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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hump-Day Harangue: Which Michael Myers Is Scarier?

Earlier this week, I took part in a roundtable discussion over at HorrorBlips.com on what appeared to me to be a very one-sided topic. The question that was posed to bloggers like myself, Stacie Ponder of Final Girl, BC of Horror-Movie-a-Day, Bryan White of Cinema Suicide and others, was this: Which version of Michael Myers is scarier, John Carpenter's original character, or the version created by Rob Zombie for his remake?

Yes, I know, who in their right mind would choose the new Michael, right? Well, that's what I thought too, and lo and behold, not a single blogger polled did so. In other words, it was a landslide for Carpenter's Shape.

For those of you who haven't had an opportunity to check out the article at HorrorBlips, here is my contribution:

I would say, hands down, that John Carpenter's original conception of Michael Myers is the more frightening version. The mistake that Rob Zombie made was giving us way too much background information on Michael, almost trying to make him sympathetic.

The complete mystery of the original is far superior—it's almost as if Michael is less a person and more a force of nature. In the remake, we are made to understand how Michael got the way he is, and why he kills. In the original, we have no idea why—he seems to be just a normal little boy who one day decides to start killing people. This is far more chilling.

I understand why Zombie did what he did; obviously he felt he needed to add something, rather than simply regurgitate what Carpenter had already done. Unfortunately, however, the result points out even more clearly why a remake was pointless in the first place—from a creative standpoint, anyway.

So what do you say, HorrorBlips? Next time, give us a question we can really debate. This one was a no-brainer!

7 comments:

Karl Hungus said...

Honestly, it's a case of less is more. The Alien was scarier because of how sparingly it was shown in the film. That's true of characters as well, too much characterization and backstory kills the mystery of a character.

Hannibal Lecter was far more unnerving when he appeared in Silence of the Lambs, but when later backstory was written in Hannibal Rising, it robbed the character of something.

Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Men is downright frightening, and we know almost nothing of the character. Likewise Frank in Blue Velvet, or Annie in Misery. Characters are scarier the less we know about them.

B-Sol said...

That's exactly it in a nutshell. The mystery is what makes him to terrifying. The unknowability.

The Horror Press said...

Agree, with Karl Hungus... it's the mystery that scares us... We didn't know nothing about the original Michael in terms of why he killed, we only knew he had darkness inside of him.

Wings said...

Totally agree with all of you - the original Myers is head-and-shoulders above the 'new Michael'.

The pure randomness of Michael running around killing when he seems to come from a typical, ordinary family life is chilling, creepy and just damn scary.

Zombie doesn't get the "less is more" approach, at all.

Anonymous said...

I personaly like all of Rob Zombie's movies. The original Michael Myers, is very creepy. But, I find the new mask to be creepy too, but, maybe in a different way. I find it lately that people cannot go to the movies for pure enjoyment anymore. Why must everyone find the need to rip apart movies instead of getting lost in them and thinking outside the box!

RayRay said...

I agree with Karl, et al. I would also like to point out, for my own, ahem, edification, that I made he same point in my review of the new Halloween for The Vault.

I do think that Zombie, a talented film maker, was in a bit of a bind in remaking Halloween, inasmuch as he did not want to make a completely rote, shot for shot redeux. So he went out on a limb and added the backstory, and on the whole he does a good job.

While I feel that making Michael a sympathetic character takes away from the power and horror of the character, to watch the boy devolve into a complete monster does have chilling value. It is also noteworthy that after seeing her little boy, whom she didn't do enough to protect, commit atrocious acts of murder and mayhem even while under lock and key causes Momma Meyers to kill herself, leaving Michael essentially alone, and completing his pathology. This was, in the realm of the backstory, a nice touch.

As I concluded, though, in making Michael a troubled kid who kills animals and moves on to people makes him one of thousands, rather than the one of a kind 6 year old who butchers his older sister for no discernable reason.

kindertrauma said...

I'd go with Carpenter's definitely, besides the mystique, he's much sleeker and more anonymous looking and could arguably pass through suburban backyards relatively undetected. I think RZ's creation is scary but anyone would know from 5 blocks away not to go anywhere near him!

Really, as long as they don't bring back the look of Halloween 5, I'm happy though.-Unk

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