Despite starting off perfectly, the Halloween series becomes less scary with each film, succumbing to tonal inconsistencies, an emphasis on violence over atmosphere, and two completely separate timelines. But if we’re going to blame the cinematic neutering on a single thing, it would have to be the over-explained background of the series’ silent bogeyman, Michael Myers. Where the first film positioned him as a 6-year-old boy who grew up to be an agent of vague, unspeakable evil after murdering his sister Judith with a kitchen knife, each subsequent entry revealed more about his backstory. Halloween II dropped the bomb that Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode was actually his younger sister. She eventually had a daughter who Myers also had to seek out because of an ancient Druid curse that… ah, screw it. If you’re interested in the convoluted mythology of parts four, five, and six, there’s a perfectly good Wiki page on the matter.
The no-nonsense Halloween H20: 20 Years Later tried to correct things by ignoring the events of four through six and only following the first two movies. But lean and mean as that film was, the sequel, Halloween: Resurrection, ruined H20 by undoing the finality of its ending and having Busta Rhymes go all kung fu on Myers’ ass. His roundhouse kick to the serial killer’s head should have been the final embarrassing nail in the coffin, but the coffin got dug up by Rob Zombie five years later for a reboot of the series. Zombie’s two films made matters worse by going even further into Myers’ past, devoting a huge amount of screen time to his childhood and making all sorts of excuses for why he turned out the way he did.
Luckily, there was a comics writer and filmmaker named Stefan Hutchinson intent on bringing Myers back to his mysterious roots. There’s a reason why the killer was originally credited as just “The Shape,” and Hutchinson sought to recapture that with each issue of the Halloween comic book, to once again make him a vehicle for the unchanging fate mentioned by Laurie’s English teacher in the first film. A resigned bleakness surrounds Myers’ actions, this idea that once someone encounters him, they can never escape him, no matter how much time passes or how far they run. He’ll get them eventually.
That theme of inevitability is most prevalent in 2003’s One Good Scare, Hutchinson’s first—pardon the pun—stab at the Halloween universe. Originally written as a collectors’ item for the 25th-anniversary convention in South Pasadena (the shooting location of the first film), the one-off follows David, the son of the series’ constant hero, the late Dr. Samuel Loomis. Like his father, David’s a psychiatrist at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, the same facility where Myers was once incarcerated. As much as he doesn’t want to become consumed by the elder Loomis’ obsession with Myers, that very thing happens when a survivor of The Shape’s 1978 rampage gets committed to Smith’s Grove. That patient is a grownup Lindsey Wallace, the little girl who Laurie and Annie Brackett babysat in the original film.
Even though Lindsey escaped with her life on that fateful evening, she hasn’t been able to break free of the eternal dread that seems to overtake anyone who crosses paths with Myers. She’s also convinced the bogeyman is still alive and after her, claiming to have spotted him in her backyard shortly after Laurie was murdered in 2002 (the comics take place at various points in the Halloween, Halloween II, H20, and Resurrection timeline). You can probably guess whether her assumptions are correct, and soon enough, things go south at Smith’s Grove, with both David and Lindsey fulfilling the prophecies they fear most. Self-awareness be damned, he was always going to become like his father, and she was always destined to meet Myers one last time.
But it’s not just the original film’s preoccupation with fate that Hutchinson does so well. He’s also savvy enough to team with artists who draw comics in the same way that Halloween director John Carpenter and cinematographer Dean Cundey shoot movies. Instead of relying on jump scares like many of the later films, the artists frequently relegate Myers to the periphery, their panels the comic-book equivalent to Cundey’s stark, understated camera work. And when the stalking ends and Myers makes himself visible to his soon-to-be victims, he simply materializes—more specter than flesh-and-blood human being.
As the series progresses, it becomes a sort of short-story collection about Halloween’s primary setting of Haddonfield, Illinois. Similar to the artwork, Hutchinson keeps Myers at the edge of the narrative, instead focusing on the town’s minor, major, and brand-new characters whose lives are forever altered by The Shape. In the anthology 30 Years Of Terror, for example, we meet the Mackenzies, the old couple mentioned at the end of the first film when Laurie sends Lindsey and Tommy Doyle (the other kid she’s babysitting) to their house for safety. Although we never see the Mackenzies on screen, here they become fully developed characters who show that, when it comes to Michael Myers, no good deed goes unpunished. All they do is comfort the two children and call the police, but their act still comes back to haunt them years down the line.
Elsewhere in 30 Years Of Terror, there’s “Repetition Compulsion,” a nihilistic detective story about Dr. Loomis that takes place in between Halloween II and H20. It’s preceded by “Visiting Hours,” which somehow finds the good in Resurrection by focusing on Laurie locked away in a mental institution, awaiting the final confrontation with her brother from that film’s opening sequence. Like One Good Scare artist Peter Fielding, illustrator Brett Weldele takes a note from Cundey’s cinematography, blanketing everything in hazy watercolors reminiscent of Laurie’s flashbacks in Halloween II. As “Visiting Hours” is made up entirely of her daydreams getting invaded by Myers (even in her fantasy world, she can’t escape him), there couldn’t have been a better aesthetic for the art.
But the most cinematic of 30 Years Of Terror’s five stories is “P.O.V,” which alternates between the eyesight of Myers and the beauty-pageant winner (Ms. Haddonfield 1991) he’s about to kill. A hallmark of the first two films, the killer point-of-view shot was only seldom used in the later movies, and Hutchinson and artist Jim Daly reinstate it to chilling effect.
Even at a brief 48 pages, 30 Years Of Terror covers nearly three decades of Halloween lore, filling in the gaps between the films and driving home the thesis that Myers will always cast a dark cloud over Haddonfield, even when he’s not there. And that’s to say nothing of “Autopsis,” another Haddonfield tale included with the DVD of Hutchinson’s Halloween: 25 Years Of Terror documentary, plus two online stories: “Sam,” which finally reveals the grueling circumstances of Dr. Loomis’ death, and “White Ghost,” a yarn by guest writer Greg Mitchell devoted entirely to—no joke—the tow-truck driver who Myers kills for his coveralls in the first film.
But Hutchinson isn’t content to only focus on Haddonfield. To show that The Shape’s reach extends to neighboring Midwestern communities as well, he sets his longest story arc, the 2008 volume Nightdance, in nearby Russellville circa Halloween 2000. Mentioned briefly by a graveyard keeper to Dr. Loomis in the first film, Russellville is a smaller suburb where a farmer named Charlie Bowles once butchered his wife and two daughters with a hacksaw. Hiding out after being presumed dead in H20, Myers shacks up in Bowles’ abandoned farmhouse (below) to stalk a new teenage girl who reminds him of Judith, thus showing fans what he was up to before returning to Haddonfield in Resurrection. Myers’ hometown and Russellville become even more connected in “Charlie,” a short story included at the end of the Nightdance trade. It turns out that Bowles was locked away in Smith’s Grove after murdering his family, then freed by none other than Myers himself when the bogeyman escaped in 1978.
Since Trancas International Films and Malek Akkad—the son of deceased Halloween producer Moustapha Akkad—helped finance Hutchinson’s run of Halloween comics, they’re considered to be canon to the original series. So it’s a shame Dimension Films isn’t turning them into movies instead of investing in yet another upcoming reboot (for what it’s worth, there’s a pretty nifty fan adaptation of One Good Scare online). But Akkad and director Marcus Dunstan are reportedly revamping the script as we speak, so who knows?
Sadly, the comics were cut short because of a financial dispute with Devil’s Due Publishing, who ceased production on the most recent miniseries, 2008’s The First Death Of Laurie Strode, after two issues. Boasting evocative old-school horror art from Jeff Zornow, First Death explores the aftermath of Halloween II and what led Laurie to fake her own death and adopt her H20 identity of Keri Tate. Like the rest of Hutchinson’s comics, it’s less about the plot mechanics of her second life and more about Myers’ crippling effect on the psyche of a community.
The third and final issue of First Death will likely never see the light of day, nor will Hutchinson’s next planned Halloween arc, The Mark Of Thorn. The latter would have been especially appealing to fans since it was slated to finally link the films’ two disparate timelines. 30 Years Of Terror revealed that, as an adult, Tommy Doyle has became a comic-book writer following his childhood run-in with Myers. How exactly the two opposing figures would have met again in Thorn is unclear, but according to an interview with Hutchinson, films four through six exist in his universe as adaptations of Doyle’s work. It’s likely that his stories would have once again drawn Myers out of hiding, for as Doyle himself said as a kid, “You can’t kill the bogeyman.” He’s absolutely right. Michael Myers’ true spirit may have gotten buried over the years, but for a brief period, Hutchinson’s comics brought it terrifyingly back to life.