Sure, there's also A Nightmare on Elm Street's Freddy Krueger, but he's a different sort of villain than these two masked killers. Rather than wise-crack in the dream world, Michael and Jason silently stalk their victims in the real world, each possessing inhuman strength and durability, and seeming to enjoy nothing more than shoving a sharp object into soft flesh.
But which one is better: Myers or Voorhees? In this piece, we'll answer that question by breaking the pair down into 10 key categories and, ultimately, reach a conclusion based on our findings. (Note that this will be based on movies alone and won't take the massively upgraded, futuristic Jason X version of Voorhees into consideration).
The respective backgrounds of Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees couldn't be more different.
Michael Myers was born a psychopath. There's no rhyme or reason for his murderous nature, he was born bad and, at the age of just six, he inexplicably stabbed his older sister Judith to death with a kitchen knife.
Jason Voorhees was a relatively normal child, but he was born with hydrocephalus and had an abnormally large head as a result. He was bullied because of his condition, but he didn't turn murderous until he drowned due to the neglectful camp counselors who were supposed to be watching him.
Winner: Michael Myers. There's something incredibly creepy about a child suddenly snapping, then spending the rest of his life as a mute psychopath.
Both Myers and Voorhees are physically stronger than any average, real-world human could possibly be, but the extent to which that's the case differs greatly.
Myers can remove, lift, and carry a heavy gravestone, casually lift adult men off the ground with one hand, snap people's necks, and crush skulls with his bare hands.
Voorhees, however, became insanely strong when he was resurrected as a zombie. He has ripped his victims' limbs clean off, snapped them in half, torn their hearts out with his bare hands, and decapitated a young boxer with a single punch.
Winner: Jason Voorhees. There's no debating it — Voorhees is simply stronger than Myers.
It isn't just increased strength that Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees possess — they are both superhumanly durable, as well.
Myers has endured and survived being shot and stabbed multiple times (including in the brain and heart). He's been hit by cars, crushed, electrocuted at high voltage, and sustained severe scalds over his body.
Voorhees has endured and survived similar injuries — being stabbed, shot, and electrocuted for example — but he's also survived the effects of a boat propeller, toxic waste, a house explosion, a roof collapsing on him, and an absolute trouncing at the hands of Freddy Krueger. As a zombie, he is also functionally immortal and can regenerate from almost any trauma. Even when he's supposed to be "dead," his body doesn't decay in the same way normal people do. Plus, he can be revived, such as when lightning revived his corpse, when Tina Shepard telepathically revived him, or when Freddy Krueger resurrected him to do his bidding.
Winner: Jason Voorhees. While both villains are extremely hard to put down, Voorhees has taken more damage and come back from worse injuries.
Neither Michael Myers nor Jason Voorhees is known for their intelligence — they have one-track minds that instinctively tell them to "kill, kill, kill" — but they're both high-functioning and certainly aren't completely stupid (they've both used psychological tactics and waited for the right time to strike, for example).
But, Myers has also shown the ability to drive throughout the Halloween series, as well as the ability to plan, such as when he switched clothes with a paramedic and crushed his voice box to make Laurie Strode think it was him. He also found Laurie Strode in California after she had faked her own death in an attempt to avoid him.
Voorhees has demonstrated some cunning, as well. He's set traps for his victims, restrained them to avoid detection, and has an impeccable sense of direction, always finding his way back to Camp Crystal Lake (even after having been in faraway places, such as Manhattan).
Winner: Tie. Neither character is ever going to rival Einstein in terms of intelligence, but they're both capable killers on roughly the same level as each other.
As is the case with most horror movie killers, both Myers and Voorhees can seemingly appear out of nowhere, even when their victims have been running and the killers appear to be ambling along at a much slower pace.
Michael has managed to avoid being found when an entire town's police force has been out searching for him and, most impressively, he was able to remain elusive in a house full of reality TV cameras in Halloween: Resurrection.
While he's also capable of keeping a low profile and popping up out of nowhere, the best example of Jason's stealth came in Jason Takes Manhattan. Jason killed Charles after he had seemingly escaped the masked murderer by fleeing into a random building — and that's not quite on the same level as Myers'.
Winner: Michael Myers. Both killers are extremely surreptitious in their methods, but managing to stay hidden while in full view of a series of live cameras gives Myers the edge.
WEAPON OF CHOICE
It's not as though Myers and Voorhees limit themselves to one weapon when it comes to killing. Between them, they've utilized an ice pick, a hammer, a meat cleaver, barbed wire, surgical tools, ice skates, a corkscrew, an ax, a pitchfork, scissors, a knitting needle, a tent peg, and their bare hands, amongst other things.
But don't get us wrong: both have a signature weapon.
Myers' weapon of choice is a kitchen knife, the weapon he first used to kill his older sister when he was a child. The shorter blade allows him to look his victims dead in the eye from behind his mask as he plunges it into them, stabbing rather than slashing. The weapon is a genre classic, famously used in Psycho back in 1960 and in countless horror movies since, such as Child's Play and Scream.
Voorhees prefers a machete, which allows for a greater range of motion but less intimacy when he kills, something Myers thrives on. It also means he can take off limbs and heads with a single swipe, which is undoubtedly an effective move.
Winner: Michael Myers. Both the kitchen knife and machete are efficient killing tools, but you simply can't beat the classic knife.
The horror genre is littered with iconic props — Freddy Krueger's glove, Billy the Puppet, and Lemarchand's Box, for example — but none are more iconic than the masks worn by Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees.
Myers' haunting mask was famously created by production designer Tommy Lee Wallace, using a Captain Kirk mask painted white. Who knew William Shatner could be so terrifying? It's a unique prop that caused nightmares for millions of movie fans around the world.
Voorhees, however, wears a hockey mask. Granted, it's changed the way the world looks at hockey masks, but it's still just a hockey mask. Thousands of hockey goalies around the world had worn it before Jason ever did, and fictional characters like Casey Jones (of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame) and Rick Taylor (of Splatterhouse fame) have done so since.
Winner: Michael Myers. His creepy mask is completely unique and was created through genius means. It's far scarier than a hockey mask could ever be.
Both the Halloween and Friday the 13th franchises are part of horror movie folklore, but the quality of the movies within them vary wildly.
1978's Halloween is one of the greatest horror movies of all time and currently has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 93 percent. Its influence can be felt throughout the horror genre, including in the Friday the 13th series, and it formed the blueprint for all slashers and the model against which all subsequent movies of its kind are judged. The series has had its ups and downs since the original movie — the likes of Halloween 5, 6 and Resurrection were terrible, for example — but, overall, the franchise has been enjoyable with interesting new ideas introduced throughout.
1980's Friday the 13th (which didn't feature Jason as the killer, remember) has a modest Rotten Tomatoes score of 61 percent and has been compared unfavorably to Halloween. Since then, while Jason has become far more iconic than his mother, the quality of the movies has never reached that of the first. Silly ideas like dropping Jason in New York didn't work, and while pitting him against Freddy Krueger was a cool concept, the execution was horrific.
Winner: Michael Myers. There's really no comparison. Halloween is the best slasher movie ever made and the reason the Friday the 13th franchise even exists. Moreover, Jason Voorhees wasn't even the killer in the best movie in his franchise.
As we've already made clear, both Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees are undoubtedly horror icons. Only Freddy Krueger can truly claim to be on a par with the masked duo in that regard, while the likes of Pinhead, Chucky, Ghostface, the Creeper, and Jigsaw look on enviously.
Myers is the original slasher killer. His mask is creepy as hell, his blue overalls are as instantly recognizable as the mask, and his favored use of the classic kitchen knife is perfect. He has truly dead eyes that render him almost as supernatural as his ability to appear out of nowhere to claim a kill. He's a horror icon in every sense of the term.
Voorhees' mask might not be an original creation like Myers' and his weapon of choice might not have the same classic charm and finesse as Myers' knife, but he's risen to equal horror infamy. He's an unstoppable killing machine whose methods are as grotesque as his face. He deserves his place in the horror hall of fame alongside the character who inspired him.
Winner: Tie. If you were to place pictures of Myers and Voorhees in front of any movie fan, they'd recognize them both instantly. That says it all.
It's fair to say that, with the passage of time, both Myers and Voorhees have become less "scary." Back in the day, they were the cause of countless nightmares but, as horror has evolved, their impact has dwindled, even with Myers making his comeback this Halloween season.
The original Halloween movie was new and fresh at the time, however. While there had been other cinematic killers such as Norman Bates and the Hewitt family (from Psycho and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, respectively), they stuck to their home turfs and didn't stalk or invade the homes of their victims. So seeing Michael Myers appearing in gardens and bursting out of cupboards was terrifying, as was the inexplicable evil within him. And that mask? It was something else.
By the time adult Jason Voorhees turned psychopathic in Friday the 13th Part 2, he had good reason for doing so, meaning there was less mystery associated with him. He didn't don his hockey mask until the third movie — opting to wear a sack over his head in the second, which was arguably scarier — and the hockey mask just wasn't as creepy as Myers' haunting masked visage. Voorhees was nothing new, so while he did offer scares, the pure shock value of his efforts couldn't compete with Myers'.
Winner: Michael Myers. The mask, the unexplained evil, and the shock value that came with his originality give Myers the edge over his copycat.
The winner is Michael Myers! While both characters are instantly recognizable and equally iconic, and while Myers might not come out on top if he were to get into a physical tussle with the undead Jason Voorhees, he's the original slasher killer with the better mask, a classic weapon, and the star of the better franchise.
(Now, let's not forget the other great age-old horror debate ... )