Of course, the Gunslinger’s relentlessness and seeming immortality were not the only inspirations for the Shape that is Michael Myers. For one thing, Carpenter was quick to point out that Myers came from a few different sources:
“‘Halloween’ was an assignment. Some killer stalking babysitters is all it was. I created that character and named him after the distributor in London who had released ‘Assault on Precinct 13.’ His name was Michael Myers and he was one of the nicest men in show business. I took away his character and made him an evil force.”
Carpenter was partially inspired to “take away his character” by an experience he’d had in college, when he was taking a course in psychology and visited a mental institution on a field trip for the class one day. As he described in a documentary called “Halloween: A Cut Above the Rest,” the visit to that institution and in particular the eerie stare of a young boy who was interned there made a huge impression on the young filmmaker.
Of course, “Halloween” famously borrowed — either consciously or not — from prior films that paved the way to the slasher subgenre, from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” to Mario Bava’s “A Bay of Blood” to Bob Clark’s “Black Christmas.” It’s arguable that the movie received and retained such power to scare, disturb, and delight for the last 40-plus years precisely because it is such a well-made stew, a confluence of influences that keeps the film — and Michael Myers — so compelling.