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From Our Nightmares: Michael Myers, Halloween

You can feel them. Frigid as a bucket of ice water poured straight down your back. Eyes. The eyes of a stranger. Stalking you through the sunlit suburban streets. Lurking in the shadows of your own home. Wherever you go, the eyes follow. Suddenly, a twig snaps, or an empty bottle rolls across the floor. Your knees lock. Your heart freezes. You turn around and see–nothing. Only air.

Perhaps you’ve just survived an encounter with Michael Myers.

There’s a good reason little Tommy Doyle repeatedly calls John Carpenter’s cold-blooded killer “The Boogeyman”: Michael personifies fear itself. His expressionless white mask is a blank canvas onto which the viewer can project… pretty much anything (even the screenplay approaches its antagonist in vague terms, referring to him only as “The Shape”).

Consider how Carpenter ends the movie. After Dr. Loomis discovers that Michael’s corpse has (unsurprisingly) vanished, the director cuts to a series of dark, empty rooms in the Strode household. And on the soundtrack, the implacable killer’s muffled, labored breathing–monotonous, oppressive, taunting. But do these shots conceal a monstrous murderer… or simply reveal the stuff that haunts our dreams?

[Originally written October 31, 2012.]

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