I honestly thought I would be talking about this franchise later in the month. Oh well. Today we’re talking about the Halloween franchise and its breakout character Michael Myers.
The Halloween franchise has been around for a long time, and it seems that it will be around forever. Michael Myers (not to be confused with the comedian of the same name) is one of the most iconic slasher villains, despite the fact that we know so little about him. On second thought, he might be so iconic because we know so little about him.
As much as I like some of the individual movies in the Halloween franchise, the franchise itself has some serious problems. There are multiple continuity issues, and
The first Halloween film in 1978 starts with Michael Myers murdering his sister on Halloween night and being arrested shortly afterwards. Michael Myers is only six or seven years old at this time. The film jumps ahead fifteen years, where Michael escapes from the mental institute that he has been in since he murdered his sister. He proceeds to steal a disguise, including a William Shatner mask that has been painted white. I don’t know what’s more bizarre, that he thought that such an odd looking mask would make a good disguise or that there were William Shatner masks in the 1970’s.
Michael then starts stalking a high school student named Laurie on Halloween, while the psychiatrist that was treating Michael tries to track him down. After killing a bunch of Laurie’s friends, Michael attacks her. She survives long enough for the doctor to shoot Michael until he falls off the balcony. The movie ends on a cliffhanger as Michael’s body disappears, leaving Laurie and the doctor to realize that the nightmare hasn’t ended yet.
The next film in the franchise was 1981’s Halloween II. Unlike with most horror movie sequels, this film starts with the ending of the previous film. It’s in this film that it’s revealed that Laurie is Michael’s sister, but none of the films ever reveal the reason why Michael is obsessed with murdering his family members.
Laurie is in a hospital being treated for her injuries, so Michael has to murder his way through the hospital staff and police officers. Laurie manages to shoot Michael in the eyes, which should kill him but only manages to blind him. At the end, the psychiatrist from the first film sacrifices himself to blow up Michael.
The third film in the franchise had no continuity with the previous two films at all. 1982’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch told a story that had nothing to do with Michael, Laurie, or the doctor. This was because the creators of the first two films wanted the Halloween films to be an anthology series, telling a different story with each film. I think they shot themselves in the foot when they made Halloween II a continuation of the events of Halloween, but who am I to judge?
Halloween III is kind of a confusing film, even by horror movie standards. It tells the story of an evil businessman named Conal Cochran that creates cursed Halloween masks that will kill children when a commercial airs on Halloween night. The hero of the film has to fight an android created by Cochran and eventually try to convince the television stations not to air the commercial that will trigger the brain-killing effect in the masks.
I told you it was weird.
Apparently the third film bombed hard, so the filmmakers decided to make the next film about Michael Myers again. This led to 1988’s Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. You know your film franchise is in trouble when you have to use the title to reassure your fans that their favorite character is in it. This film picks up ten years after Halloween II, with Michael waking up from the coma he was in after being blown up at the end of that film.
In this film, Michael is stalking Laurie’s daughter Jamie, as Laurie had died years earlier in a car accident. The psychiatrist learns the Michael has escaped and proceeds to hunt him down. No, the movie never explains how the psychiatrist survived the explosion. We’re not supposed to notice little things like how most people die when they’re in an explosion.
Michael is once again defeated by being shot until he falls down (this time into a mine shaft). The movie has a rather dark ending, as it implies that Jamie may be turning into a deranged killer like Michael. It even goes so far as to have her wear the same costume that Michael wore at the beginning of Halloween.
This plot thread was mostly ignored in 1989’s Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. I hate to say it, but you simply can’t call revenge on someone when they were only trying to not be murdered by you. Anyway, this film takes place one year after the previous film, with Michael spending that year in a coma recovering from his injuries.
Meanwhile, Jamie is still being treated for her psychological trauma, with no mention of the time that she killed (or tried to kill) someone at the end of the previous film. The film does mention that Michael and Jamie have a psychic connection, which doesn’t really make sense for these films.
Unlike with most slasher films, or even most horror films for that matter, Michael is beaten unconscious and arrested. The film ends with him having escaped police custody, and Jamie lamenting that Michael is still out there. On a side note, this is one of the few horror movie franchises I’ve seen where they keep leaving the door open for the villain to return in the next film. Most horror films will kill off the villain in one movie, and then have to explain how the villain is alive again in the next film.
While there were some continuity problems before, 1995’s Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers is the point where this particular franchise truly starts to enter “continuity hell”. The psychiatrist from the previous films is alive and well again, despite having died at least twice in the series so far. Michael and Jamie were revealed to have been kidnapped by a cult at some point in 1988, and it’s revealed that the reason that Michael is obsessed with killing his family members has to do with a curse called the Thorn.
Apparently according to this film, anyone cursed with the Thorn is compelled to murder their blood relatives on Halloween. This is the single most bizarre thing in the Halloween franchise, if we ignore the whole “using Halloween masks and commercials to melt the brains of children” nonsense from Halloween III. The ending of the film is confusing, as there is no explanation of what happens to Michael or the psychiatrist at the end. Granted, the actor that had played the psychiatrist for all of the films had died during the production of this film, so that limited what they could do with the character somewhat.
The rest of the movies in this franchise are pretty much the example I use when I have to describe the concept of “continuity hell” to someone. 1998’s Halloween H2O: 20 Years Later takes the premise that the films after Halloween II never happened, with the original actress that played Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis, in case you didn’t know) returning to reprise the role. 2002’s Halloween: Resurrection is a direct sequel of this film and kills of the Laurie character again, this time onscreen. Then there were two films that were part of a rebooted continuity (2007’s Halloween and 2009’s Halloween II), which went into pretty weird territory. And of course, I have to mention the movie that will be released this year (2018, for those of you reading this in the future), Halloween. The new film brings back Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie, despite the fact that Laurie has already died twice already in these films.
As a character, Michael Myers is both a great villain and confusing as hell. He never says a word, which works great for a dark and mysterious villain. His main flaws as a character is that the audience never knows exactly why he’s trying to kill his family. Also, he is way more resilient than he really should be, even given the degree of strength and toughness that we usually associate with crazy people.
Well, we gave things a stab with Michael Myers. Tomorrow we’ll tackle the other guy that wears a mask and kills people with a knife. That’s right, we’ll be discussing the popular villain of the Friday the 13th franchise, Nameless Hobo.
Of course I know he has a name, but I’ll explain what I mean tomorrow.