Sunday, September 21, 2014

Nightmare on Elm Street Art from interwebs

Time for some "Nightmare on Elm Street" action to kick off the season of rot.  I've been sketching up a storm, hoping to fill the next fanzine with prime time slime for your consumption.  Hope all you ghouls are snug in your catacombs, waiting to unleash HELL on HALLOW'S EVE!   I particularly like the picture from the NOES NES video game.  I have fond memories of that little devil.  Maybe I'll pound through the NES version of Friday the 13th next and review that in the next zine.  I've got that puppy down in the crypt, I give it a go when my hands aren't busy sketching gore and zombie bull shit, or doing daily worker bee stuff like pay my god damn bills and taxes, cause freedom isn't free!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Halloween: Michael Myers without the mask

I believe the original Halloween should stand on its own.  It's much more effective that way and thematically self contained.  No need for the sequels other than to pander to the fans and the studios looking to capitalize of the original's success. 

With that said the de-masking scene fits brilliantly in the film and serves many thematic purposes which I'd like to touch upon here.  It was an act of subverting expectations; this whole time the killer behind the mask was not a monster, but a man, with a man's face, and it's non-distinctive to the point where it could be anyone.  Michael can take off his mask and blend in with a crowd, like Jack the Ripper, or the Zodiac killer.  It makes him more of a threat.  It also fits in with the idea that evil can exist anywhere; it was not an abstract idea floating out there, it was HOME.  Halloween takes the ordinary and makes it sinister; so this normal looking boy is a killer, this normal looking house is the Boogeyman's house, this normal man is really a super natural killing machine. 

The de-masking scene also shows how desperate Michael is to retain the illusion that he is in fact the Boogeyman.  The de-masking temporarily shattered that illusion; it brought him back down to earth, hence the desperate struggle to get the mask back on before pursuing Laurie.  If the mask was meaningless to him he would have ignored the de-masking and finished choking her to death, but to Michael the ritual of Halloween trumps all.  He wanted to scare her THEN kill her.  It was an important progression to him and the mask was integral to making it happen.  Without the de-masking scene we don't get that urgency from Michael.  It's more alluded to, but that is the only example of him pausing or stopping what he was doing.  He was a force driving forward the entire movie; outside of taking physical beating this is the only time I can think of where he stops with his goal so close, literally in hand.

The vulnerability on his face is a 6 year olds expression, harkening back to the opening sequence when he is de-masked after killing Judith.  If he is copying the ritual of Halloween from 1963 it would be thematically fitting that somehow he was de-masked at the end, tying together the movie.  But another thing to consider is that no matter how vulnerable or catatonic Michael seems he is a veiled threat.  That was what Loomis was trying to get people to believe with little success because of Michael's appearance, his feigned innocence and silent retreat into himself, all of this is deceit.  That last shot drives home the idea that evil can exist anywhere, it was hidden behind the common, the everyday; it was in suburbia, right under our noses.  If he was hideously deformed it would not have carried forward the themes presented in the entire film, and not de-masking him doesn’t bring much to the table either, it doesn’t make the point that Michael can be anyone, anywhere; even an innocuous 6 year old child.

When I use the word "illusion" I am also referring to the idea that Michael was performing a ritual.  He wanted the mask, the tombstone, the bodies, all in place for his impromptu haunted house; all part of the illusion.  He takes normal things and puts a sinister spin on them.  He couldn't maintain that sinister illusion by running around without a mask.  To his 6 year old mind the mask was inseparable from the illusion that he is the Boogeyman, that's why it was so important for him to put the mask back in place and complete the ritualistic murder of Laurie, his new Judith. 

Without the mask the re-enactment of his first murder is incomplete and it seemed like an important point Carpenter wanted to drive home in a simplistic yet brilliant way.  Michael really wanted to “get off” on killing Laurie on terrifying her, and the mask is integral to that equation.  It also drives home the idea that Michael isn’t just out there killing people for killings sake; he plays games with them.  Michael terrifies his victims; it’s a psychological as well as physical assault.  Without the de-masking moment we don’t get the true importance of the mask, or the way it defines Michael (Michael as himself is just an empty shape of a human).

I think Carpenter took pains to express the idea that evil could exist anywhere, even in an idyllic mid-western town, even in a 6 year old boy or young teen.  I think that point is more important to the overall plot of the film than Myers being more than human, and is emphasized at the end by revisiting all the locations he touched or tainted with his evil.  These non-sinister locations at day are suddenly foreboding fortresses of horror at night; normal locations that could be in ANYTOWN, USA inverted and made evil. 

Myers being more than human is only part of what makes him the Shape; the tricks and the stalking, the emphasis on re-enacting the death of Judith, the Halloween mask, all encapsulate what makes him The Shape.  Remove those aspects and he is nothing.  The nomenclature is meant to convey the idea that he appears human (again, emphasis on appearances) but is only defined by his actions and the ritual of Halloween.  On the surface he is human but internally he is missing any persona that would define him as a human being, so he is defined by killing, by evil.  The de-masking was not meant to bring the idea that Myers was a normal man to light. The Shape has a foot in both the physical and meta-physical realms.  It’s meant to re-emphasize the idea that he APPEARS normal.  He could be anyone.  

If we are going to give Carpenter the credit he deserves we have to assume the de-masking was a calculated decision.  He knew what the expectation of the audience was, and instead of catering to it he fell back into the themes playing throughout the movie. 

Michael's plain face; a true representative of evil, and it looks like the next door neighbor, the high school quarterback, the lone hobo on the side walk, the face of normality, of the common place, and that's the snare that will trap you.  He doesn't look like a monster; it's a monster in THE SHAPE of a man.  Both aspects of Michael are equally important to realize.  The sequels seemed only focused on Michael as the MONSTER.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Art dump...9/8/14

Still carving out the next slice of sleaze, till then here are more works in progress to sate your sickness...