Category Archives: Horror Nostalgia

QUINTESSENTIAL QUINTUPLETS: MICHAEL MYERS

To get back into the routine of writing, I’d planned to post one of these each Sunday for the entire year but got caught up in other things. Not even February and I’m already woefully slacking on a New Year’s resolution. That ends now. Like the topic of this particular Top 5 — I’m back.

It occurred to me that I’ve devoted a lot of thought to the best versions of Jason Voorhees, but never to he of the blackest eyes. I set about remedying that, and debated myself incessantly in the process. In the end, however, there can be only one, and I’m at peace with result.

Know one thing: my top Jason is Derek Mears, so the king of this hill is not going to be who you think.

5. GEORGE P. WILBUR / HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS (1988), THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS (1995)

One could refer to HALLOWEEN 4 as universally loved because, honestly, I haven’t met anyone who dislikes RETURN, but that’s where things started to go off the rails a bit so far as Mikey’s concerned. Wilbur certainly can’t be held responsible for the mask, but in ’88 we started venturing away from the classic approach of Nick Castle, and by the time CURSE arrived in ’95, Myers just didn’t feel like Myers anymore. The reality is the chasm between Nos. 4 & 5 and the trio up top makes the Grand Canyon look a drainage ditch. Wilbur was solid enough, but his movement and physicality simply felt skewed. That said, anyone who had the awareness to remove the stoic Shatner after each scene to reassure a 10-year-old Danielle Harris it was all pretend is in my cool book, permanent. Okay, this is pretty sweet, too.

4. DICK WARLOCK / HALLOWEEN II (1981)

Listen, Warlock is a legend in the game. He’s got more than 200 IMDB credits as a stunt performer and held down acting roles in numerous films including THE THING and HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH a year after his dual turns as Myers and Patrolman #3 in the sequel to the immortal classic. Through RESURRECTION (2002), Warlock deviated the least from the original construct–while upping Myers’ “not to be fucked with” street cred–and as such, secures the top spot just outside the medal podium. Warlock was good but not great. All right, Ima bounce on down to the bronze section before Patti stabs my ass for disrespecting her boy.

3. TYLER MANE / HALLOWEEN (2007), HALLOWEEN II (2009)

However you feel about Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEENs, it’s challenging to make an argument against Tyler Mane being the ideal choice for Zombie’s “unique vision of a legendary tale”. Myers had long been an insatiable killing machine by the time Mane’s enormous 6-foot, 9-inch frame entered stage left, which meant things went from dire to hopeless with the quickness. So, I don’t care that Mane’s iteration spoke or about the ceaseless, petty yammering of “purists” because this Shape absolutely annihilated Annie (Danielle Harris) and Nurse Daniels (Octavia Spencer), and dispatched with Big Joe Grizzly’s (Ken Foree) similarly gigantic ass with such unnatural ease I wouldn’t have been the least bit shocked to discover “abandon all hope ye who enter here” scribbled on the stall wall. Mane’s brutality is, was, and ever shall be something to behold.

2. NICK CASTLE / HALLOWEEN (1978)

Look, Castle is the OG. Nothing can ever diminish his contribution to the franchise, but at a certain point, let’s take a look. John Carpenter wanted Castle because of his graceful fluidity of movement. “Just walk, Nick” is a phrase we’ve all heard time and again since 1978. And shit was effective, it got the job done. But Castle never strolled the streets of Haddonfield outside of The Shape’s mystery and subtlety–which he played to perfection–but for me, the top spot calls for complexity. His greatness is beyond dispute, but I’m not going to award Castle top billing just because he was first in line.

1. JAMES JUDE COURTNEY / HALLOWEEN (2018), HALLOWEEN KILLS (2021), HALLOWEEN ENDS (2022)

No one would ever confuse me with inhuman patience, but I was waitin’ on a Shape to emerge that channeled the grace of Castle with the brutality of Mane — and then a voice cried out — let there be James Jude Courtney. Big Game James wasn’t emulating Castle when he donned the mask in ’18, merely exuding Castle’s energy. Dude simply watched the OG sit up and walk across the screen and was like “I got it.” Courtney approached the part in a very cerebral way, which was why he was able to communicate so much with a glance, head tilt, or even a stare; prerequisites in trilogy bookends that dove deftly into trauma, grief, and loss. But when it came time to throw down, it was over before it began. A worried resident looking out the window — got a check-up from the neck up. Engine 78 called in to put out the fire — beat with their own shoe. A nurse trying to dial 9-1-1 — converted into a wall ornament. To say nothing of the fact that whenever he shared the screen with Jamie Lee Curtis, you felt their unearthly connection. Should other HALLOWEENs follow (they will), Courtney has redefined the standard by which all Shape’s shall be judged forever more.

HONORABLE MENTION

My man has portrayed Jason and Victor Crowley four times apiece and demanded to sport Freddy’s glove to pull his own hock to Hell, It only makes sense that Kane Hodder team with Adam Green and Joel David Moore to shed light on a question long pondered: who taught Michael Myers to drive?

Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments below. And be sure to check back each Sunday for the latest installment of Quintessential Quintuplets.

PREVIOUS QQs:

Carpenter Characters

The Art Of Horror: Celebrating The Best Horror VHS Cover Art- Part II!

Movie Box Art is an all-but-dead form of advertising for movies these days. A while back, I wrote up a piece on VHS Horror Cover Box Art and the films that had some of the most intriguing rental art boxes that served to pique our curiosity when strolling down the horror movie aisle at your local Mom And Pop Video Store on a Saturday afternoon. You went to rent Nightmare On Elm Street 4 and left with films like Cheerleader Camp and Frankenhooker. Case in point, the cover art was the main selling point for these movies back then along with word of mouth; and when mom or pop gave you the precious video rental card to go get what you wanted when you were old enough, that my friends, was goddamn better than a credit card itself. The freeing feeling of being able to rent whatever your little heart desired, well just not shit behind the curtain anyway, without an adult hovering over your back as you’re staring intensely at a copy of Class Of Nuke ‘Em High. Then walking like a gangster to the counter while grabbing a box of Sugar Daddies, a Cherry Coke, and presenting your rental punch card to the clerk. The only thing that made that moment even more glorious was if you were due for a free rental.

So let’s take another walk down the horror aisle of the corner video shop where some of the greatest horror movie cover art existed. That being said, there are way too many to put into one article, so I’ve decided to put together another piece championing VHS art with Parts 3 and 4 likely to come in the following weeks/months.

These are just some that really stood out to me at that age. Oh, and for the record and refresher from my last entry, I popped that solo video rental store cherry visit with Return of the Living Dead and The Blob.

What are some of your favorite VHS covers? Get crackin’ on those comments Nostalgic Nuggets and come back for parts 3 and 4 of wild and wonderous VHS Horror Box Art!

QUINTESSENTIAL QUINTUPLETS: CARPENTER CHARACTERS

Welcome to 2023, Nostalgia Nuggets! It’s my New Year’s resolution to write more, so the curtain shall rise on a fresh top five from a new horror(ish) category every Sunday beginning right now. So, if you’d be so kind, come with me for a minute.

I am fully prepared for the crucifixions to come, beginning with this inaugural list you’ll be dissecting momentarily. But before we begin, just know two things:

First, I love alliteration (and JAWS) so for a serial that deals in fives the title and image just made sense. Second, though this piece pertains to characters from John Carpenter movies, I’d be remiss if I neglect to mention Debra Hill because without Debra Hill, there would be no John Carpenter.

Now, if you don’t mind, let’s dig in because “I’d rather not spend the rest of this winter TIED TO THIS FUCKING COUCH!”

5 — NAPOLEON WILSON (DARWIN JOSTON) — ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 (1976)

Napoleon Wilson’s reputation preceded him. It was never specified what put him on death row, but it was clear that the mere mention of his name struck fear into the hearts of criminals and cops alike. Mysterious yet honorable with a dry sense of humor that pulled you in whether you liked it or not, Darwin Joston ATE as Napoleon Wilson. The man may have been a killer, but he had a code: give respect, get respect. Clearly disarmed when Bishop (Austin Stoker) apologized for not having a smoke, Wilson demonstrated courageous dedication to both the makeshift leader of Precinct 13 and Leigh (Laurie Zimmer), who finally provided Wilson with that long-awaited smoke. It was a loyalty that belied desire for pleasure or escape, because it was about the two things a man should never run from — and those two things landed Wilson on this list.

4 — DR. SAM LOOMIS (DONALD PLEASENCE) — HALLOWEEN (1978)

“I met him, 15 years ago; I was told there was nothing left; no reason, no conscience, no understanding in even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong. I met this… six-year-old child with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and… the blackest eyes – the Devil’s eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up, because I realized that what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply… evil.”

Some might call it fancy talk, but this single moment encapsulated Loomis’ obsession, the driving force behind one of the finest films (and performances) in horror history.

3 — R.J. MacREADY (KURT RUSSELL) — THE THING (1982)

A former Vietnam helicopter pilot and functioning alcoholic who needed to get away from the world — only a little further than most. Mac just wanted to avoid whiteouts and sip J&B in his annexed shack outside Outpost 31 in Antarctica, but after setting out to “save those crazy Swedes” — one of whom shot Mac’s crew mate — strange discoveries began weighing on MacReady’s mind. When it becomes clear that an alien is targeting the camp to mimic and survive, Mac assumes the role of reluctant leader to a crew descending into desperation and distrust. In a stellar ensemble cast, Russell shines as the would-be hero in the wrong place at the right time.

2 — LAURIE STRODE (JAMIE LEE CURTIS) — HALLOWEEN (1978)

“Who needs books?” We thought we were getting to know Lynda when P.J. Soles delivered that dialogue, but in a way she was describing Laurie: never judge a book by its cover. Audiences were led to believe that Strode was apprehensive and meek, but nothing could have been further from the truth. When the chips were on the table, the old Girl Scout not only protected the children under her care but outfought and out-thought the Boogeyman. In the process Laurie Strode became the blueprint by which all horror heroines are judged. As James Jude Courtney, Blumhouse’s Michael Myers has said, Jamie Lee Curtis is “the poster child for an empowered woman”, and has silver on lock.

1 — THE SHAPE (NICK CASTLE) — HALLOWEEN (1978)

We weren’t given much. Michael Myers stabbed his sister to death on Halloween night in 1963, spent the next 15 years at the Smith’s Grove Sanitarium waiting for a silent alarm to trigger him off, and apparently he could drive. But the absence of background and development was why we were fascinated in 1978 and remain so today. In the Haddonfield created by Carpenter (and Hill), evil was a force of nature. Forever lurking. Everywhere. Unstoppable. As a fleshed out character, The Shape has no business on this list let alone topping it, but 44 years after The Babysitter Murders we remain fascinated–nay, obsessed–with a character who has come to define the genre.

Agree? Disagree? Who’d we miss? The floor is open for debate, but know this: my original intent was to drop five characters from five different flicks. However, there was no way I could justify abandoning one of the immortal classic’s three titans.

Till next week…ta-ta.