For over 40 years, the Halloween franchise has been associated with one character and one mask: Michael Myers and his blank, white visage. (He even appears in the stand-alone Halloween III: Season of the Witch courtesy of a “Heh heh. Get it?” commercial playing on a TV.) Famously the result of taking a William Shatner Star Trek mask and retooling it to provide even more mindless evil, that mask is right there with Jason Voorhees’ notorious hockey mask when it comes to embodying the slasher genre as a whole.
However, not all of the masks are built equally. As the Halloween series progressed, various redesigns would cause a Rise and Fall and Rise of sorts, and if you’re the kind of person who deeply cares (the right kind of person) you’ll notice each one gives Michael a distinctly different vibe.
Halloween (1978): The Classic
The romantic ideal of the Michael Myers mask, the original works so well mainly because the director of the film, John Carpenter, is so adept at knowing where shadows are supposed to be. The cheekbones provide a little underline in dark close-ups so it doesn’t look like Myers is wearing a mayonnaise container on his head, and very rarely do you see Michael’s actual eyes, lending him that inhuman quality of “The Shape.” Combine that with the slight tussle in his hair and you have a grade-A maniac mask, one that totally alienates the audience from any sort of human connection or empathy.
Halloween II (1981): The Dye Job
The mask in Halloween II isn’t too dissimilar from the first, but there’s one key difference: The hair has been given a brownish touch, and depending on the light, it can look redder or even blonder. It’s also much more slicked-back here, making Michael look like he’s already wearing a toupee to relive his glory days from three years earlier. It’s not a bad mask, but just as much of Halloween II is the franchise working overtime to keep up with the slasher wave that it helped inspire, it does feel like a rushed product.
Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers (1988): The Bland One
Story-wise, the fact that Myers would nab a mask that only barely looks like his original in a sequel set 10 years after makes sense. At this point, the company producing them has probably changed hands a couple of times in the Reagan ’80s. The mask has had all of the cool details removed and now has the “bought it at CVS Pharmacy at 6:04 p.m. on Oct. 31 in a panic just before trick-or-treating” look. It’s a shame it looks so cheap and corny in every single shot because otherwise, Return is a pretty great Halloween movie with loads of atmosphere.
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989): The Bottom of the Barrel
It’s a debate that’s raged for centuries, or, ya know, at least since the ’90s. Which mask is worse: the one from 1988 or 1989? Return’s is bereft of any menacing features to an ironic extent and Revenge has features, but all the wrong ones. The neck is way too large, meaning the rubber is left just kind of flapping around the stuntman’s throat. Meanwhile, the nose is way too thin, which, when mixed with the grungy hair, gives it a real Timothée Chalamet vibe.
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995): The Goofball
After a six-year hiatus, the Halloween franchise would return with a mask that’s a little better than the one in the previous two installments. This one has scruffy hair and a blank expression, but that expression doesn’t exude pure unreasonable malice; instead, it’s a puppy-dog innocence that looks like Michael Myers is having trouble with a trivia question at all times. The confusion makes sense, though — at this point in the franchise, the Halloween lore had spiraled out of control, losing the original intent of faceless, unexplainable evil and instead having Myers transform into an incestuous bull stud for a Celtic-themed doomsday cult.
Halloween H20 (1998): The Mixed Bag
Returning the franchise to its roots, ignoring the past four sequels, and reintroducing Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode character to the series definitely made for a sleeker experience. If only the mask could keep up. There are multiple masks used throughout H20, including CGI ones. But if we had to grade it on the main Myers mask, the one that appears during the iconic scene where a horrified Laurie gets face-to-face with Michael through a tiny window, the results are pretty uneven. The mask detail is there, but without Carpenter’s shadows (being able to see his wide eyes so clearly all the time does no favors for Michael’s mystique) and with an onion-tuft of hair, there’s little in the way of results.
Halloween Resurrection (2002): The EVIL One
Perhaps the most infamous film in the series, Halloween Resurrection would kill off Laurie Strode in its opening sequence and introduce Busta Rhymes as a roundhouse-kicking reality TV producer. In short, it’s a weird watch. That said, the mask used is not too bad, as long as you like your Michael to look very visibly evil. The extremely arched eyebrows, painted shadows, and unhappy cheeks make Michael look downright crabby, an old man now in his seventh installment having to put up with vapid, horny teens that want to gain stardom in his childhood home.
Halloween (2007): The Scarred Model
In reinventing Michael Myers during the horror remake arms race of the mid-aughts, director Rob Zombie layers his Myers mask with dirt and blemishes. It’s the result of having been left under some floorboards for 15 years, and it doesn’t look so bad — at the very least, it appears to be the product of an actual artist and not a frantic dash to a Spirit Halloween. We get to see a close replica of the original, too, in the film’s first act — a brief nod to fans of the series before Zombie goes and does whatever he wants with it.
Halloween II (2009): The Beard
With even more scarring and actor Tyler Mane’s big beard poking out of the neck of it, the mask from Rob Zombie’s second go-round with the series is either a travesty or a testament to an artist’s ability to divert from the source material. Zombie takes even more liberties when he has one of Myers’ victims claw off a rough third of the mask, leaving Myers with one visible eye and one under the mask. Visually, it looks pretty rad, especially when the masked eye is bathed in darkness, and is a nice balance to all the times Zombie decides to just have Michael walk around maskless, enjoying the autumn breeze.
Halloween (2018): The Old Man
Like Zombie’s weathered approach, the mask in the direct sequel to the first Halloween is also aged. But this time, we’re offered a few more wrinkles and a ton of dust — meaning that this mask, like Michael, has been locked away to be forgotten about. Of course, that doesn’t happen, and Michael is back to strolling around Haddonfield like in the good old days. For the most part, the mask works, and unlike Michael’s last (now non-canonical) family reunion with Laurie Strode, it keeps the eyes hidden and the expression impenetrable.
Halloween Kills (2021) and Halloween Ends (2022): The Two-Face
Thanks to a fire at the end of the 2018 film, Michael’s mask in Halloween Kills (and the upcoming Halloween Ends) has a Harvey Dent-esque burn down one side. In darkness, it looks pretty cool — the little bits of charred rubber sticking out from the side add some neat intricacies to what is now the eleventh design in the series. Meanwhile, in plain sight, it’s still recognizably Michael. And as the series has proven over the years, that’s all you can really ask for.