Today is October 31st, Halloween. So I thought I would examine the hidden message behind the movie of the same name, Halloween. I love this film, all about a psychotic little brother who stalks his older sister while slowly murdering all of the people around her. Although this film could be said to send the message of “beware the little brother”, it is clear to me that it speaks volumes about the sexual and social behaviors of teens. In the movie, Michael Myers was released from a mental hospital where he had spent most of his life. He hides his face behind a Halloween mask and returns to find his long, lost sister. As he follows her around town, creeping her out in the process, he murders her friends and neighbors with no provocation. This horror movie has become a cult classic and has set a standard for many other horror films.
Like in other films of this genre, like Friday the 13th, all have a similar theme. A child is damaged in some way, Micheal Myers had a dysfunctional family and Jason Vorhees was mercilessly bullied, and develop psychotic tendencies. A tragic even occurs, death in both cases, which triggers violence and a need to seek revenge/purification. Both of these stories also hold a common theme among them that teenagers whom act irresponsibly are victimized. Usually the murdered teens were engaging in some sexual behavior and thus placing themselves in a vulnerable position. Halloween basically sends the message that being promiscuous as a teenager comes with severe consequences.
Movies like Halloween actually mimic the same message that had been played out in Urban Legends as far back as the 1950s. The scene where the first victim is murdered in her car on the way to get her boyfriend is actually a nod to the tale about the couple at lovers lane. Although the movie doesn’t have the boyfriend luring the young lady from the car by his sneakers rubbing on the roof as he hangs from a tree, the fact that there are so many striking similarities makes it undeniable.
Many people have speculated on the fact that all of the victims in the Halloween series were engaging in irresponsible behavior. Whether it was drugs, drinking, sex or just breaking the rules the victims all were acting in ways that would harm them in some sense. The question that needs to be asked now, many years after the movie was released, is did it work? Have the Halloween, or any other horror movie, ever made someone second guess their actions? With the rise in teen pregnancy, bullying, juvenile disobedience and teen crime I can honestly say I don’t think it did. Perhaps if the message was a little less subtle, it would actually sink in.