The world of horror films is filled with brilliant antagonists that have scared us on more than one occasion. Whether they’re human characters, in most cases homicidal maniacs, or supernatural characters, their horror “protagonists” have become a relevant part of modern pop culture.
John Carpenter’s Michael Myers, the Boogeyman from the Halloween franchise, and Wes Craven’s Freddy Krueger, the nightmare-inducing demon from A Nightmare on Elm Street are two of the most popular ones. But, who rules the nightmares, Michael Myers or Freddy Krueger?
Freddy Krueger is certainly the more scary character of the two. He is a nightmare-inducing demon that kills people in their sleep, terrorizing them before slicing them, which also makes him difficult to defeat. On the other hand, Michael Myers is a human with some superhuman abilities, but is not a demon like Krueger.
The rest of this article is going to be divided into three sections. The first two are going to bring an overview of the two characters, in whose scopes we are going to compare their powers, including their signature techniques. Finally, we’re going to bring you a detailed analysis of the two characters to determine which one would win in a direct clash.
Michael Myers and His Powers
Michael Myers is the central character of the Halloween film series. He debuted in John Carpenter’s 1978 Halloween movie. The film tells the story of a young psychopathic boy who made his first victim at the age of six.
The character appears in nine films, as well as novels, video games, and several comics. The character is the first antagonist in the Halloween film series, with the exception of the third film, which is not connected in continuity with the rest of the franchise.
On October 31, 1963 in Haddonfield, Illinois, the six-year-old Michael stabs his seventeen-year-old sister Judith with a butcher’s knife and a Halloween costume. Michael was then interned in Smith’s Grove where he was treated by Dr. Samuel Loomis.
On October 30, 1978, Michael, then twenty-one years old, escaped to return to Haddonfield, when Dr. Loomis was due to transfer him to stand trial for the murder of his sister. On the road, he kills a mechanic before stealing his suit. The next day at Haddonfield, he then steals knives, a mask and a rope.
He follows and observes Laurie Strode and her friends. He chases them down, and that’s where the killings will begin. Just as he was about to kill Laurie, Dr. Loomis intervenes and shoots six bullets in his body. Michael falls from the balcony. However, when Dr. Loomis looks out the window, Michael was already missing.
This marked the beginning of his killing spree, which continued in the sequels to Halloween, although most of the story was retconned with the 2018 film Halloween, which kept the origins from the 1978 film, while discarding all the ones that came after.
Michael Myers is of an unremarkable physique, slender and around 180 cm tall. Michael has a very disturbing white mask, as well as a mechanic’s suit he stole from a mechanic after killing him. The suit Myers wears is a coverall of the brand Big Mac, and is of a dark gray color.
Myers’ legendary white mask is actually the 1975-made mask of Captain Kirk (from Star Trek) played by William Shatner. Tommy Lee Wallace, the production designer, bought it for two dollars, along with a clown mask, in order to find the look of the killer. Kirk’s mask was slightly adjusted (eyes enlarged, sideburns removed and painted bluish white).
When Nick Castle made the tests, the clown mask was judged to be very good because it was completely out of step with the murderous madness of the character, but the white mask, disturbing by its total absence of expression, gave chills to the entire film crew. and was then kept. It remains one of the most fashionable Halloween costumes in the United States.
The clown mask is not completely abandoned and will be worn by child Michael in the remakes later. Carpenter also admitted to being inspired by the mask appearing in the film Eyes Without a Face by Georges Franju.
Michael Myers is first of all not a “normal” man, he is a being endowed with a certain intelligence but who is limited to the perception of evil and murder. He has a look in which we can only see hatred, as well as a certain absence of the notions of good and evil. Devoid of feelings, he often kills innocent people, simply because they are unlucky to cross his path.
But he has two priority types of victims: adolescents (more often girls) who indulge in sexuality (typical victims of horror films), and especially the last living members of his family.
In the remakes, the character is very different: he is not suddenly struck by evil but gradually sinks into madness in the midst of a violent entourage. He is strong and invincible only because of his large build, and there is no evidence that he rises from his wounds in any paranormal way.
He’s much more violent in his killings but doesn’t necessarily intend to kill Laurie, he just wants her to recognize him. There is no curse story in his murderous journey, but the expression of a deranged psyche. Simply put, the Michael Myers of the remakes is much more human than the original, and is deranged rather than possessed.
As the films progress, a characteristic element intensifies: his absolute invulnerability. His ability to resist bullets and all kinds of abuse makes him a sort of superhuman being, the embodiment of absolute Evil.
Unlike Jason Voorhees, Michael does not have a titanic physique; he is of average height and average build, he does not appear particularly strong (except in the remakes of Rob Zombie where, on the contrary, Michael measures more than two meters and has a larger build).
We quickly see that this is only an appearance, because Michael possesses absolutely superhuman strength. This makes him a tireless pursuer who leaves no respite for his victim, seeking to kill her by any means.
His weapon is a butcher’s knife (a tribute to Norman Bates) but he has other ways of killing, sometimes showing a treacherous imagination.
Freddy Krueger and His Powers
Freddy Krueger is a fictional character created by Wes Craven, first played by Robert Englund in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) as well as in the other eight films of the saga, and then by Jackie Earle Haley in the 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street.
A serial killer burned alive by the parents of his young victims, Freddy returns from the dead in the demonic form to pursue and murder teenagers in their dreams. Disfigured and equipped with claws attached to a leather glove, the character is an icon of horror cinema.
Freddy Krueger was born in September 1942, in Springwood Psychiatric Hospital. It is the result of multiple rapes suffered by Amanda Krueger, while she was a trainee nun in this hospital, which has been closed since the event. Freddy lives in an adopted family, hostile to him, and he is also the pain reliever of his classmates.
At an already very early age, Krueger shows signs of sadism. He indulges in the murders of small animals. He tames suffering as a source of pleasure by mutilating himself. As a teenager, Krueger murders his guardian, a notorious drunkard, with a razor blade. About twenty years later, he marries Loretta, a waitress, with whom he will have a daughter, Katheryn.
It was during this period that Fred made an atypical weapon, using a gardening glove, fitted with knife blades. He will use it to kill some neighborhood children after kidnapping them. Krueger will use the thermal factory in which he works as a place to commit his crimes. He would soon kill his wife, before eventually being killed himself, only to later return as a demon.
These events marked the beginning of Freddy’s murder spree, which was further explored in the sequels to A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Freddy is wearing a red and dark green striped sweater. His face is severely burnt (3rd degree). He constantly wears a glove extended by four knife blades. He also wears a brown colored “felt” hat. The character design has evolved over the course of the films.
In A Nightmare on Elm Street, the sleeves of his sweater are completely red, and the burns he suffered seem to be limited only to his face and chest (his ungloved hand does not seem to have suffered the ravages of his immolation). During the phases of sleep, the dreams inhabited by Freddy take place in the environment in which the victims fall asleep without being aware of the transition.
Since his death, we can relate Freddy to the bogeyman. Throughout the films of the saga, Freddy takes on the appearances of the deepest fears of his prey while he lines the environment with dreams he inhabits according to the specific anxieties of his victims.
Violated by his adoptive father during his childhood, and mocked by his classmates, he ends up taking a liking to the murder of small animals as well as to suffering through self-mutilation, he will also have a particular taste for sadism, same sadism with which he kills his victims. Freddy Krueger murders the teenagers in the neighborhood of his first crimes. He has black humor and a scathing line.
Often, the killer giggles, smirks, and laughs out loud during his appearances. Freddy also likes to squeal his blades against iron walls to announce his presence. Sometimes, girls in white dresses or playing tug of war (possible memories of Freddy’s first victims) sing a rhyme to warn of Freddy’s presence.
Powers and Weaknesses
Freddy can invade humans’ dreams and kill them right from their nightmares, killing them in reality. He uses his claw glove, but can also manipulate the dream world however he wants, like sucking them into a bed, in a comic book, or in a video game, he can knock them down, or turn them into bugs at his own disposition.
On some occasions, he may also possess human bodies by forcing them to commit assassinations. However, he is vulnerable outside of dreams and loses all of his powers in the real world. Even if he is eliminated, he can be resurrected from Hell if the inhabitants he terrorized remember him and fear him.
In the sixth installment, we understand that Freddy cannot leave the town of Springwood but he succeeds, after having executed all the teenagers in the city, by infiltrating his daughter’s memory.
Michael Myers vs Freddy Krueger: Who Rules the Nightmares?
The answer to this comparison depends on what you’re actually asking. If you’re asking who the more powerful murderer is, it’s definitely Freddy Krueger, as he is a demo with various supernatural abilities, whilst Michael Myers is at best an immortal character with superhuman abilities, but the former might not be true at all. In that aspect, Freddy definitely prevails.
On the other hand, if you’re determining who the scarier character is, that actually depends on what you find scarier. Maybe it’s a demon haunting your dreams, or a creepy guy stalking you from across the street doing nothing. On a general level, Freddy Krueger would have more scary elements, but that doesn’t have to be valid for everyone.
The conclusion? Freddy Krueger is the stronger of the two and generally scarier, but the latter is quite subjective and depends on what you, as the viewer, consider to be scarier.