Horror’s Icons: Michael Myers
HALLOWEEN JUST GOT SCARIER
John Carpenter is a great director with a great list of films. But no film is attached to Carpenter more than his 1978 low-budget horror Halloween. And just as Jason is synonymous with Friday the 13th and Freddy with Elm Street, Halloween is not Halloween without Michael Myers. If you don’t believe me, just ask people that were disappointed by the third installment of the franchise!
Michael Myers, also known as The Shape, is the boogeyman responsible for terrorizing Haddonfield throughout the original Halloween series and then again in Rob Zombie’s reboot of the franchise. Wearing just simple blue coveralls and donning an altered “Star Trek” William Shatner mask, Myers was the little boy that killed his sister and grew up to continue his thirst for blood. But to know the whole story on Michael, let’s look at his run through horror film history.
PURELY AND SIMPLY… EVIL
In Halloween, we meet a six-year-old Michael Myers being taken into custody after he stabbed his sister Judith to death. After 15 years at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, Michael escapes and heads back home to Haddonfield, Illinois. There, he stalks the town’s local babysitters on Halloween night, killing them one by one. When he attacks Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), Michael’s attack is thwarted by his psychiatrist (and the only person who knows Michael is more than just a man) Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence). But after being shot several times and falling through a window, Michael is gone when Dr. Loomis and Laurie look for him. The film ends but Michael’s reign of terror has just begun.
In 1981, Halloween II was released and picked up right where the original film ended with Dr. Loomis and Laurie looking for Michael Myers. But when Laurie goes to Haddonfield’s local hospital, Michael follows her and kills anyone that gets in his way. As the cat-and-mouse game is played between Laurie and Michael in the hospital, Dr. Loomis arrives to assist Laurie once again.
Eventually, it is revealed that Laurie is in fact Michael’s sister and she was given up for adoption as an infant. This big revelation leads to an epic showdown between brother, sister, and psychiatrist. Michael traps both Dr. Loomis and Laurie in an operating room and is about to finish his job when Dr. Loomis distracts Michael long enough for Laurie to escape. After she leaves the room, Dr. Loomis causes an explosion setting Michael on fire. Michael then walks toward Laurie once again until finally collapsing and, presumably, dying.
MISSING IN ACTION AND THE RETURN
The Halloween franchise returned in 1982 with Halloween III: Season of the Witch, but Michael Myers did not return with this film. Instead, the people in charge thought it would be better to keep the franchise going with other horror stories and drop the iconic killer. So they created a story about Halloween mask that would kill the people that wear them. Not a bad movie on its own, but it is no Halloween movie. The movie-going audience wanted Michael Myers. And after this film, the studio listened and brought Michael back to the big screen in 1988’s Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers.
In this fourth installment, the audience learns that Michael did survive the fire from the second film, but has been in a coma since then. But while being transported back to Smith’s Grove, Michael awakens. He overhears that Laurie eventually died in a car accident but had a daughter named Jamie Lloyd. He escapes and heads to Haddonfield in search of Jamie. Hearing about his escape, Dr. Loomis, who also survived the fire, heads to Haddonfield to spoil Michael’s plans. Michael is eventually stopped and gunned down.
The next year saw the release of Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, which continued the story from the last film. Michael tracks down Jamie, who is living in a children’s mental health hospital. After dispatching anyone who tried to get in his way, Michael runs into Dr. Loomis once again, who helps the local police to take Michael into custody. But after he is imprisoned, Michael is broken out of jail by a mysterious stranger dressed in black. And no, it wasn’t Johnny Cash!
The story would again continue with 1995’s Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. Approximately six years after the last film, Michael is aided by the mysterious stranger, who has captured Jamie and her newborn baby. Michael finally kills Jamie but she hid her baby from Michael. Tommy Doyle, the young boy Laurie babysat in the original film, finds the baby and, along with the people that moved into the Myers’ house, protect the baby from Michael. But when the mysterious stranger reveals himself to be a friend of Dr. Loomis, it looks as though Michael will finally get to kill the last member of his family’s bloodline. That is until Michael turns on the stranger and his followers and Tommy injects Michael with a large amount of tranquilizers. With Michael subdued inside Smith’s Grove, Dr. Loomis goes to find him as the film ends.
TRICK OR TREAT… OR TERROR
Picking up 20 years after the second film, 1998’s Halloween H20: 20 Years Later ignores the events of the last three films and informs the audience that Laurie Strode faked her death and created a new identity to escape her past. She is now a head mistress at a private school where her son also attends. Her continuing fears of Michael returning turn into a reality when Michael tracks her down and attacks her, her son, and a few other students. After stopping Michael, Laurie is still not satisfied and steals his body from the paramedics and decapitates him so that she knows he is truly dead.
But, as revealed in 2002’s Halloween: Resurrection, Laurie killed a paramedic who Michael attacked and switched clothes with. Now in a mental institution, Laurie is attacked and finally killed by Michael. After this, Michael goes home with his demonic mission complete only to find a group of people filming an Internet reality show in his house. He proceeds to do what he does best and kills them all one at a time until he is electrocuted by the last two survivors. With this ending, the original Halloween franchise came to an end. But that didn’t mean that Michael would stay buried forever.
EVIL HAS A DESTINY
In 2007, Michael Myers was reborn with Rob Zombie’s Halloween, a remake of the original classic. This time around, the audience got to see more from Michael’s tormented childhood and his road to becoming a horror icon. After killing his sister and being committed to Smith’s Grove, Michael escapes and heads to Haddonfield to apply his craft. When he finally gets to Laurie, he shows her a picture of them as children to tell Laurie that he is her brother. But that doesn’t phase Laurie and she escapes from his clutches and is aided again by Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell). But this time around, Laurie tries to make sure Michael is dead by shooting him in the head at point-blank range. But we horror fans know that that doesn’t mean a thing.
Rob Zombie released Halloween II in 2009, which was a sequel to the remake that paid homage to the original sequel but also had Rob Zombie’s trademark touches. In the film, Laurie escapes Michael’s clutches at the hospital and then tries to live life with the fact that she is the notorious killer’s sister. Michael remains on the hunt Laurie after seeing visions of their deceased mother who tells Michael that he must kill Laurie so that they can “come home” together. Laurie however also shares these visions and is finally trapped by Michael in a shed near the end of the film. Dr. Loomis arrives to try to reason with Michael but is killed when he is stabbed to death. Michael is then shot down by the police and then stabbed repeatedly by Laurie after she tells her brother she loves him. Laurie then puts Michael’s mask on and leaves the shed. As the film ends, Laurie is seen now as a patient in a mental institute and she is seeing the same vision of her mother that Michael saw.
THE PEOPLE OF THE SHAPE