Topic: Halloween: The Many Faces of Michael Myers, Part 3
There's a lot to cover in this third entry of my nine-part series, so we're going to jump right in...
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
1. The "hero" mask (or as a high school buddy of mine once called it, "Stay-Puft Michael"), worn for the bulk of the film by primary Shape portrayer George P. Wilbur, makes its first appearance during Jamie's bedroom hallucination scene. Supposedly the mask was cast from the same Captain Kirk mask the original Shape mask was an altered version of, but it bears a much closer resemblance to an actual licensed Shape mask from the mid-80s. Interestingly, that licensed Shape mask was designed by Don Post Studios -- which also designed the original Captain Kirk mask that Carpenter and crew altered to create the original Shape mask (confusing, ain't it?).
At any rate, originally the eye slits of the hero mask were too small for Wilbur to see clearly through (see #5 below), so he spent the shoot gradually enlarging the eye-holes himself. That, along with the fact that the film, like most films, was shot out of sequence, results in the eye-holes varying in size throughout the movie. Furthermore, it was realized early into production that the mask's neck extension was too short for the tall, broad Wilbur, so it was lengthened to allow Wilbur to tuck it into his collar to help keep it in place. The result was that because the mask is one whole piece, any time Wilbur turned his head the neck would stay put, causing the face to stretch and warp. This, in turn, has left many a die-hard Halloweener with the false impression that there are even more alternate versions of the mask in the film than there already are.
2. Bandage Head 1.0
Michael Myer's first full reveal was in the gas station after making his escape from the ambulance. At this point he's still wearing his hospital scrubs, and apparently had not yet healed from the full-body burn he'd sustained courtesy of Dr. Loomis ten years earlier. Note to self: look up how long it takes to heal from a full body burn...
3. Bandage Head 2.0
About half a second after The Shape first appears as Bandage Head, he impales a mechanic with big-ass crow bar. Cut to a few minutes later. Dr. Loomis arrives at the gas station and sees The Shape, still in his Bandage Head guise, but now sporting the coveralls he stole from the dead mechanic in the interim. But it's not the coveralls which make this mask different; while Bandage Head 2.0 is only seen from a distance, the head wrap is still noticeably different, mostly in that the bandages are wrapped more tightly around the eyes. Splitting hairs, perhaps, but look at the pics and judge for yourself. Speaking of splitting hairs, don't even get me started on the various coveralls used in the film; sometimes they're high-waters, sometimes the bottoms are below the ankle, sometimes the sleeves are halfway up the arm, sometimes they're below the wrists...
4. Drug Store Mask 1.0
The first appearance of The Shape's mask in the film, this is actually the hero mask, only Wilbur hadn't cut the eye-holes as widely as he later would.
5. Drug Store Mask 2.0
Once again making it evident that films are shot out-of-sequence, this second appearance of the Drug Store Mask was filmed before Drug Store Mask 1.0, as Wilbur had obviously not yet enlarged the eye-holes.
6. Shotgun Mask
Used during the scene where The Shape impales the lovely Kathleen Kinmont with a shotgun. Despite the low lighting, it's doesn't appear to be the hero mask, nor any version of the hero mask before Wilbur's alterations. The space between the bottom of the nose and top of the lip is longer, there's apparently some kind of loose felt over the eye, and the eyebrow is much thinner. I can only assume it's nothing more than a stunt mask the costume designers didn't bother completely developing, thinking that because it was going to be used in a low-lit scene, no one would know the difference.
7. Albino Shape
What the...??? The scene this mask is featured in -- when The Shape attacks Dr. Loomis in the school -- was filmed early into production. I've been unable to nail down an explanation for this...abomination, but if you look closely you'll see the base of the hair where it meets the mask is brown, which means it was sprayed platinum after the mask was created and the wig was attached. It could be that it was supposed to be a result of The Shape having been sprayed with a fire extinguisher , but if so, then why is the mask flesh-tone, and why in the film is his hair brown again a moment later? Whatever the reason, the producers didn't have the money to re-shoot the scene later and had no choice but to leave it in. All I know is that Albino Shape always elicits a hearty chuckle from yours truly when his pasty mug flashes across the screen. Also, contrary to some opinions and despite the resemblance, this is not the "Ben Tramer" mask from Part 2.
1. George P. Wilbur (The Shape)
Starting with Dick Warlock in part 2, the Halloween producers opted to cast veteran stunt men in the role of The Shape as the series went on. Wilbur, an old-hand stunt performer, had no problem landing the role; he was friends with the sequel's stunt coordinator, and was cast because he fit the body type the producers were looking for. However, despite the film giving Wilbur sole credit as the man behind the mask, he was actually the second actor brought in to perform as The Shape. The first actor was...
2. Tom Morga (Bandage Head 1.0, Bandage Head 2.0 and The Shape)
Morga -- who also played the masked pseudo-Jason in Friday the 13th Part 5, and has more appearances as various aliens and crew members across multiple Star Trek TV shows than any other performer alive -- had already filmed a number of scenes before being replaced by Wilbur. His screen time is limited to the gas station sequence, the drug store sequence where he steals the mask and gives little Jamie a scare, and the scene where The Shape impales Kathleen Kinmont with a shotgun. Why Morga was replaced is anyone's guess, as both he and Wilbur, who have appeared at conventions together, are too respectful of one another to dish any dirty details. So we'll just chalk it up to overly fickle producers, which is nothing new in Hollywood, and leave it at that.
3. Erik Preston (Young Michael Myers)
Erik Preston started his career appearing in local TV commercials in Salt Lake City at an early age. Only eight years old when he filmed Halloween 4, Preston originally auditioned for the role of the kid in the Frankenstein mask when the producers opted to cast him as Young Michael instead. While he only spent three days on set (appearing as Young Michael during Jamie's drug store hallucination, in a photograph The Shape finds in Jamie's room and during a couple sequences where he appeared as one of many background kids) he fondly remembers the experience. His career has been sporadic since then, with only six other notable credits to his name. But he's found a new fan-base these days, courtesy of 'net savvy Halloween completists and the odd convention appearance.
3. Unnamed Extras
At one point during the film, Loomis and the local Sheriff are thrown for a loop when they find themselves between two Shapes -- only to realize it's nothing more than a couple dicks pulling a prank. One of them is kept out of focus in the film, making it impossible to tell if the mask he's wearing is the hero or a lesser stunt mask. The other, pictured above, is wearing the hero mask, only with the hair teased up a bit. The mask seems squished because the extra was much smaller than Wilbur.
And that wraps up part 3. Thanks for reading, and keep the comments coming.