The Real Killer Origin Story Behind “Halloween’s” Michael Myers

John Carpenter used a variety of influences in creating the iconic villain.

michael myers
Actor Tony Moran, as masked kiler Michael Myers, wields a knife in a still from the horror film, 'Halloween,' directed by John Carpenter, 1978. The fictional Myers has a wild origin story. (Fotos International/Courtesy of Getty Images)
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This year’s Halloween season brings the return of October’s favorite horror movie franchise. The fictional killer Michael Myers will once again terrorize a placid town in the upcoming Halloween sequel to the 1978 original — which features Jamie Lee Curtis reprising her role as Laurie.

The real-life origins of the Michael Myers villain are something of a collage, a variety of terrors and influences courtesy of the first film’s director, John Carpenter.

The specifics of Myers’ outfit and persona emanate from a trip John Carpenter took to a mental institution while taking a psychology class at Western Kentucky University. “We visited the most seriously, mentally ill patients. And there was this kid, he must have been 12 or 13 and he literally had this look,” Carpenter once said for the DVD documentary A Cut Above the Rest.

What scared Carpenter in particular were the boy’s eyes, which Carpenter added into the script, referring to Myers’ “blank, pale emotionless face.”

“It was unsettling to me, it was like the creepiest thing I’d ever seen as a stranger,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter chose the name Michael Myers as an ode to the eponymous European distributor for Carpenter’s other cult classic, Assault on Precinct 13. He filled out Myers’ legend with a little help from the original 1973 version of Westworld. He applied the same theory behind Yul Brynner’s unkillable robot to his own unstoppable killer.

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