CharacterNation: Michael Myers

michael-myers

Who? Michael Myers is the original psycho killer, Norman Bates aside, who brought slasher/horror films to the mainstream in 1978’s Halloween and has been killing teenagers onscreen ever since. As a teenager in the 90’s Michael Myers and the Halloween movies were always favorites of me and my friends. We’d all get together and have sleepovers at my buddy’s house and the highlight of the night was renting out horror movies from the local Blockbuster. It was always a hoot to see the imaginative ways people could die and we were always guaranteed to see some boob in the mandatory sex scenes, the draw of which cannot be understated to a 14 year old.

The Halloween movies were always our favorites although the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th movies starring Freddy and Jason seemed to be more popular at the time. Freddy had the burnt face, funny jokes, and those cool as hell claws while Jason made hockey masks iconic and scary. They were monsters and monsters are cool I guess. But Micheal Myers is just a man. There was no supernatural appeal to him and was always treated as a second rate character.  Most people my age didn’t even know who Michael Myers was. Michael Myers who? He didn’t really have any powers, his costume was bland compared to Freddy and Jason. And his weapon of choice was a kitchen knife???

Boring.

But that’s what made MMichael Myers so cool. He didn’t need a stupid sweater or super powers to be scary. He was just a regular dude who was good at killing. Really, really good at killing.

Where? Halloween (1978), Halloween II (1981) Halloween 4: The Return of Micheal Myers (1988), Halloween 5: The Revenge of Micheal Myers (1989), Halloween: The Curse of Micheal Myers (1995), Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998) Halloween: Resurrection (2002) Halloween (2007), Halloween II (2009)

What? Michael Myers was always seen as a disturbed little boy but took things to another level when he murdered his teenage sister Judith on Halloween in 1963. Taken up and locked away for the next 15 years he manages to escape and returns home on Halloween to stalk a young babysitter named Laurie, played by Jamie Lee Curtis in her first role, and her friends. Hot in pursuit of Michael is his long time psychiatrist Dr. Loomis, oh the conversations they must have had together. Laurie ends up babysitting with her promiscuous friends but Michael shows up and shows them the true meaning of unsafe sex. Laurie eventually discovers her dead friends and that Micheal has saved her for last. She runs and hides back in her house as the “boogeyman” purses her. But Laurie proves to be a survivor as she fights back, stabbing Michael in the neck with a sewing needle and then in the eye with a coat hanger! Michael shows a remarkable resistance to pain as he quickly recovers and keeps coming after her. With Laurie moments from death Dr. Loomis shows up in the nick of time and blasts Michael away with his hand cannon over the second story balcony to his death. But when he goes back to check his handiwork, Michael is gone.

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Halloween II picks up right after Halloween as Laurie is brought to the hospital for her injuries and Dr. Loomis continues his pursuit of his insane mask wearing patient. Michael tracks Laurie to the hospital and begins killing the staff. In what has to be my most favorite movie death ever Michael walks up to nurse freshening up on the side of the therapy hot tub after screwing her boyfriend in it and puts his hands on her shoulder. Mistaking Michael’s big strong hands for her boyfriend’s scrawny ones she begins seductively biting and playing with them until Michael plunges her face into the increasingly scalding hot tub, simultaneously drowning and burning her to death.  That’s what made Michael Myers so bad ass. He worked with the tools he was given. Soon Dr. Loomis discovers why Michael has such an infatuation for Laurie. She is is his younger sister and on top of that he may have been born under an occult ceremony which explains his nigh unkillabilty. Loomis arrives at the hospital in time to save Laurie, but too late to save others on the hospital staff as Micheal has been very busy. Michael chases them stabbing Loomis while “Annie Oakley” Laurie goes all Red Ryder and shoot both of Michael’s eyes out! Still Micheal comes after them so they retreat to an operating room which Loomis fills with gas giving Laurie a chance to escape before he ignites it burning both him and Michael to death.

But you can’t keep a profitable franchise down and Michael Myers would come back in Halloween 4, after a forgettable pumpkin faced monster became the focus of Halloween 3, with each new movie seemingly retconning the previous one before it.

How? Originally referred to as “The Shape” (I like that name!) by the creators of Halloween I and II, Myers was written to be the embodiment of pure evil. Something that cannot be killed or understood, it just is. The first Halloween movie was made for the bargain price of $300,000 by John Carpenter but made over 70 million at the box office. For a long time Halloween was the most successful independent movie ever made with a 11,000% return on it’s budget. However, because the budget was low the film crew had to skimp when they could to save money. As most people know the mask he wears was just a Captain Kirk mask found at the store and painted white. I could never see Kirk’s face in the mask but hey, it was 1978, everything was cheap junk back then.

Why? Michael Myers is awesome! He’s just this big hulking brute of a man, who keeps coming at you. Again and again and again. Pure evil. He never talks, never makes a sound which makes the blank stare on his expressionless white mask all the more terrifying. (He’s smart enough to know if he did talk it would all come out as mumbles). And without question he has the most terrifying theme music of any character in film. Those simple alternating piano notes keep coming at you as relentlessly as Michael Myers himself. They put you on alert, it almost sounds like an alarm, which only increases the tension in the movie and puts you on the edge of your seat. The theme song was one of the first songs my best friend taught himself to play on his old Casio keyboard. Even then it was always disturbing to hear.

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As I mentioned earlier Michael Myers was just that goofy guy in the white mask to many of my friends, but time has made him arguably one of the most popular movie villains around 36 years later. His movies have been remade by Rob Zombie in two recent reboots that explored a lot more of his early childhood. Young Michael had a disturbing tendency to kill animals and create paper mache masks now. And  he was even a playable character in the latest Call of Duty game, Ghosts so you can run around and stab your friends to death. Michael Myers is scary because he is just a man and his films are therefore more grounded. They are more believable. More based in reality. He’s just a guy, with a knife. And he will kill you.

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  • sometimes I pee when I laugh

    You say he’s scarier than Freddy and Jason because he’s just a man… and then go on to talk about how he can’t be killed. He’s as much of a monster as the other two; after all, they were both humans at one point, too!

    Scream’s Ghostface is a better example of a truly human slasher.

    • That’s a good point. And it’s worth noting that when they made him more occult and supernatural in later films is when he became more cartoonish and less real.