Behind the Monsters: “Michael Myers” Review

Shudder’s latest documentary series, Behind the Monsters takes a deep dive into some of the most iconic horror villains of all time.  Via interviews with stars from the movies, as well as film critics and producers, the series is a fascinating descent into the lore of what scares us.

For its premiere episode, Behind the Monsters honed in the OG slasher icon.  Sure, there were slashers before him, but no other character (or franchise) had quite the impact on the genre as Michael Myers and Halloween!

History of Halloween
This episode begins with the original idea that John Carpenter had, and through anecdotal interviews, briefly takes us through the making of that first film, complete with interviews with Jamie Lee Curtis and original “Shape” actor Nick Castle.

It’s really funny to hear how unassuming Castle (and everyone) was making that original movie. He was a classmate of Carpenter’s at USC and just nonchalantly asked if he could be part of the movie. 43 years later, he’s still a legend of horror.

From there, it makes its way through the various ups and downs of the series.  In a lot of ways, it feels like a very abridged version of the much longer series retrospective documentary.  Admittedly though, it is a lot of fun to get to see Nick Castle and current “Shape” actor James Jude Courtney interacting with each other.  There seems to be a real brethren among those who have donned the iconic mask.

History of Evil
What makes this episode interesting however has more to do with its analysis of why Michael Myers has had such staying power.  He’s predated by the likes of Leatherface and Norman Bates, but neither of them had such influence into general pop culture.

The interviewees do a great job of outlining why the mystery behind Myers is what makes him terrifying.  The fact that he’s a motiveless monster who just wants to kill for killing’s sake.  And while they’re not too kind to Rob Zombie’s remakes (of which I’m admittedly a big fan), they point out a very real hypocrisy.

Though we can all agree Halloween: Resurrection is the worst movie.

Zombie’s remakes receive an immense amount of hatred for taking away this mystery around Myers and making him just another serial killer with a motivation.  And if that’s an issue for you, that’s completely understandable.  But those movies were hardly the first time that Myers was given a motive.  And many fans who despise Zombie’s take overlook these other instances.

Making Laurie his younger sister in Halloween II, as well as the entire Cult of Thorn storyline in Curse of Michael Myers also attempted to give him motivations, and this episode rightly points out that he was made less scary in those cases too.

History of a Legend
At its core however, this episode (and series) strike at the heart of why Myers is so iconic.  While the new continuity of Halloween 2018 and Halloween Kills completely ignores the other sequels, it’s because of those countless sequels that the character has stayed in the cultural zeitgeist for so long.

It’s because of all that that this conversation feels so legendary.

Otherwise, Myers would be relegated to ranks of the killers from The Burning, My Bloody Valentine, Prom Night, or any of the other countless 80’s slashers who never had a complete franchise.  Sure they’re interesting characters, but because we never went more than a few years between Halloween movies, Myers has always stayed in society’s recent memory.

Only one episode in, it’s a fascinating series and I’m looking forward to seeing how they cover other horror legends like Chucky and Candyman in upcoming episodes!

Behind the Monsters is streaming exclusively on Shudder, with new episodes every Wednesday

Also, if you’re a fan of 80’s horror, see how you can be a part of the upcoming In Search of Darkness Part III documentary by following this link!

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