Today is Halloween, and I’ve been thinking a lot about my favorite slasher movie franchise, Halloween, as evidenced by the quite-long history of Halloween I wrote the other week. Despite a couple shitty entries, the original seven forays of Michael Myers and his love of murder are incredibly enjoyable. That franchise also, inevitably, reminds me of the various knockoffs that came up as a result of John Carpenter’s original, namely my least favorite slasher series, Friday the 13th. Jason Voorhees gets all the fame and acclaim and Michael Myers gets shat on. Why? Because Jason’s been in more movies? Phooey and pshaw! I’m clearly biased, but I am willing to see the error of my ways. To that end, I’ve decided to pit these two horror heavies against each other in several categories and come to a logical “Who’s Better?” solution. It’ll be a hell of a lot more scientific than Freddy vs. Jason.
Round 1 – BACKSTORY
Michael Myers was, apparently, a normal kid when he snapped one Halloween and stabbed the shit out of his older sister. He spent the next 15 years of his life in a mental institution where his psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Loomis, tried to rehabilitate him and, failing to do so, spent the rest of his time there attempting to keep Michael locked up because he’s pure evil. Michael is royally fucked up. He has the blackest eyes, the devil’s eyes – How can that not be the best thing ever?
Jason Voorhees was a mentally-challenged camper who drowned when counselors were busy getting busy. His mom held a grudge for a really long while and began killing a new regime of counselors, including Kevin Bacon. Then, the girl who survived the first movie has a dream about Jason coming out of Crystal Lake, which apparently means he’s still alive, and then he begins killing people. That’s a pretty weird way to start your reign of terror – being dead and then brought back to life via the producers’ desire to make a sequel.
Advantage – Myers
Round Two – MASK
When he was a kid, Michael Myers wore a clown mask, which is terrifying enough on its own. As an adult, after escaping the mental hospital, Myers collects what is actually a William Shatner Star Trek mask painted white with the hair teased. It gives the killer as blank an expression as the coldness of his heart. It’s a way for Myers to distance himself mentally from the murders he’s committing. He’s not deformed facially, but he seems to be totally appalled by his real visage. Every time he escapes, he finds some other, similar-looking white mask with hair on it. Luckily, by time Halloween 4 was made, all he had to do was buy a Michael Myers mask.
Jason has a horribly disfigured face that is apparently caused by birth defects. When he comes back from the dead the first time, he has a monstrous zombie face. In his first full appearance in Friday the 13th Part 2, he wears a pillow case with a hole cut in it to cover his ugly head. A PILLOW CASE. It wasn’t until the last third of part 3 that he dons his trademark hockey mask, here only because one of his victims was wearing it. Every time he reappears, he has a different old-timey hockey mask. It’s undoubtedly iconic, but serves no character purpose other than to hide his progressively grotty face.
Advantage – Myers
Round Three – WEAPON
Myers goes old school. Though he’s killed people in a number of ways (including impalement, electrocution, and eye-gouging), his go-to implement of murder is a really sharp kitchen knife.
Voorhees has killed people in a smorgasbord of brutal ways (including picking people up and throwing them into trees), but his standby is a big, honking machete, which he swings with impunity.
Advantage – Voorhees
Round Four – MENACE
Michael Myers has an amazing ability to cling to the shadows (who is he, Bane?) and come out of nowhere when victims least expect. He’s also a huge creeper, spending a great deal of time stalking his prey and lurking around corners. For being a pretty tall man, he sure can hide well. Myers has a sense of mischief about him, like he gets a weird enjoyment out of scaring people before murdering them. The image of Myers standing at the end of a long corridor is enough to induce pants-pissing in even the toughest among us.
Jason Voorhees is the very definition of “hulking;” he can do little else besides lumber around the woods (or Manhattan, or a spaceship) and look terrifying. What he lacks in stealth, he makes up for in directness. If Jason wants to kill you, he walks in a straight line at you until you’re dead. There’s no sense of fun about him; he just kills you and moves on. In the remake, which I’m not counting, really, they tried to make him more of a mountain survival person, but in the original slate of films, he’s just a big fucker who kills.
Advantage – Push
Round Five – MURDERS
In the course of his seven screen appearances prior to the two reboot films (Halloween, Halloween II, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers, Halloween: Water, and Halloween: Resurrection), Michael Myers racked up about 71 murders (not counting dogs). That’s a lot of damn people, it must be said, especially considering he only killed 5 in the original film. His murders, for the most part, have a panache to them, and he seems genuinely intrigued by the aftermath, like he’s a psychopathic alien making notes about Earth’s dead people.
Jason Voorhees has been in nine films, minus the remake (Friday the 13th part 2, Friday the 13th part III, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Friday the 13th part VI: Jason Lives, Friday the 13th part VII: The New Blood, Friday the 13th part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, Jason X, and Freddy vs. Jason), and has killed 140 people, which, if you’re doing the math, is about double the amount that Michael Myers has in only two more films. One of the hallmarks of the Friday series is the insane body count and the brutality with which people are dispatched. Jason is, basically, a walking death machine. He also killed Freddy Krueger.
Advantage – Voorhees
Round Six – DURABILITY
Michael Myers has been shot, blown up, electrocuted, set on fire, and punched really hard, and he’s still ticking. He’s apparently able to withstand complete immolation in the second movie, only to have a few scars in the fourth. Even when we see what looks like his end in Halloween: Water, it’s later revealed to have been a trick on his part. The most that happens is that he’ll be in a coma for a long period of time, but he always seems to know when October 31st rolls around again. He can take a licking and keep on ticking.
Jason Voorhees has actually for-realsies died three times: once before the first film, once in The Final Chapter (above) and once again in The Final Friday. He can’t not get killed, it seems. The reasons for his resurrections are increasingly silly as the series goes on and even his veritable undead status doesn’t stop him from being impossible to kill… until the end of the movie. The implication, however, is that he’s so evil, he can’t stay dead for long.
Advantage – Push
Round Seven – THEME MUSIC
While Harry Manfredini’s “ch-ch-ch Ah-Ah-Ah” stings and the jacked Psycho-esque strings are quite effective, the repetitive and catchy score from John Carpenter is by far the more haunting and durable, since it’s been used in every one of the movies, virtually unchanged.
Advantage – Myers
So, they’re fairly evenly-matched, but I’ve decided I’m still going to award the crown to Michael Myers for the simple fact that the Halloween series as a whole is better than the Friday the 13th series as a whole. The original Halloween is a masterpiece that holds up even to this day, and at least two of the sequels can be considered pretty good by horror sequel standards. The Friday the 13th series has one truly good entry (The Final Chapter) and nothing much else going for it besides the over-the-topness of the murders, and while that’s pretty entertaining, it doesn’t have the lasting effect that the Halloween movies do.
So what did this prove? Nothing. It’s Halloween; go watch Halloween.