Classic Scene: Introducing Michael Myers

Introducing Michael Myers

Halloween (1978)

Dir. John Carpenter

The Scene: John Carpenter throws us into the POV of a stalker when his masterpiece begins. The camera glides around the house peering in through the windows at the teenage couple inside. The unseen voyeur makes his way around back and enters the house, remaining in the shadows so that an exiting boyfriend does not see him.  Eventually a mask covers the camera and the heavy breathing of the character can be heard intertwined with the movie’s iconic score. Through the stalker’s eyes we see a YoungMichaelteenage girl at her vanity who scolds him right before he brutally stabs her multiple times. Once he is done and the young woman is dead on the floor, he calmly walks out the door which is where the camera shifts and two adults rip off the clown mask to reveal this remorseless killer is only a kid.

The Deconstruction: Nowadays it seems as though horror films feel the need to explain everything away for the audience. Who the monster is, their full origin, their killing methods, and whatever else they feel the need to disclose. But in 1978, John Carpenter took a completely different approach when introducing moviegoers to Michael Myers. We see a young boy don a mask to methodically prowl through his house. In the end; a teenager is dead, adults are horrified, and we get our first glimpse of the boogeyman. We do not know why he murdered his sister or if he has done something like this before, but frankly we do not need to know. The unknown motives which drive Michael is what makes him scary.  Carpenter forces the audience into Michael’s POV and they can only watch in terror as he carries out his crimes. Shooting this elaborate scene was saved for the last day of filming, the day before all hands on deck cast and crew alike went to work restoring the outside of the dilapidated house they had used as the Myers house.  Inside a course plotted where they were going to film and made sure the rooms which would be seen on camera were fixed up and restored. As cinematographer, Dean Cundy, hallmovwalked the path mapped out for him wielding his camera, cast and crew members ran ahead of him to ensure the rooms he was about to enter were properly lit. The end result is a beautifully smooth flowing scene which introduces one of cinema’s greatest boogeymen. According to a recent interview John Carpenter says there is only a single cut in the entire scene but it is so imperceptible many viewers have a hard time finding it.

Best Bit: At the very end when Michael’s parents take off his clown mask and we see our killer is just a small boy. His parents can only look on in bewilderment as their little boy is standing there clutching a bloody knife. We can tell from the brief expressions we see that they are confused and maybe expecting something like this while young Michael Myers only stands there with a blank expression.