Is Michael Myers Based On a True Story?
Halloween in Haddonfield is one of the scariest horror movie settings of all time. With a lot of parties and ‘trick or treaters,’ there are people wearing masks everywhere, making evil harder to detect. Speaking of evil, everyone knows the iconic, mute, white-masked terror that is Michael Myers from the Halloween franchise. But where did Halloween creators come up with the story, plot and Michael Myers himself? What inspired one of the most popular (and deadly) horror movie slashers of all time, Michael Myers? Is Halloween Michael Myers Real or based on a true story?
The Real Story Behind Michael Myers and Halloween
Like any successful horror movie franchise, Halloween has grown throughout time. A horror franchise grows with its sequels according to the demand of the audience and appropriate plot advances. But a lot of what Michael Myers is today, is owed to his original creators…the writers and staff responsible for putting together the original Halloween film. Here are some of the most influential contributions to making Halloween and Michael a scary slasher genre leader that it is today!
Dark History of Evil
The idea of Michael Myers can be traced back to Samhain, and true evil itself. Debra Hill, who co-wrote Halloween (1978) got into detail in one interview mentioning Samhain itself and that evil was unable to be killed or destroyed. In a traditional Samhain belief, the souls from the other side can come back for one night. This spawned the concept of Michael Myers, a Halloween (Samhain by another name) killer who would keep coming back. Originally, Michael Myers was referred to as “The Shape” by direct John Carpenter. This was allegedly due to Michael always lurking in the shadows in the scenes. The term “the shape” also has some interesting roots in witchcraft meaning that the devil or evil can take the shape of others or walk in the shadows near them. Coincidence maybe, but interesting none the less.
College Studies to Horror Slasher
John Carpenter attributes some of his inspiration for writing Michael’s evil nature from a trip to a mental institution he took with one of his college classes. Supposedly (according to Carpenter), the patients housed at this Kentucky mental institution were the most seriously ill of all mental patients. Many of the patients exhibited creepy characteristics. One patient in particular, a young boy, provided Carpenter with a truly evil and deadly stare. This experience ultimately led to the creation of the hacking and slashing villain and Halloween horror star, Michael Myers.
In the documentary “Halloween – A Cut Above the Rest” Carpenter describes the boy in detail.
“This blank, pale emotionless face. 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 what was living behind that boys’ eyes was purely and simply evil.”John Carpenter in “Halloween – A Cut Above the Rest”
Another potential influence is Stanley Stiers. Stiers is a tragic story of babies switched at birth by a cruel nurse. When the parents found our Stanley was not their real son they abused and neglected him. The final straw was Halloween night when he was denied trick or treating while his sister was able to go. The young boy murdered his family and his sister with a knife. Some horror fan sites believe this is the true backstory of Halloween and Michael Myers, but we have yet to hear that confirmation from Carpenter himself.
The two writers, Hill and Carpenter, had to come up with a fictional town that Michael could return to haunt. Haddonfield is a real place, only it is located in New Jersey. Hill grew up in Haddonfield, New Jersey, and picked the name in honor of her hometown. The street names throughout the movie were pulled from Carpenter’s hometown, Bowling Green. In fact, much of the script details were pulled together by combining the two writers’ childhood and hometown experiences together.
The writers decided it would be easiest to each be responsible for drafting the characters of their respective genders. Thus, Debra Hill would write most of the female character dialogue and behavior; and Carpenter focused on Dr Loomis and Michael Myers.
Additionally, some of the character names came from the Carpenter’s personal live. Laurie Strode was an ex-girlfriend of Carpenter’s. Michael Myers was the name of a producer Carpenter had previously known from another film.
A Terrifying Musical Score
A lot of the horror that takes place in a Halloween film, especially the original film, take place during super eerie sound tracks. The suspense that builds during a Halloween film can almost directly relate to the background soundtrack, as the scarier the scenes: the scarier the music. Carpenter played a huge part in the musical composition of the Halloween soundtrack and has suggested the soundtrack is one of the movies greatest assets.
Homage to Alfred Hitchcock is paid by way of two character names. Firstly, Tommy Doyle’s character was named after a policeman from Hitchcock’s 1954 “Rear Window.” And secondly, Dr. Loomis was a nod to character Sam Loomis (played by John Gavin) from Hitchcocks’ 1960 “Psycho.”
Final Words About Halloween’s Favorite Slasher
In short, Halloween is not based upon a true story although Michael Myers is based on real people from the writers lives. However, it does not require it be based on a real story to be truly terrifying. And there WAS real inspiration for the making of Michael Myers. And there were several other real-life inspirations in the making of the Halloween franchise. Regardless of how the original concept was derived, John Carpenter capitalized on a timeless fear, as the audience still turns up strong for a good Halloween sequel!
Are you a TRUE Halloween franchise enthusiast? Check out Surprising Facts About the Halloween Movies for some real Halloween Movie Trivia!
Tritone’s love of horror and mystery began at a young age. Growing up in the 80’s he got to see some of the greatest horror movies play out in the best of venues, the drive-in theater. That’s when his obsession with the genre really began—but it wasn’t just the movies, it was the games, the books, the comics, and the lore behind it all that really ignited his obsession. Tritone is a published author and continues to write and write about horror whenever possible.