Editor's Note: Special contributor Andrew Peters contributes this piece from ParanormalPopCulture, where he writes about horror for the paranormal entertainment site.
Thirty-seven years ago, a low-budget horror film directed by then-relatively unknown director John Carpenter would become a staple in the horror genre and spawn countless clones for years to come.
Its legacy is known worldwide and its killer is iconic. That blank mask with choppy dark hair, shadowing the eyes of the killer behind it that world would come to know (and love) as Michael Myers. Being that it is the Halloween season, we thought we would take a look back at each film and some of the highlights...
In 1963, on Halloween night, a young boy, Michael Myers, is sent to a mental institution after murdering his sister without reason. Fifteen years later, he returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, Ill., to finish what he started. His psychiatrist Dr. Loomis, must stop him at all costs as he preys on the teenage Laurie Strode and her friends. As her friends are slain one by one, Laurie is chased by The Shape, fighting to stay alive. Finally Dr. Loomis arrives and shoots Michael several times. He sees to Laurie, making sure she is alive; upon returning, Michael is missing and the Halloween music fades in with heavy, muffled breathing, indicating that true evil never dies.
Originally titling his film The Babysitter Murders, apparently director John Carpenter was interested in a sequel to Black Christmas, to which Bob Clark said, "It would be the next year and the guy would have to actually been caught, escape from a mental institution, go back to the house and they would start all over again. And I would call it Halloween."
Man Behind the Mask: Michael Myers was played by fellow film director and friend of John Carpenter, Nick Castle (although Tony Moran was used for the unmasking scene) and young Michael was played by Will Sandin.
Best Kill: "Can't I get your ghost, Bob?" Poor Linda. All she wanted was a cool refreshing beer, sending her boyfriend Bob to fetch for her, only he's stabbed to the wall by Michael. Michael returns, draped in a bed sheet to disguise himself, which Linda mistakes as Bob making a joke. Linda gets annoyed and dials Laurie, only to have Michael strangle her with the telephone cord.
HALLOWEEN II (1981)
Whereas the first Halloween was virtually bloodless, Halloween II is filled with it. Picking up immediately where he left off in the first one, Michael is on the loose and Laurie is taken to the hospital. Michael learns of her whereabouts and wreaks havoc there, claiming the lives of the night staff while Dr. Loomis learns the secret that Laurie Strode is Michael Myers' sister! The heat really turns up at the hospital (pun intended) when Dr. Loomis finally puts an end to Michael by blowing him up, along with himself...allegedly.
Man Behind the Mask: Stuntman Dick Warlock played the shape this round.
Best Kill: "This will sting a little." While searching for Dr. Mixter, Nurse Janet finds him in his office with a syringe jammed in his eye. Backing up toward an open, shadowed doorway, lit in a Giallo-style, she runs into Michael, who appears from the darkness and plunges an empty syringe into her temple, pumping it full of air.
HALLOWEEN III: Season Of The Witch (1982)
This is the Halloween everyone hates because, technically, there is no Michael Myers (unless you count the ad for Halloween on the TV), but it's a personal favorite of mine. A man clutching a Silver Shamrock Halloween mask appears at a hospital, and tells Dr. Challis everyone is going to die. Deciding to investigate the matter with the man's daughter, Ellie, Dr. Challis travels to where the mask was manufactured, Santa Mira. Trouble ensues as the two discover an old Celtic Cult is trying to restore the origin of Halloween by sacrificing all the children of the world, via a combination of a commercial and their masks.
Best Kill: "You shouldn't play with that." Laying in bed one night, Marge starts to play with a button that fell off her son's Silver Shamrock mask, shooting a laser beam in her face that blasts it open and spits up bugs!
HALLOWEEN 4: The Return Of Michael Myers (1988)
Back by popular demand, Michael Myers returns after waking up from a coma by overhearing some hospital workers talking about his niece, Jamie Lloyd, back in Haddonfield with a foster family. He returns home to slaughter everyone between him and Jamie, but her foster sister, Rachel, stands against him, along with a group of locals that gun him down.
Man Behind the Mask: George P. Wilbur stars as the returning Shape.
Best Kill: "Headache!" In the first kill of the movie, Michael claims the life of a hospital worker while being transported by bashing his head up against the ambulance several times, then driving his thumb through the poor soul's skull! This shows you he's much stronger and this isn't the same Michael we've seen before.
HALLOWEEN 5: The Revenge Of Michael Myers (1989)
Jamie, now in a special care center and unable to speak, also shares a telepathic ability with her uncle as he awakes from being gunned down one year later. He comes back to finish what he started, which Dr. Loomis intends to finish. Finally captured rather than killed, Michael is taken to the police station, awaiting transfer when a mysterious man in black enters, killing all of the officers. The two escape as Jamie can't believe the horror.
Man Behind the Mask: Don Shanks wore the mask in this entry.
Best Kill: It's always satisfying when the most obnoxious character gets his comeuppance, like when Michael here gets killed by Michael Myers by getting a garden claw through his face.
HALLOWEEN 6: The Curse Of Michael Myers (1995)
Several years after the previous Halloween, Jamie is escaping with her baby from a cult that protects Michael. Meanwhile, the Strode family, taking up residence in the old Myers house, are being watched by Tommy Doyle, now all grown up. He has a theory about 'the Curse of the Thorn' and Michael's sudden reappearance. Soon, he finds Jamie's baby and with help from a few of the Strodes, they protect the baby from being sacrificed to Michael and giving him ultimate power.
Man Behind the Mask: George P. Wilbur returns as Michael.
Best Kill: "Shock Treatment." Like Halloween 5, there are a handful of obnoxious characters, but the worst by far is Mr. Strode. Luckily (for us), Michael sticks him with a knife, into a fuse box and electrocutes him until his head explodes!
HALLOWEEN H2O (1998)
Twenty years after that terrifying night, Laurie Strode, using the name Kari Tate, is now the dean of a Northern California private school. Michael tracks her down in a final attempt to end that night he started, but she won't go down without a fight, even as he kills her son's friends and her boyfriend. After seemingly putting him down, she steals the ambulance he is in, crashes it and sends him flying out the window, pinning him against a tree...then decapitating him.
Man Behind the Mask: Trying to put an end to Laurie is Chris Durand.
Best Kill: "Hey, I know that guy." Making an early film appearance, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is watching his neighbors home, humbly invites himself to one of her beers and then has an ice skate shoved through his face by Michael.
HALLOWEEN RESURRECTION (2002)
Michael finally kills Laurie after she is locked away in a mental institution due to the events of the last film, and then returns to his home. There, he comes across a reality TV show filming in his house. What can he do but start picking them off one by one? But Michael meets his match in Busta Rhymes (yes, I know how this sounds), who kicks the stuffing out of him, tangling the boogeyman up in electrical cords and seemingly shocking him to death.
Man Behind the Mask: Brad Loree goes head to head with Busta.
Best Kill: Decapitations are one thing, but having your head crushed seems a whole lot worse. Take Jim here, for example. Two of his buddies were already decapitated, so Michael gets a little more creative and crushes his skull like a beer can.
Taking the series back to its roots, using elements of the first two Halloween movies, this film sees a young Michael during his upbringing in a redneck household, until that very night where he brutally murders his sister along with a few others. Years later, after Dr. Loomis fails to help him, Michael escapes and returns home to find his baby sister, Laurie -- and goes as far as to murder her friends and foster family...and a few others for good measure. In the end struggle with Laurie, she shoots him in the head at point blank range.
Man Behind the Mask: Daeg Faerch played the young Michael, while the older version was played by Tyler Mane.
Best Kill: "Batter up!" Adult Michael is fast and efficient with his kills, but young Michael sure was brutal, as he proved here by bashing his sister's head in with an aluminum bat! You don't see the impact as much, but the sound of a skull cracking open accompanied by an increasing wet splattering sound is pretty visceral.
HALLOWEEN II (2009)
A few years have passed, and Laurie is struggling with the events that happened from the first film. Dr. Loomis has written a book, exploiting those details and revealing the true secret that Laurie is Michael's sister. This sends her into a frenzy as Michael, apparently surviving the gunshot and looking like a hobo, returns to find her once again. In the end, after stabbing Dr. Loomis, he is gunned down by the police.
Man Behind the Mask: Chase Wright Vanek replaces young Michael in the sequel, but Tyler Mane returns as the brute force, Michael Myers.
Best Kill: Howard may have been taking his job as a bouncer a little too seriously when he approaches Michael, who's a good foot or two taller than he is. Michael chokeslams him for being insulted, but it doesn't stop there. He stomps on the guy's head until it's literally turned into a mangled mash of skull and teeth, then hangs him up inside by the lights to display him.