The Halloween series of films is one of the longest lived and most successful series of slasher horror, with 81 films to date having been made. All but one feature Michael Myers, one of the trio of mass-murderers to have dominated Hollywood slashers in the last 25 years. The others being
Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger of the Friday The 13th and Nightmare On Elm Street series respectively.
In many ways, Michael is the father of them both. Halloween was made in 1978, Friday the 13th was made in 1980 and Nightmare On Elm Street in 1984.
Halloween was the film that spawned the modern slasher genre, with the character of Jason Voorhees being little more than a re-make of Michael Myers2 but gone over-the-top in his trips on cruise ships and in outer space. Without "Halloween", we would not have had Scream, a fact emphasised when the characters in Scream watch Halloween3.
Donald Pleasence: Dr. Loomis
Despite the presence of main villain Michael Myers and famous Hollywood star Jamie Lee Curtis4, the star of the Halloween series is undoubtably that of the talented British actor Donald Pleasence. He also starred in such films as The Great Escape, THX 1138, Fantastic Voyage and The Eagle Has Landed. Perhaps Donald Pleasence's most famous role was as Blofeld in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice. Although the character of Blofeld appears in other Bond films5 it is Donald Pleasence's portrayal of him that is most remembered6. Sadly, Donald Pleasence died in 1995. It is an acknowledgement of his achievement that both Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers, which he died whilst making, and Halloween: H20 are dedicated to him.
Donald Pleasence's character of Dr. Loomis is unique in Horror films as Michael's psychiatrist who is almost as threatening as Michael Myers is. Dr. Loomis is obsessed with Myers, but goes out of his way to protect those threatened by him. He is the only one who understands Michael, and his speeches, where he refers to Michael being 'evil' and 'not human', having 'the blackest eyes, the devil's eyes and suffering from his 'rage' are the highlights of the films.
Michael Myers himself is an interesting villain in his own right. More realistic than the cheap-copy Jason Voorhees, who is also silent and wears a mask, Michael is more believable. His murders are restricted to his relations, those in his house, and those in the way of him murdering his relations and living in his house.
The early Halloween films were very effective in showing events from his view behind the mask, with his breathing the only sound audible, an affect which later, more modern films have sadly avoided. Michael even occasionally gives the impression that he may abandon his rage and killings for a simpler life.
The distinctive, scary, Michael Myers mask curiously started out as a different film star. The mask was simply a William Shatner Star Trek mask with the eyebrows and sideburns removed and sprayed white.
So far, Michael Myers has been played by seven different actors: In Halloween he was played by Tony Moran and Will Sandin played the young Michael. In Halloween II it was Dick Warlock. In Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers and Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers it was George P. Wilbur who so far is the only actor to play Michael Myers more than once. In Halloween 5: The Revenge Of Michael Myers it was Donald L. Shanks. Chris Durand played Michael Myers in Halloween: H20, and most recently, Brad Loree played him in Halloween: Resurrection.
Although less memorable than Freddy Krueger, who has a distinct sense of humour and clearly enjoys his cunning murders, Michael Myers is a more purposeful, human and believable murderer than Jason.
Jamie Lee Curtis: Laurie Strode
Jamie Lee Curtis' character of Laurie Strode is less effective. In the first two Halloween films, Laurie Strode does little except scream, cry, hide and whimper, and is pretty much an average character for a slasher. Halloween H20 does little to improve on this impression as Laurie Strode still screams, hides and whimpers, suffering nightmares of her early attacks, but is also an alcoholic.
Even when she decides to return to fight Myers in a duel to the
death she ends up screaming and running from Michael most of the time. Her one redeeming moment is when she decides to kidnap Michael's body, push him off the hillside and decapitate him.
Even then we are told in Halloween: Resurrection that it wasn't Michael she killed after all. By this time she has spent the last 3 years locked up in a lunatic asylum starring out a window, not talking. Although she succesfully springs a well-calculated trap on Michael she is unable to go through with it and gets herself killed. Overall, not a character one roots for or even pities.
Deaths In Halloween
Scream, 1996, famously created a theory on why characters in horror films are killed. This is Randy's Three Rules theory, which suggests that characters in horror films are killed because:
- They have had sex.
- They have drunk alcohol or taken drugs.
- They have said, "I'll be back."7
Halloween is the horror film which dominates Scream. In the opening it is Halloween that Drew Barrymore's character of Casey says is her favourite horror film, and it is Halloween which is watched throughout.8 It is Halloween's John Carpenter composed music that creates much of the tension in it. However, to what extent is this actually true of the Halloween series itself?
By taking an in-depth look9 at those who die in the Halloween films actually reveals a different pattern. Although those who drink and have sex are indeed murdered like clockwork, deaths are more likely to be career related with vast numbers of police and security guards being killed, followed
by members of the medical profession. Mechanics and sheriffs' daughters are also at-risk groups, with none ever surviving a Halloween film.
At the moment, the future of Halloween is uncertain. Both recent films, Halloween H20 and Halloween: Ressurection were successful, and rumours about what the next Halloween film will be about are rife. One persistant rumour ties in with a recent Hollywood trend in Horror films. Instead of making inferior re-makes and calling them sequels, Hollywood have started making inferior re-makes of horror films, and called them re-makes, for example Psycho, The Ring, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and rumours suggest that Halloween will be next.
Other rumours are circulating that after the success of Freddy v. Jason, a Freddy v. Michael or film with a similar theme involving Michael Myers will soon be made. It is even possible that Hollywood may make an ordinary, old fashioned sequel...
Related H2G2 Articles:
- Cinematic Works:
- Night Of The Living Dead
- Peeping Tom and Psycho
- Queen Of The Damned
- The Crow
- The Exorcist
- The Wicker Man
- Hammer - Birth Of A Studio
- Great Horror Films
Halloween: H20, the characters watch Scream, but not the scene in Scream where they watch Halloween.4Who has appeared in A Fish Called Wanda, Fierce Creatures and True Lies5Played by Anthony Dawson in From Russia With Love, and Thunderball, Charles Gray in Diamonds Are Forever, Telly Savalas in On Her Majesty's Secret Service and Max von Sydow in Never Say Never Again.6It is Donald Pleasence's portrayal of Blofeld that the Austin Powers' Dr. Evil is based on, played by Mike Myers (Presumably no relation to Halloween's Michael Myers!)7Presumably this rule does not apply to Arnold Schwarzenegger.8Although Prom
Night, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Psycho and Friday The 13th are also mentioned.9Although taking an in-depth look would normally spoil the plot, with slasher horror films such as Halloween, there isn't really a plot to spoil...