and more!
PopHorror: Let’s talk about Halloween.
Sandy Johnson: Okay!
PopHorror: What did you think when you first read the script?
Sandy Johnson: I actually didn’t see the whole script. They had me read several lines from each part, and then they made their decision on that. So, other than the scene I was in… I never really knew the whole story until I went to the premiere to see it. And, wow! It scared the hell out of me!
PopHorror: I bet! So, you got to read for the other parts, the babysitters?
Sandy Johnson: Yes.
PopHorror: And without really knowing what you were walking into, you had no idea what to expect.
Sandy Johnson: No, I didn’t know. Even with my one scene with young Michael, I had no idea what the adult Michael would look like or what the storyline was going to be.
PopHorror: You just knew your little brother was coming to kill you.
Sandy Johnson: Yup! All I knew was that I was going to be killed that morning, or that night at the movies (laughs)!
PopHorror: I know this was an indie production. Was it on a small scale?
Sandy Johnson: It was small. Oh, yeah. Most of the people were doing multiple jobs. A lot of them were just John Carpenter and Debra’s [Hill] friends helping out with many of the things. Yeah, it was small.
PopHorror: Sometimes that’s good. You get to bond a bit more with everyone when there’s fewer people involved.
Sandy Johnson: I definitely think the cast and crew on indie films bonds more than in bigger pictures. They make tighter families than during other productions.
PopHorror: So, Halloween was in 1978. Before that, you did two films: Surfer Girls  and Jokes My Folks Never Told Me . Afterwards, you did one more film in 1979, I believe?
Sandy Johnson: Yes, I did four other films. The first one, I think, was Jokes My Folks Never Told Me, and the Surfer Girls. And then I did Halloween. That same year, I did Gas Pump Girls, and the next year, I did H.O.T.S. I think that’s the way it went (laughs)!
PopHorror: And then you decided that acting wasn’t for you?
Sandy Johnson: I didn’t decide that. I lost both of my parents. I was very depressed. I didn’t want to be around anyone. I just wanted to get away from everything. Come to terms. Unfortunately, I didn’t work out, either, so I was worse than most actresses (laughs)! It was not a good time.
PopHorror: But now you’ve come back!
Sandy Johnson: I have come back, yes! I’m having a great time. I’m sorry I missed out on all those years. The fans are just a blast. I love them. The cons are so much fun. And now I’m going to start making movies again, so life comes around!
PopHorror: Yes, you have some new projects, even with Covid happening. Tell us about them.
Sandy Johnson: Well, before Covid, what I had started doing was, I had connected with an acting coach in LA. I’m doing virtual acting lessons every week, which has been awesome. Last year, I was supposed to go to the UK and do not only the For The Love Of Horror Con, but then I was going to shoot a film there called Gym Creeps. It’s a good part. I’m happy about it. Unfortunately, with Covid, they haven’t been able to shoot the film. So, maybe October… but have my doubts. I think the UK is still pretty bad.
And then I was offered a cameo in a film that I actually did virtually a couple months ago. It is a Hungarian film. The director [Benjamin Helmeczi] had sent me a video of the first part of the film which was more like a prologue, and it was really good. I really enjoyed it, even thought it was only a few minutes long. After I watched it and told him it was really good, he asked me if I’d like to do a cameo in the next part of the series. And I said, “Yeah, that’s be great!” So I ended up doing a little cameo for that one, which was awesome. I think it’s going to be a really good film.
The title of the series is Vulpes. The first one is Vulpes: The Prologue, and the one I was in is called Vulpes: Lust For Revenge. And it tells the story of a man getting even with people who abuse animals. So, he abuses them. It’s an interesting turnaround of events (laughs).
This is the second one, but I think there’s going to be several more. This is just the second installment of that series. I think they’re actually shooting the main part of it in March. Of course, mine was virtual, so I’ve already shot it.
PopHorror: That’s pretty cool. You were able to do it right in your living room, and you didn’t have to fly anywhere.
Sandy Johnson: Yeah! It was fun. I’m looking forward to seeing how they put that in there with the rest of it. My guess is that it will be good. The acting was good. The photography was good. The script was good. Hard to go wrong with that.
PopHorror: So, what made you want to come back to horror and filmmaking?
Sandy Johnson: Well, it’s kind of an interesting story. I was sitting on my couch playing Words With Friends like I do every night with my best friend because she lives in another state, and I got this random text that said, “Are you the Sandy Johnson from the original Halloween?” Now, this is something I haven’t thought about in probably 30 years, and I thought, “What in the world?” So I responded, “Who is this?”
PopHorror: Probably a good question to ask.
Sandy Johnson: Yeah (laughs)! I mean, it’s the middle of the night, and you’re asking a 40 year old question. And it turned out that it was Rick Henriques, who is an agent. He had been looking for me for about 9 or ten years. He responds, “OMG, is this really you?” And I said, “Yeah, it is.” So we started a conversation. And he said, “The reason I contacted you—I’ve been looking for you forever—I think I have talked to every Sandy Johnson in the country!” (laughs) Yeah, he was pretty excited. So anyway, he said, “I manage celebrities for cons.” And I said, “I don’t even know what that is.” So he explained horror cons to me, and he said, “Do you think you would be interested in doing them?” And I thought, “Wow! I don’t know! This is just so out of the blue. My husband’s asleep, and I’ll have to talk to him in the morning.” Which I did. I kinda broke it to him easy (laughs). So, long story short. I did go with him. I’ve been going to cons for a couple of years now. Because of the timing of the conversation, they were actually able to get me into the 2018 [40th anniversary of Halloween] one, so that was kinda cool.
Yeah, I’m having a ball. I mean, it wasn’t even my idea! I was his idea (laughs). And then it turned out that there had been several agents looking for me, so that was interesting. The others, of course, were very disappointed that he had found me first. But I got a great one. Rick is just wonderful. It was just meant to be.
PopHorror: I can’t even imagine how excited he must have been when you answered him.
Sandy Johnson: Oh, yeah! He actually said, “Hang on! I’ve got to go tell my wife. She’s not even going to believe this!” I heard him run out of the room, and then I could hear them both shouting. And then he came back. So that was kinda fun. Of course, my husband was all nervous about it. “Who is this guy? Maybe it’s a scam!” You know. So I took him online to his website and showed him all the posts from the last number of years about the different cons and stuff. So he finally calmed down a bit, and he said, “As long as I can go with you, we can do this.”
Sandy Johnson: He loves it now. He already looks like Santa Claus, so he has his own fans.
PopHorror: So, is horror your go-to genre, or is that just where you’ve fallen?
Sandy Johnson: As long as it’s a good script and looks like a good shoot. Certainly indie horror. Something I’d really love to do is… before life got in the way… I was dancing and singing. I think it would be really fun to do a role that evolves through time. I obviously wouldn’t be able to do the younger part. But maybe as the older woman dealing with not being able to do those things anymore, or doing them but not being as good at it. I’d like to do a story like that. That would be kinda cool. I would still love to be able to sing and dance and stuff. That would be a fun story to do.
PopHorror: I think you just put that out in the atmosphere, and now it’s going to happen.
Sandy Johnson: Yeah, there you go! I put it out there.
PopHorror: What has your convention experience been like?
Sandy Johnson: What I find really interesting is, when I went to my first con that was right before the release of [Halloween] 2018, so they had a Halloween 40 Convention in Pasadena. Of course, I knew nothing about cons. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what kind of people would be there. I didn’t know what kind of people are horror fans. So, I just went. And when they first opened the doors, it was like this rush of people. Thousands of people came pouring in. Within like 5 minutes, I had this humongous line! I just sat there like, “Oh, my gosh! This is insane!” I looked at this line, thinking that these people are going to bs standing here for hours. And within 5 minutes, I had received this overdose of love. It was just crazy!
The people… they were just so amazing! And they were so happy to see me. It was incredible. It was one of the most memorable days of my life. I went from having no idea of what to expect to this amazing experience with all of these people who were so happy to see me. They just wanted to hug me and talk to me. It was just crazy (laughs)!
So, needless to say, it was a great weekend, and I made friends there. And, as I’ve gone to each con, I’ve reconnected with the actors and actresses from the original Halloween, which has been so fun. I’ve also met people like Felissa Rose, who’s awesome. These guys pulled me into their horror community… I don’t know how I ever did without it. It’s made such a difference in my life! I’m on Facebook and Instagram now. I have tons of followers. It’s been great! Everyone has been so kind and wonderful.
PopHorror: It’s funny, because society thinks horror fans are these social deviants and weirdos.
Sandy Johnson: I know! You know, I had no idea what to expect. A lot of them are pretty scary looking, covered with tattoos and different things. So, if you’re from a mindset where you pre-judge, and you think, “Okay, well this person must like to watch people get killed,” when you look at them (laughs), you’d assume that they were all just psychos walking around. But, of course, it’s totally the opposite.
We want to thank Sandy Johnson for taking time out of her schedule to talk with us. Keep it tuned to PopHorror for more Sandy Johnson news, as well as all of your horror news, reviews, and interviews!