No doubt, Halloween is a far superior movie to A Nightmare on Elm Street. But since we're not debating the merits of the movies, but rather, which has the scarier bad guy, I'm in luck.
Michael Myers scarier than Freddy Krueger? Please.
What do the bad guys do in horror movies? Right. They try to kill other people in the movie. Dying, pain -- it's pretty scary stuff. But if you happen to run into Michael Myers, and you're not related to him or an employee of the mental institution that held him, he really doesn't care about you. Seeing a guy with a creepy mask, breathing heavily, staring awkwardly at you? Weird, sure, but you'll survive. In fact, let's imagine that two girls run into Michael Myers at say, Saddle Creek. It'd go something like this:
Eww! Did you see that guy?
I know! Poor thing, bad fashion sense, and totally staring at us!
Don't be mean, clearly he's a mute asthmatic.
You're so right. My bad.
They'd have this exchange because they'd still be alive. Run into Freddy Krueger and here's what's said later:
That's right. Nothing, because you're dead. To be fair, Freddy is only after the Elm Street dwellers, and Myers is only after his family, but let's imagine that isn't the case. Freddy and his repulsively burned, blackened, and blistered face will slice you to pieces with his homemade glove o' knives. See, Freddy stalks you in your sleep. Since we all have to sleep at some point, a run-in with Freddy is inevitable. You can't even run away from Freddy, as he'll magically appear in front of you. Non-human creatures can do these things. (Myers tended to lumber slowly, so there's a chance you'd get away if you could run faster than, oh, a turtle.) Just to give you a hint of what's to come, Freddy'll run his knife-fingers across a metal surface, emitting a sound that'll make your skin crawl. Dirty, disfigured, knifes-for-fingers Freddy would scare the pants off the toughest of men. There's no escape, and no chance for survival.
Even worse, only certain people can even see Freddy. Insist you do, and you're in the psych ward, all alone. And the docs are gonna give you something to help you sleep. In fact, you'll sleep like the dead. Forever.
--Mary Helen Tibbs
I must confess: I'm not exactly a horror film expert. I love movies, but I'm more of a romantic-comedy, chick-flick fan. I'm endeared to this genre because it can, when done the right way, produce deeply felt, intense emotion for its viewers.
I had never experienced this with a horror film. You see, I'm part of a generation that associates scary movies with blood, gore, and perversion, and for me, they just aren't worth the $8 movie tickets. Movies like, ahem, A Nightmare on Elm Street have taken the horror genre and twisted it beyond recognition.
Michael Myers, star of John Carpenter's 1978 Halloween, would be disappointed. Because of him, my faith -- and interest -- in horror films has been renewed. As the antagonist of an original "slasher" film, inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, he is one of the most purely frightening characters in the history of cinema. He doesn't rely on ruthless and random killing, as do many of the modern "splatter" films, nor does he employ inhuman scare tactics to appeal to the senses. Michael's victims are stalked with deliberate intention and concentration, which accounts for all the heavy breathing. This classic simplicity makes him not only believable, but also truly scary. Instead of nausea, he creates suspense and lasting emotion, which should be the main effects of a horror movie.
Further proof of Michael's greatness: Halloween is inarguably the forerunner to every subsequent scary movie involving serial killers, babysitting nightmares, and anonymous phone calls. It is also one of the first to give the audience a look from the murderer's point-of-view, with heavy emphasis on voyeurism and psychotic tendencies, which, might I add, actually exist in real life. You know that there are people out there just like him, and that's what creates the fear. He's not a supernatural, sadistic demon killer who only exists in your dreams. He's just your average insane-asylum escapee, and after 10 years of solitary confinement, he's out for some much-needed vengeance and good old-fashioned murder. And he's coming to a suburban neighborhood near you.
Mary Helen Tibbs, Sarah Galpern