Festival of Fiendishness Day 5: MICHAEL MYERS
I’ve never really been a fan of the slasher flick. Aside from never being able to see myself in those situations, the entire thing seemed like too much work—killers would come up with newer and more inventive ways to kill stupid teenagers. They’re stupid, horny teenagers—how much effort do you really need to kill them? Crossbows and bear traps and razor gloves…I mean, come on! But there was one guy who figured it out, who kept it simple, stupid: the most straightforward cinematic serial killer ever—and today’s villain du jour—Michael Myers.
If you haven’t seen Halloween by now, I’m not giving you a spoiler alert, I’m passing out tardy slips. Study up, Poindexter, we’re going to school. Skip the Saw, Hills Have Eyes, Hostel, Human Centipede nonsense (though that last one is REALLY fucked up), Michael Myers is the pinnacle of the faceless slaughterer of frisky teenagers. He isn’t part of the genre; he is the genre. He started it. And he sets the bar pretty freaking high: the movie starts with this kid grabbing a butcher knife out the kitchen, going upstairs to watch his sister screw her boyfriend, then hacking her naked body to pieces while wearing a clown costume. The boy was 6. Six. That’s our introduction to Mike. This cat ain’t right.
The next time we see Mike, he’s busting out of the mental institution, stealing cars from his own therapist (who spends the entire movie ignoring police, trying to get his patient back), jacking truck drivers for jumpsuits. He heads back to Haddonfield, intent on killing Jamie Lee Curtis, and happens to off EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO CROSSES HIS PATH. Mike killed dogs, dug up his mother’s grave, strangled the cop’s daughter in the car. He dressed up like a ghost and pretended to be a girl’s boyfriend just so he could look at her naked before he killed her.
Mike has problems.
Like real problems. But Michael Myers is a G: he got stabbed in the neck with a knitting needle, stabbed in the eye with a coat hanger (Mommie Dearest would be furious! NO WIRE HANGERS!), took six shots to the chest and fell of the balcony. AND GOT UP AND WALKED AWAY. They had to stick him in a hospital room and blow it up and he still stomped his flaming ass down the hallway after Jamie. I’ve written about focus before but you gotta give Mike credit on this one—he was the original Terminator.
But here’s what I really like about Michael Myers: stripped down to his basic elements, he’s just a guy in a jumpsuit with a knife, chasing a girl for no reason at all. He has no face. He doesn’t run. He doesn’t say shit—in fact, he’s been in like 8 or 9 movies and has never said a word. You might get some heavy breathing, but Mike has nothing to say. Skip the Rob Zombie remake, go back to the source material. Michael Myers never says anything. To anybody.
Halloween came out in 1978. Less than 10 years after Manson and the Zodiac Killer. But those horrible things happened far away, right? In California somewhere, not the Midwest. Not Haddonfield, Illinois. Not in our backyards. We didn’t even have kids on milk cartons then. Halloween puts this horror right in our communities, chasing after the people who watch our children, killing the children of police officers. But what truly makes Michael Myers terrifying, what makes him one of the most incredible villains to grace the screen is there is no “why” to him. No rationale. You never know why he does what he does. He simply is. Like a tornado.
Michael Myers made fear a suburban reality and he did it with a William Shatner mask, a jumpsuit and a butcher knife. And that, my friends, is what makes him awesome.
Tomorrow, tomorrow we’ll look at the dude who stomped a mudhole in Superman’s red and blue tights: DOOMSDAY!