Halloween opens with all the necessary information you need to understand Michael Myer’s back-story: who he is, where he came from, and what he did. And it spends a good 30% of the film focusing on the transition of his cheerful young self into the chained and silent mass-murderer he becomes. One prominent and recurring icon throughout the entire film is Michael’s mask. From a young age, he already takes a liking to them. These masks seem to hold his secret identity and it gets worse as he gets older- creating hundreds of masks to hang around his room, no longer for the purpose of hiding his quirks, but to finally become his identity.1
The idea of the masks reminds me of a line I once heard from Never Been Kissed: “See, Shakespeare’s making the point here that when we’re disguised, we feel freer. We can do things we wouldn’t do in ordinary life.”
The masks held all of Michael’s power. They gave him the authority to feel that he could do things he wouldn’t normally do, such as kill animals, and eventually, people. Without the mask, he was simply Michael, but with it, he had become a killer.
In her article “Her body, himself” Barbara Creed states two interesting ideas. The first being “We are linked, in this way, with the killer in the early part of the film, usually before we have seen him directly and before we have come to know the Final Girl in any detail. Our closeness to him wanes as our closeness to the Final Girl waxes—a shift underwritten by story line as well as camera position. By the end, point of view is hers.”
You can clearly see this in Halloween because halfway through, the film shifts as if it was created in two parts: “Before” and “After”. The “Before” being about Michael and the “After” shifting focus to Laurie- his baby sister who was salvaged from the ruins of Michael’s childhood, and has since then grown into a teenage girl completely oblivious to her origin.
Secondly, “The gender of the Final Girl is likewise compromised from the outset by her masculine interests, her inevitable sexual reluctance, her apartness from other girls, sometimes her name.” Laurie seems to be the perfect example of these factors. From the first few moments she appeared, her boyish charm, virginity, aloofness, even her unisex name- “Laurie”, separated her from her friends.
What bothers me about this is that sexuality is such a great determinant for a woman’s chances for survival in horror film. There’s always that one girl who is just a little bit more comfortable with her sexuality than others, and she usually ends up being murdered in the middle of intercourse or something equally degrading (which happened more than once in this film). Halloween was full to the brim of teenage sexuality and stupidity, and that’s probably why it didn’t work out so well for me.