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.
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.