Phobia Philms: Halloween II
Samhainophobia – fear of Halloween
To use the original Halloween would be uninspired, plus I already reviewed it a few Octobers ago (read it here). Instead, I am going to write about the first sequel, which I think is fairly underrated. Most viewings of the original Halloween usually lead to a viewing of the sequel, for me anyways, since I think they work so well together as one long movie.
Samhain (pronounced Sah-Wen, because the Irish are horrible spellers) was a precursor to Halloween as we know it today. More of a religious ceremony to celebrate the end of harvest season, it was thought that the barrier between our world and the “Otherworld” was thin enough for spirits and fairies to cross over and receive “propitiation” of food and drink. People used to believe making them happy meant they would survive the winter season. Eventually, neighbors began dressing up to accept food and drink on behalf of the spirits, thus starting the tradition of trick or treating. Halloween in America is less of a pagan or Christian event and more of a horror movie extravaganza. We face our fears and paranoia by embracing them for a day, celebrating the chaos and randomness in the world. Even though so much of it has been over-commercialized into a sugar high holiday, the general creepy atmosphere is still there waiting. For instance, the phrase trick-or-treat, which has been repeated into meaninglessness, still threatens a trick if you don’t have a treat to give. Egg my house. Toilet paper my yard. Kid’s play. But that idea in the back of my head of worse things remains.
That’s where Michael Myers comes in. The stark white featureless mask of his is the ultimate blank canvas for us to apply whatever it is that we are scared of. He is nicknamed The Shape for a reason. Visually, he is one of the least striking horror villains of all time, but that has ironically made him one of the most memorable. He also has that otherworldly shuffle drifting in and out of scenes like a shark. Myers is the ultimate predator: silent, efficient, and without discrimination.However, some of the scariest scenes are the ones that Myers doesn’t end up killing anyone or isn’t even in.
Halloween II begins literally where the first one ended. Myers was shot through a window by Loomis. Laurie goes to the hospital while Myers body disappears, so Loomis and the local sheriff deputies continue looking for him. While all the main characters with actual dialog go of to do their thing, we get to see Myers wheeze his way through a couple houses. The news is already reporting about the murders from the first flick and neighbors are calling each other to gossip about what is happening so near to them. That growing panic reminds me the most of Halloween, or at least the atmosphere revolving around Halloween. Like during a full moon and your grandmother might say “Uh-oh, the crazies will be out tonight.”
The Halloween series always had one up on the other slashers because of this. Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger were the types of villains that people were always in disbelief that they even existed. Michael Myers, despite the mask and supernatural ambiguity, was a well-documented and reported on serial killer who kept escaping. Watching the town of Haddonfield lose their minds is part of what makes it scary. In Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers for instance, a lynch mob forms after it is clear Myers is killing again, but in their drunken stupor, they only end up accidentally killing one of their nieghbors. In Halloween II, Loomis and the sheriff’s deputies run around like their hair is on fire, even chasing a teen with the same mask as Myers into traffic where he is mowed down by a car. It is as if Myers own mental instability is infectious. It’s like Norman Bates said, “We all go a little mad sometimes.” That scares the crap out of us.
Next time: Jake Gyllenhaal has intimacy issues