When it comes to the best Halloween horror movie of all time, there can be only one choice: Halloween itself, John Carpenter’s original low-budget slasher flick which paved the way for the entire genre. Michael Myers, the film’s mysterious antagonist credited as “The Shape”, is described as being inhumanly patient… the living embodiment of pure, remorseless evil. So with that in mind, the true face of Halloween evil is… Star Trek’s Captain Kirk?!
This has nothing to do with the original 1960s Star Trek TV series Halloween episode Catspaw, or that time when Kirk battled the body-hopping energy-spirit of Jack the Ripper. Instead, it’s one of the most wonderful pieces of Halloween horror film lore over the years: Michael Myers’ infamous mask from the original Halloween film was one of Captain Kirk.
The unlikely-but-true story goes that when the Halloween filmmakers needed a mask but were turned down by Don Post Studios, Tommy Lee Wallace – Halloween’s art and production designer – bought a couple of cheap masks from a local store. The cost of Captain Kirk? $1.98. In choosing between a clown mask and one of the legendary captain of the USS Enterprise, and wanting a blank, humourless mask that looked spooky for Michael Myers, the choice became clear.
As John Carpenter has said, “It [the mask] was supposed to be Captain Kirk. It looked nothing like William Shatner, nothing like anybody, really. It was just a strange mask, which was perfect for us.” To complete the look, the eye holes were widened, the hairline changed, and the mask was spray-painted a shade of blue/white. The end result was impressive. “It truly was spooky looking,” according to the legendary filmmaker. “I can only imagine the result if they hadn’t painted the mask white. Children would be checking their closet for William Shatner…”
Not every fan knew this though, and over the years the story became an urban legend. However, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager illustrator/designer Rick Sternbach confirmed it. And he should know too, because he also worked on Halloween 2. “We had one mask left from the original Halloween, and no idea where to get any others for the sequel,” Sternbach said. “I noticed that there was some wording moulded into the neck area. There was a model number… I made a call, read off the model number, and the word came back ‘It’s our Captain Kirk mask!’”
In a knowing nod to the bizarre nature of the story, years later William Shatner would actually go trick-or-treating wearing the Michael Myers/Captain Kirk Halloween mask himself. Over the years, the original Michael Myers mask has been replaced with updated versions, many of them being available for fans to buy. But incredibly, replicas of the 1975 Captain Kirk mask are also still available for purchase. The Kirk masks are usually advertised with the additional detail of “Michael Myers” in the description, just for those in the know who are intent on modifying them for a more personal, authentic feel.
1978’s Halloween was made on a tight budget of approximately $300 000 but made over $60 million at the box office. It created an entire film franchise, and practically wrote the rulebook for slasher horror films… and in large part, it’s all down to the face of Captain Kirk, cost price less than $2 at the time. It’s a lesson to all budding filmmakers out there, proving that you don’t need multi-million-dollar budgets for effects, props and costumes; you just need creativity.