Michael Myers, the horror icon from the legendary Halloween movie franchise, makes a video game appearance in the latest Call of Duty: Ghosts expansion, but he's not the first horror icon to appear in the video game world...
There are many great things about pop culture. One of its more interesting aspects is how popular culture finds its way in to so many different mediums. Look at Wreck it Ralph, a movie that references years worth of video game characters, Who Framed Roger Rabbit did the same thing for animation years before, and Duke Nukem 3D for the PC is full of movie references.
The lines started to blur more when technology was able to put film stars into video games. Bruce Willis’ face appeared in Apocalypse (1998), and in Onimusha 3: Demon Siege (2004) actor Jean Reno appeared in a lead role. This is a pretty standard practice now in games with motion capture and technology advancements. Games like Beyond: Two Souls for the Playstation 3 has Ellen Page, not only using her voice and likeness but her actual acting and movements too, adding an extra element of realism and authenticity.
Fans of horror movies managed to get in on the action to when Call of Duty: Black Ops came out. An expansion pack for this game made it possible to play as Walking Dead star Michael Rooker, vampire killer Sarah Michelle Gellar, Machete star Danny Trejo, and Freddy himself Robert England. All the while fleeing from the zombie master George Romero. There have also been plenty of games based on horror series (Saw, The Ring and even Night Breed have had games based on them) but this managed to show the film stars in danger of things they would normally only face in the movies.
Recently, Michael Myers has joined in the fun in the new Call of Duty: Ghosts expansion pack Onslaught. The map features the iconic killer and involves a huge landscape full of caves and a sinister forest, which also contains a very creepy cabin added into the mix similar to The Evil Dead movies (which have also been the basis of some video games, with mixed popularity) or Cabin in the Woods (a quirky reworking of slasher myths). In this game, Michael can outrun his opponents and can take some heavy duty damage. Not since 1983 with Wizard Videos’ Atari game Halloween has Michael seen so much solo action (a game by Pig Farmer Games was planned but cancelled due to copyright issues in 2013).
Freddy Krueger has had his fair share of action in the video game world. He appeared in a Commodore 64 game in 1989, and fans of the original NES console will remember his Nightmare on Elm Street game where you fought snakes and giant spiders before you got to confront the man of your nightmares. Freddy really came into his own in Mortal Kombat (2011) where he is brought by Shao Kahn into the Mortal Kombat universe to cause havoc.
Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees also had Commodore 64 and NES games, but so far he has not had a chance to let loose in a game of his own, though Splatter House certainly used his character as an influence. He did have a mobile phone game (from 2006) where he fought the undead, and both he and Freddy have had specialist toys made of their NES counterparts. When characters are so popular they are making figures out of their old games, it would seem a wise move to make more games utilizing these killers.
The best place to find all of these characters combined and so many more is the downloadable beat em up Terrordrome, which has all these characters fighting in a Mortal Kombat style and is an incredible amount of fun.
There is lots of fun to be had with phone apps games, with Hobo with a Shotgun getting its own game release. With this avenue for games and the slew of home brew horror movie games online, we could see easily see horror characters like this appearing more and more in the next few years.
The big boys of horror seem happy to be included as downloadable content on games like Call of Duty. These cameos help to add an extra element for gamers, while horror fans will get an extra thrill having the chance to play as or against their horror icons. It is also a great way to give the movies more exposure to a brand new generation.
Films based on video games seem to struggle to gain an audience. Maybe games with horror stars can do a better job? Who will they pick next is anyone’s guess, but if I had a choice, it would be everyone’s favorite hockey mask wearing psycho Jason. If there’s anyone that deserves a chance to cause havoc in the video game world, it should be Crystal Lake’s finest.
Images: Capcom, Disney, Activison, New Line Cinema and Neca