Revisiting What Made Michael Myers an Icon


So, naturally, I watched the original Halloween again — the one directed by John Carpenter in 1978, not the abysmal re-imagining by Rob Zombie in 2007.

Anyhow, I’ve seen the film a number of times and have written about it at length here and elsewhere (I broke it down for my film studies class — one of the best papers I’ve written in terms of pure enjoyment). However, I still find angles to explore that fascinate me. And here, on this Halloween day, I want to touch on why Michael Myers has endured all these years later.

He’s pure evil. Seems simple enough? Let me explain, though.

The film starts out with Michael Myers as a six-year-old kid in a clean, white, middle-class suburb with two parents and a sister. We don’t exactly know much about his childhood, maybe his parents were abusive fucks or maybe they weren’t, but we do know that he already had the upper-hand at the very minimum of being situated within that white and middle-class suburb.

And yet, at six — six! — he takes a knife to his sister. While she’s naked, no less. While he’s doing it, he watches the knife plunge into her breasts. Both of these are reoccurring themes throughout the film — him admiring/watching his kills and the psycho-sexual component.

But I think this is what makes Myers endure — is that he wasn’t given some elaborate background. He’s just fucking evil. He didn’t have a shitty childhood, as Zombie exposed as to in his remake. He’s just evil and he’s persistent — eternal.

And for the record, I don’t hold much store (to use a British phrase) by the later sequels where they introduce that Laurie Strode was Myers’ sister and that was his motivation for going after her. In the original, that’s not a storyline and Myers goes after them because they’re in his hometown of Haddonfield and he wants to kill them.

I find that far more fascinating because we can project our own fears and worries onto him and into him rather than have it spelled out to us, which of course brings us to the other obvious reason Myers has sustained for so long: the mask itself, which is blank, which allows for that projection.

The other cool thing, somewhat unrelated to my overall point here is that Myers understands the inevitability of death — death of which he is the purveyor. Because he plays with his kills. He stalks them. He sets up elaborate presentations for them. He startles and freaks them out. All before killing them. He walks slow to catch up to them. Because he knows their death will come at his hand eventually. He is death incarnate. That’s an insight I hadn’t really thought of before in all my writing about this film, but it makes sense to me.

Myers endures because his character is imaginative and eternal; his contours were not spelled out for us. He’s evil and sometimes, evil doesn’t need to make sense — in point of fact, it just doesn’t make sense no matter how much digging one does.

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