‘Why won’t he die?!’: Post-Halloween Musings on Michael Myers as Evil Personified
This October I watched a plentiful amount of gruesome horror, and towards the end of the month I found myself revisiting the Halloween series. It’s not my favourite slasher, so often I’ll skip it in the days leading up to Hallowe’en in favour of something more darkly comical or over-the-top gory.
This year, the new entry started me down the road: Halloween Kills (2021). Its uninspired awfulness prompted me to quickly follow it up with something better from the series, to wash the bad taste out my mouth.
I rewatched David Gordon Green’s first entry, the 2018 reboot Halloween (better), before lining up Rob Zombie’s two entries from 2007 and 2009 (distinctive, interesting, enjoyable).
Following Zombie’s Halloween II, the journey still felt incomplete. I had to watch a classic entry. It seemed logical to jump back to the original, 1981 version of Halloween II.
Rick Rosenthal directs, and John Carpenter has writing, producing, and music credits. Jamie Lee Curtis is at the peak of her powers as Scream Queen, and Donald Pleasence gives one of his most enjoyably theatrical performance as Dr. Loomis.
The atmosphere of Halloween II is immediately and obviously different from the newer movies. The presence of Michael Myers is heavy, palpable, and sinister. Fatiguing. His pursuit of Laurie, as Dr. Loomis pursues him, feels like a mythological battle of good versus evil.
Unlike recent entries in the series, it’s hard not to become emotionally invested. This contrast brings out what makes the first movies special: they are full of dread and tension. Less about scares than the looming, suffocating sense of a malign presence approaching.
In Halloween II, Michael Myers feels like what Dr. Loomis says he is: an embodiment of evil. Not a man, and not a monster who exists for the purposes of crazy kill scenes, jumps, and blood-spattered thrills and spills (that’s what Jason Voorhees was made for).
A simple question asked by Laurie with interrogative despair towards the end of the film captures the essence of Myers:
‘Why won’t he die?!’