Have you ever found yourself in a horror site forum discussing the best of the best of horror? Invariably if you engage in such lighthearted discussion, you will run into a few grumpy grumpertons who are scolding serious about how their particularly favored slasher in somehow better. Now having said that, I am admittingly a former grumpmeister in favor of Crystal Lake curse Jason Voorhees, although I do try to refrain from being reeled into such fights in my older rickety old age (I’m 30), lol.
But one of the things that are always brought up by Halloween fans, and these fans do have good taste, is how Jason Voorhees is a Michael Myers knock off. My brother is a Halloween fan and he and I see eye to eye (say that three times fast) in so much that Jason and Michael couldn’t be more different. So in this analysis that will be lavish in geekery I will go ahead and try to point out the differences between these two sultans of slaughter and argue that Jason is not really a Michael Myers knock off.
I’ll ask you to bear with me, as it is usually hard to bring out my Halloweenesque zeal around fluffy white Christmas time. I think I shall play some homemade Halloween party CDs. Ah yes.
In 1978 John Carpenter released a low budget horror film which would come to be a must have in every red goo loving fans collection. It captured a very real autobiographical feel much in the same way the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre did. The music was simple yet brilliant and Carpenters film was more of a thriller than horror film in so much as he skimped on the blood and guts, which only made this particular movie better. Now in present times Halloween is as much of a holiday time must see for October 31st, as It’s a Wonderful Life is for Christmas.
In 1981 Jason Voorhees was introduced to the horror film audience. Though he is the crown king of the Friday The 13th saga and subsequent New Line Cinema attempts, he did not really make himself known until the second film. His mother, the vengeful Pamela Voorhees, was the bell of the bloody ball in the first Friday The 13th, cutting counselors with colorful efficiency. After all, she didn’t know that her poor beloved son Jason was alive in the woods, well kind of alive. So she avenged the drowning death of her son some 30 years after the fact when Steve Christy tried to reopen the same camp where sexually charged teens abandoned her son to drown in the lake in 1957.
“Jason…wasn’t a very good swimmer.”
Truth be told Jason was a special needs child. Mothers are usually overprotective of special needs children, but Pamela took it to a whole new level.
And so it was Friday The 13th Part 2 when we first saw Jason. He did not have his trademark hockey mask yet; he would come by that in part 3. In fact Jason always seemed to be evolving as each movie came around. From a barely human slayer to a hulking corpsifed killer with otherworldly strength, endurance, and will to kill.
As I watched both series gradually grow over the years, and then later become able to compare the two, I realized that Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees were as different as town mouse and country mouse. Surely there are similarities, so to remain balanced I will point those similarities out.
Both men are driven killers who seem to be able to survive almost any assault against them. Both men prefer to cover their faces with a mask. Although Jason likes a wider variety of tools, both men have their own weapon of preference. Michael has his kitchen knife and Jason has his machete. Both men are strongly linked to their own specific townships or counties. I could continue, but their similarities remain vague and standard issue for more than half of your horror movie icons. Myers didn’t make the mold of you’re a typical horror antagonist. Before him there was Leatherface of TCM and then we must all remember Normon Bates in Psycho. However Horror certainly did seem as though it was turning a corner around the time of the film Halloween. In the 80’s the slasher phenom broke out.
Oddly and sadly Michael Myers made a return at the end of the 80’s in Halloween 4 & 5. I say sadly because at this time, though he originally came before the 80's slasher breakout, his character seemed to be jumping on slasher bandwagon. He was less enigmatic and more visceral like Jason. Almost as though Akkad tried to Jasonize Myers. But before those installments Jason and Michael were a world apart in how they operated.
Michael Myers was more stealthy and methodical. He seemed to like to drag things out and play mind games with some of his prey. Although Jason was able to disappear and reappear out of nowhere, he was more of a get to the point and kill these monkeys kind of fella. If there was an obstruction, he didn’t go around it, he went through it. He didn’t like to be bothered by simple things such as doors and windows.
Michael’s kills seemed to have more of a psychological impact on his victims although undoubtedly his kills were painful. Jason however liked his meals messy. He was a brutal and savage killer. His kills were quick but terribly painful. Almost as though he were thinking "this is what you get for making me wait on you".
Michael’s habitat was suburban America and he adapted to that. He was able to cut across lawns and move through the town unseen by all of inhabitants. He even learned how to drive during time in Smiths Grove. Jason’s habitat was literally in the country. Not a small country town mind you. The woods! He adapted. He could move through the wilderness always knowing his bearings, never getting lost, always knowing the short cuts. He was also animalistic in nature, which would seem to fit seeing as how most of his life was self-learned in the woods around Crystal Lake.
Michael’s motivation was in killing his sisters off. He did not necessarily care if anyone else lived or died, but he did kill any who tried to get in his way or even inadvertently obstructed his view of his goals. Jason killed for vengeance of his mother. He had no specific target. His grounds, in his mind, were private property; no trespassing. Anyone violating these terms paid by penalty of death.
Because Michael had a specific target he was willing to travel wherever he needed to in order to reach said target. Jason simply had his territory and killed anyone who came into his territory, which was unfortunately and in large part used by “outsiders” for recreational purposes.
Michael didn’t seem to be as resilient to certain attacks as Jason did but he also never deteriorated in appearance because of the attacks put upon him. Almost as though he never really died. Jason however died and resurrected on many occasions, each time he appeared more and more chewed up yet each time he could shrug off most anything done to him as if it were a punch to the face. In this way he seemed like a zombie except that he seemed to be super capable with his abilities whereas your average run of the mill man-eater is slow and stiff.
As the Halloween series went on there was not too much evolution in the character of Myers. He seemed to become more aggressive in parts 4 & 5, and in part 6 they tried to over explain, but by H20 the evolution seemed to loop around and reconnect to the character he originally was. We won’t make mention of Halloween 8. Jason seemed to gradually change more and more to the dead side in each film. He became more powerful. He became more and more rotten, and he became harder and harder to kill, although when NLC released Jason Goes To Hell they tried to regenerate him as well as over explain him. We won’t make mention of Jason X. But by the time Freddy Vs Jason came around he was back to his original self.On a side note I am unsure exactly where Freddy earned his black belt for that film.
And although there are defiantly differences, which protect Jason from the Michael knockoff argument, I, like so many others, wish that it were Michael Vs Jason instead of Freddy Vs Jason. Michael Vs Jason is a dream that will never happen. It would mean two different film companies coming to terms. Still it bears repeating, Michael Vs Jason would be the most highly grossing horror film title bout of all time surpassing the enchanting collision between Frankenstein and The Wolf Man. And as a biased fan I must say, Jason would win. I am sure there will be those who disagree. Now go and watch some old Halloween and Friday The 13th Films, in order mind you. And come back to add your input. This isn’t a continually argued topic for nothing. “Chh Chh Chh hha Hha Hha”.