When you hear the word “Halloween” do you automatically see the blank, white mask of Michael Myers? The empty eyes staring you down against the pale white of the rest of his face? Ever wondered how someone got that terrifying look that became a horror icon? Star Trek’s Captain James Tiberius Kirk is the answer to everything.
The Budget Doesn’t Exist
Halloween was shot on a shoestring budget, that’s not an obscure film fact or anything. That movie was cheaper than cheap, getting turned down by Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee for the pay being too low. Most of the props were cobbled together from whatever could be found like it was a rural highschools drama department. With that kind of funding and the tight shooting schedule, how the hell is someone supposed to make a terrifying killer?
In the spirit of those same high school drama departments, props master Tommy Lee Miller was resourceful and creative, plus had a damn good creative eye for terror. When director John Carpenter said he needed a mask, Miller ran to a nearby costume shop, buying the scariest mask he could find- William Shatner.
William Shatner, Savior of Horror
Yes, an official Star Trek mask of Captain Kirk was bought and modified into the mask of The Shape. Miller brought the mask back to set, using some of his tools to widen the eyes, pull some of the hair and sand off the eyebrows (trendsetter) before painting the entire thing a pale, deathly white like a corpse.
It accomplished its purpose once Miller was finished with it, becoming an icon of terror and evil in cinema. The blank, emotionless stare of The Shape’s eyes appears more like a deep, dark abyss. No matter where Laurie Strode ran, the vacant stare of William Shatner would now follow.
Miller made four masks for the movie, all for various points of wear and tear during Michael Myers’s killing spree, and all but one have been destroyed or lost at this point. The one remaining mask is locked in a vault for preservation, beyond the reach of Rob Zombie.
The Later Masks
The later films starring Michael Myers would make newer masks for productions, until about Halloween 5 when someone just said “f*ck it” and used what looked like the Wish version of a Michael Myers mask instead. Thankfully someone came in later and changed it back to a more faithful mask before Rob Zombie made his versions.
The original masks combined with actor Nick Castle made the menacing Michael Myers we know today though, with the towering actor even reprising the role in the 2018 sequel. Fun fact I learned while researching this article- Nick Castle himself is an accomplished director, creating The Last Starfighter and Major Payne, among a few others. This film was full of a multi-talented cast and crew.
The Halloween franchise seems to be finished for now, with Halloween Ends being released last year to some mixed-at-best reception. So, seeing The Shape (or his masks) on screen again may be a gamble, especially with director David Gordon Greene directing The Exorcist sequel, due for release later this year. Fingers crossed we can get the level of love they gave to Halloween 2018 to the classic possession story.