Culture Re-View: How well do you know birthday boy Michael Myers?

Happy Birthday Michael Myers!
Happy Birthday Michael Myers! Copyright Universal Pictures, Dimension Films; Miramax, Blumhouse
By David Mouriquand
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On this day (in fiction), the Halloween franchise’s central character and the ultimate bogeyman, Michael Myers, is born.

I met him fifteen years ago.
I was told there was nothing left: no reason, no conscience, no understanding in even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong.
I met this six year old child with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and... the blackest eyes... the devil's eyes.
I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... evil.
Dr. Samuel Loomis

Halloween may be 12 days away, but today is when we celebrate the (fictional) birthday of the Halloween series’ big lunk of stabby stabby: Michael Myers.

Even if you’re not a horror buff, you’ll have heard of the infamous grandaddy of stalking maniacs.

Myers is the main antagonist of the slasher film series Halloween (with the exception of Halloween III: Season of the Witch, which is a standalone film, as the knowledgeable gorehounds will confirm), and one of the horror genre’s most treasured killers.

He first appeared in John Carpenter's Halloween in 1978, which is thought by many to be the birthplace of the slasher genre. Granted, 1974’s Black Christmas technically beat Halloween to the punch – sorry, slash – but Halloween is the one that popularized the subgenre and cemented the final girl movie trope. 

Since then, there have been 13 titles - spanning from 1978’s Halloween to 2022’s Halloween Ends.

In the original Halloween, Michael first appears as a young boy who murders his older sister, Judith Myers. He is committed to a sanatorium and escapes fifteen years later to stalk and kill the people of his fictional hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois. These include babysitter Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Dr. Samuel Loomis (Donald Pleasence), who acts as the main protagonist trying to stop him.

Then the timelines get really muddled... More on that in a bit.

In preparation for the 31st, here are five facts you didn’t know about your favourite nightmare fuel.

(Oh, and incidentally, type ‘Halloween’ into Google right now – it's delightful.)

The man with no name

Michael Myers in the original Halloween film
Michael Myers in the original Halloween filmFalcon International Pictures

Michael Myers is referred to as “The Shape” in the Halloween script and in the end credits of the first film. His psychiatrist Dr. Loomis calls him “it” and “him” during the runtime. His name came later: Michael Myers, with a middle name too: Audrey. He was named after a former studio head, as John Carpenter wanted to make a tribute to the studio head of Miracle Films, the man who distributed his first film Assault On Precinct 13.

Captain’s log...

Michael Myers
Michael MyersBlumhouse

The original script never described what Michael’s mask looked like. All production designer Tommy Lee Wallace had to go on was to find one that had neutral features. Wallace visited a costume store a purchased a 1975 Captain Kirk mask. He took out then sideburns, removed the hair, and then spray painted the entire thing white to make it more expressionless, and finished the whole thing off by widening the eye holes. So, the ultimate bogeyman was originally James T. Kirk...

The man with many faces

Nick Castle on the set of the original Halloween film
Nick Castle on the set of the original Halloween filmFalcon International Pictures

In the first film, Michael Myers was played primarily by Nick Castle. However, there are some cases where he was played by Tony Moran, specifically when the character is unmasked. Tommy Lee Wallace also played the character, when Michael Myers is inside the closet. In total, he was played by six different performers in the original film, with Will Sandin (baby Michael), Debra Hill (for once scene in which Michael takes a knife out of a kitchen cabinet), and James Winburn (the stuntman who falls off the balcony at the end) all giving it their best. For those of you who are curious, that makes it a total of thirteen actors who have played him (officially and unofficially) over the years, including Chris Durand, Tyler Mane, and James Jude Courtney. Mane and Courtney are the only actors to portray Myers in consecutive films.

Silent for a reason

Michael's back...
Michael's back...Blumhouse

Although there are films that had the character speak (see: the dire Rob Zombie movies), the viewers only ever hear him breathing. This is because Carpenter wanted the character to be the embodiment of evil. Additionally, his utter silence joins his seeming lack of motive and makes him the perfect cypher for metaphorical interpretation.

Multiverse Myers

Laurie faces Michael... AGAIN
Laurie faces Michael... AGAINDimension Films

The Halloween timeline is all over the shop, with four separate timelines. There's the six Halloween films leading up to 1995; the seventh film then wiped out Halloween 4 to 6; Rob Zombie’s Halloween diptych started a new time line entirely; and the naff 2018-2022 legacy sequels saw Jamie Lee Curtis reprise her role as Laurie Strode, who had already been killed off twice before. One continuity (the superior one) has Michael as Laurie’s brother; in another, he’s her father (the continuity where Halloween 4-6 is a thing); and in the most recent reboot, he’s got nothing to do with Laurie apart from she escaped his clutches in the first film. You’d do well to just watch 1978’s Halloween, its excellent sequel Halloween II (1981) and cap it off with the criminally underrated Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998). That forms the perfect trilogy for a Halloween movie marathon, and we won’t hear another word about it.

Well, not really, as it has recently been announced that, after a heated bidding war, Miramax has scored the television rights to the Halloween franchise. Miramax Television has signed a wide-ranging deal to develop and co-produce a Halloween TV series, which is envisioned to potentially launch a cinematic universe spanning film and television.

So, this isn’t the last timeline or actor you’ll be treated to.

But, in the meantime, happy birthday Michael. And stay away, please.

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