I have a serious bone to pick with the Halloween franchise.
In 1978, John Carpenter introduced the world to Michael Myers, who was at the time depicted as an almost supernatural shape hell-bent on murdering, with virtually no discernible reasoning, everyone in his path on Halloween night. Just shy of 30 years later, Rob Zombie came along and remade Halloween, and the biggest gripe most fans had with the musician-turned-filmmaker’s updated vision was that Michael’s madness was attributed to little more than a rough childhood and bad parenting. Myers was reduced to a run of the mill serial killer, and Carpenter himself has gone on record as stating that all the backstory served only to suck the mystery and terror out of the character he created.
But even if you hated Zombie’s vision of the franchise, you have to respect one thing about it.
And it’s a BIG thing.
It’s of course no secret by now that the Michael Myers mask in the original Halloween is actually Don Post’s Captain Kirk mask, which was picked up from a local shop by the crew, painted white, and turned into one of the most iconic images in cinema history. The low-budget, outside the box approach worked and it worked with terrifying effectiveness.
That very same mask, worn primarily by Nick Castle, was later reused a few years later in Halloween 2; the role played this time around by Dick Warlock. Weathered from being in storage between films, the mask took on an even creepier look for the 1981 sequel. But alas, from that point forward, Michael Myers unfortunately never looked that good again.
By the time Myers was brought back to life for Halloween 4, the original mask was tossed aside in favor of a new one, and with each subsequent installment, the look of Myers continued to evolve. The same can be said of each of the big franchise icons, but whereas guys like Freddy, Jason, and even Leatherface retained their visual appeal, Michael wasn’t so lucky. In fact, he seemed to look worse and worse every time, and the quality control on the part of the costuming department was so poor that there’s even one scene in Halloween 4 where the mask’s hair inexplicably turns blonde. Worse yet, there’s a moment in Halloween H20 where the mask, believe it or not, is computer-generated.
But glaring errors aside, Michael Myers always looked like a complete joke in the post-Halloween 2 sequels, so much so that watching them back today, it’s hard to even take him seriously; and it’s almost impossible to actually find him intimidating or scary. In Halloween 4, the costume is padded to such an extent that Michael looks like a bloated dude with women’s shoulder pads, and in Halloween 5, the mask has a bizarrely long neck that sticks out over the jumpsuit.
And things got no better from there…
Ironically, the only times Michael Myers actually looked imposing in the original Halloween franchise were the times where the least amount of thought was put into the look of the character. Again, the crew seems to have purchased and converted that Captain Kirk mask on a whim; Tommy Lee Wallace, who went on to direct Halloween 3, reportedly bought the mask for a mere $1.98. So why then, when the budgets were much bigger and the franchise had become a hit money-maker, did the filmmakers have such a hard time with making Michael Myers look halfway decent? We may never know, but one thing is for certain: in the looks department, Rob Zombie totally nailed Myers.
While Zombie’s Halloween may have been a complete remake, the newly-designed Myers mask looked the way the original mask might after sustaining years of abuse; cracked, decaying, and weathered, the mask was the scariest in the franchise’s history, effectively washing the terrible sequel masks from the collective memory of us fans. And the man underneath the mask, Tyler Mane, was the most physically intimidating actor to ever don the overalls, making Myers perhaps even scarier – admittedly unnecessary backstory aside – than the Michael Myers we first met back in 1978.
For Zombie’s Halloween 2, the mask became even more battered and broken, missing an entire chunk after the abuse Myers took in the 2007 remake. Some fans took issue with the fact that the missing piece of the mask revealed a massive beard underneath – a Rob Zombie trademark if there ever was one – but to have an issue with Myers having a beard is to be okay with the fact that Myers takes the time to shave in between Halloweens… I don’t know about you, but I just can’t picture that silliness. “Hobo Myers” is cool in my book.
Did Rob Zombie make the Halloween franchise great again? That’s up for debate. But did he make Michael Myers look cool again? Did he make Michael Myers scary again? With 100% certainty I can say that yes, he absolutely did.
And that damn sure counts for something.