Sermon: Halloween Is Back, And It’s About Time

Anyone who’s known me for five minutes knows the Halloween franchise is my favorite movie series of all time. The 1978 original is the purest and simplest “good versus evil story” I can think of, with not one but two heroic characters you can really root for (Laurie Strode and Dr. Sam Loomis), plus a truly frightening villain (Michael Myers or “the Shape”) who is every bit as iconic as Darth Vader or the Joker. Many of Halloween‘s sequels, “requels,” and other spin-offs have built upon this original premise to produce a mythos that is much richer than most others of its ilk, and many of us fans were worried the newest film from 2018 would not live up to this heritage. After giving myself a year to re-watch David Gordon Green’s Halloween (2018) several times, I think I’m ready to pass my final verdict on this latest offering.

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Sermon: Dehumanizing the Other in Stan Winston’s Pumpkinhead

When I was a kid, my grandmother told me ghost stories from the American South. Being a Dixie girl, she knew all about such monsters as “the Head-Chopper,” “the Boggart,” and “Raw Head and Bloody Bones.” I loved these gruesome stories, which in my opinion were the predecessors of the 1950s E.C. Comics (i.e., the ones that published Tales From the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, and The Haunt of Fear). Most of these stories are morality tales, in which chaos is visited upon the wicked. Raw Head and Bloody Bones, for instance, was originally an enchanted hog who could talk and who lived with a kindly old witch in the woods. He never bothered anyone at all until this total jerkola came along and slaughtered him. Then ol’ Raw Head came back from the grave and avenged himself against his killer, and now he prowls the countryside at night, eating naughty children who misbehave and disobey their elders.

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Doug Bradley of Hellraiser Listens to Ghost

Holy shit. Doug Bradley (the guy who played “Pinhead” in the original Hellraiser movies) apparently listens to lots of Ghost. They oughta hire him to come out on stage in full Cenobite regalia and do a couple of Eurythmics songs together with Papa Emeritus II. That would be pretty bitchin’, I’d sell one of my kidneys to see that. (Preferably the troublesome one!)

And I don’t care what anyone says, Ghost IS metal. They just fit more into the retro-1970’s classic metal style, as opposed to the alternative or extreme subgenres. Not every metal band needs to sound like Cannibal Corpse, you know!

Sermons on Occult Cinema

The Monster Film as Mythos
“I believe Set and other Pagan gods like to reveal themselves through popular cultural media, and in ways that are more often subliminal than not.”

Too Many Mumm[ies]
The Mummy is pro-Pagan in its insistence that the ancient Egyptian religion is true and continues to have power and currency today.”

Set On Screen
“Popular culture has appropriated and taken so much liberty with Set over the years that most people only know about Him from reading comic books or watching science fiction TV shows.”

The Stuff Nightmares Are Afraid of
“By attacking Ra, Apep isn’t just posing a cosmic threat against the Creator; it’s also posing a personal threat against all creatures that sleep and dream.”

Gorgo the Irish Feminist Sea-Dragon
“Bearing this in mind, Mama Gorgo is a perfect cinematic avatar for Taweret, and watching this film is like watching the Great Female crush the racist capitalist patriarchy beneath Her cute, stubby toes.”

On Rosemary’s Baby, the Satanic Panic, and Pagan Leadership
“As with any witch hunt in history, no evidence was required; countless people were thrown in prison and prohibited from seeing their children just on the basis of rumors and hearsay.”

Halloween: When the Barriers Are Down
“I think it’s important to keep the true spirit of Halloween alive as much as we can, and despite being fictional, Michael Myers and Conal Cochran are both excellent reminders as to why.”

Walpurgisnacht: The Other Halloween
“It’s most often observed in continental Europe by wearing scary costumes, lighting huge bonfires, and making all kinds of godawful racket to scare away the evil spirits.”

A Setian Exegesis of John Carpenter’s The Thing
“Otherness has been painted red and given devil horns for Set knows how long, but true evil is the desire to exterminate otherness, to eliminate whatever is different.”

Ishtar’s Final Conflict With “The Man”
“Kate Reynolds was clearly meant to be the savior of humanity in this film from its very conception; and in casting her as such, The Final Conflict offers us a most unexpected soteriology.”

David Gordon Green’s Halloween (2018) is a Treat, Not a Trick

On Saturday evening, the Missus and I went to go see David Gordon Green’s new Halloween movie (2018). We were not disappointed in the slightest. I had much the same emotional reaction from seeing this flick that many Star Wars fans got from seeing Episode VII: The Force Awakens back in 2015. It was like seeing an old-fashioned Halloween movie again. Watching Jamie Lee Curtis beat the living shit out of Michael Myers is just about my favorite thing to see.

I’m not going to go into too much detail about the film—I’ll wait a few months before I give this movie a proper review and really dissect it for everyone. But I did notice that a certain film critic at CNN named Brian Lowry has accused the film of being little more than your average slasher fare. He also accuses it of sabotaging its own message of female empowerment by having so many “women who wind up on the chopping block.” First, I’d like to point out that Lowry’s tone betrays his prejudice against slasher movies in general. While it is true that slasher movies of the early 1980s were particularly questionable in the ways they portrayed their female characters, this is most certainly not true of the original Halloween from 1978 (or even most of its sequels and spin-offs). We might also point out that slasher movies have generally become much more woman-friendly since the 1990s (as in Wes Craven’s Scream from 1996 and Jim Gillespie’s I Know What You Did Last Summer from 1997). So I think Mr. Lowry’s insistence on judging this new Halloween movie based on “common knowledge” of slasher films is ill advised.

But perhaps my biggest beef with Lowry here is that he doesn’t appear to have watched the same film I watched at all. He describes it as a “fairly by-the-numbers slasher movie” in which the gruesome deaths are “mostly involving [teenagers],” and then he makes a joke about not getting attached to anyone who isn’t old enough to drink legally. (In many early 1980s slasher films, the characters are usually teenagers who go to an isolated spot so they can drink, smoke, and have sex without any parental interference; as they are picked off by the killer, it often seems to film critics as though the characters are being “punished” for violating White Anglo-Saxon Protestant values.) Lowry’s comments are ironic given that most of the victims in Green’s Halloween (2018) are not teenagers, but adults. Roughly half of them are male, and the men suffer the most grueling deaths by far. (No spoilers, but it does not pay to be a cop in Haddonfield, Illinois.)

More importantly, Lowry seems to have missed the entire character arc of Laurie Strode, her daughter Karen, and her granddaughter Allyson. Again, I’m not going to discuss any spoilers, but this movie grapples with issues like post-traumatic stress disorder, trauma, and grief. It shows us that the things that happen in these movies can have real consequences that continue to effect people for decades after they’ve already happened. It even explores the idea of a female survivor’s story not being believed, not only by men, but by other women as well. My wife put it best when we were leaving the theater: This is not just a “by-the-numbers slasher movie,” but a Halloween movie for the #MeToo era, which is very lovely thing to see.

Apart from saying that I think this is literally the best Halloween film to have been produced since 1988, I can’t recommend this movie highly enough. If you dig horror movies, do yourself a favor and go see this flick. And if you’re worried at all about this film being misogynist or anti-woman, let me put your fears to rest. If we had a daughter, my wife and I would take her to see this movie because we both think Laurie Strode is a fantastic role model for young women everywhere.

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My Dr. Loomis Costume, Samhain 2007

I don’t typically wear costumes for Halloween these days, but there was a time when I did. Below is a picture of what is probably the very last costume I ever wore. A little backstory: this was the year when Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake was released, and I was sorely pissed. And the thing that pissed me off the most was how Zombie handled the Dr. Loomis character, who was played by Donald Pleasence in the 1978 original. Loomis was played by Malcolm McDowell in the remake, and McDowell is a brilliant actor, but even Sir Lawrence Olivier would have buckled under Zombie’s inept direction. I will never, never, NEVER accept Dr. Loomis as a self-serving media whore who just wants to make money off of Michael Myers with all his lurid “true crime” books. The REAL Dr. Loomis is an elderly badass who is always the first to risk his life and his career to rescue people. Well, I was so personally offended by Rob Zombie’s version of the character that I decided to be Dr. Loomis for Halloween that year, so that the memory of Donald Pleasence could be given some proper respect.

Forget Trump—This is the REAL Donald.

(If it seems strange that I care so much about this particular issue, I’d just like to point out that if someone made a new Star Trek movie in which Captain Kirk were some kind of serial killer, we’d never hear the end of it.)

Well it turns out that in the neighborhood I was living in at the time, there was a family with a 7-year old son, whom the parents decided to dress as Michael Myers as a way of honoring the original movie. So when they took their boy ’round the neighborhood for trick-or-treating that evening, they were surprised to find none other than Dr. Loomis waiting for them at the end of the street. And instead of shooting young Michael six times point blank in the chest, I just gave him two generous handfuls of candy. Then we posed for this awesome photograph:

I just want to point out that I am SUCH a fanatic when it comes to these dang movies, I actually shaved my head for this costume. Turned out pretty good, too, even if I do say so myself!