Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Tragedy of Michael Myers: A Halloween Fantheory

Halloween opens with a shockingly young murderer committing his first kill as he brutally stabs his teenage sister to death. He then wanders outside where his parents find him and remove his mask to reveal what is usually interpreted as a blank, callous look given what the audience has just witnessed. However, a more careful examination reveals the expression on the young boy's face to be more shocked and confused than merely blank. A careful examination also reveals another important detail: There is not one drop of blood on his clothes.

Exhibit A
A six year old stabs his nearly adult sister to death and his clothes are pristine. No blood on his face, no blood on his hands. If he just violently stabbed someone, why is there no blood splatter on him? My theory of this murder is that Judith's boyfriend is the one who killed her. 

Judith's boyfriend rushes down the stairs and out the door shortly after they go up to her room. As a movie watcher, you get the idea that they had sex; but did they, though? I know they're teenagers, but a minute and a half elapses between the time they go upstairs and when the boyfriend leaves. The audience clearly sees Judith is alive and doing some naked hair brushing after her boyfriend leaves. But throughout the opening sequence, we are seeing events through Michael's eyes. If he were a young child who had just walked into his sister's room to find her brutally stabbed to death, he would struggle to make sense of what he was seeing. His mind would try to piece together this event that he has no template for. According to my theory, this is what the audience is seeing. We are not seeing events as they actually unfold, but what Michael remembers as he is trying to make sense of his sister's death. He needs to make what he is seeing logical, so he imagines that when he walked into Judith's room she was still alive and then he imagines himself stabbing her. That's how children make sense of the world. They create elaborate fantasy worlds to figure out how everything works and to practice for the real world. What a child is usually trying to figure out with their fantasy world is what does a mommy or daddy do, or how do I astronaut. But Michael Myers has a much darker incident to figure out. 

Once his parents find him holding the knife used to stab his sister, they assume that Michael is the one responsible for her death. As doctors and lawyers and wardens reinforce his fantasy that he's a murderer, any real memory of what actually transpired is whittled away and all that's left is a bloody knife, a dead teenager, and a child's imagination trying to make sense out of the senseless. Michael apparently spends most of his time catatonic, so his mind never progresses far beyond the six year old trying to understand his sister's death. Fifteen years later he escapes, a child who has been brainwashed into believing that he is nothing more than a killer. Much like kid logic tells a child that they cannot be a cowboy without the hat, Michael Myers is not a murderer without his mask. The few times that his mask gets ripped off, Michael stops the murder-in-progress. There's no real reason to. He's very adept at killing, it's not like he's planning on leaving any witnesses. The Michael Myers underneath the mask is not a murderer. He has to put on the mask and play the role of murderer because every trusted adult he has encountered for most of his life has told him that he is a murderer. Still with the mind of a child, Michael is dutifully following the expectations of his elders and fulfilling the potential that he has been convinced is his nature.

Also, Michael Myers is a cat! 

The opening scene of the original Halloween movie:

Other interesting articles about Michael Myers:

Why Did Michael Myers Start Killing?

This post was based on John Carpenter's original Halloween. I know later Halloween movies went in all kinds of directions, and Rob Zombie's remakes are wonderful but completely different from the original 1978 Halloween. To see the original, you can buy it either digitally or in physical formats from Amazon (affiliate link).


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