For decades, the filmmakers who took over the helm of the Halloween franchise – directed by Dwight H. Little Halloween 4 on Rob Zombie and his controversial origin-story duology – have dealt with the question of who Michael Myers is and what does he represent? Franchise creators John Carpenter and Debra Hill never came up with an answer that allows directors, writers, and fans to ponder the nature of this unstoppable evil called The Shape.
But in the newest film in Blumhouse’s Halloween sequel trilogy, director David Gordon Green and co-writer Danny McBride create a tantalizing connection between The Shape and the collective trauma that seems to be so much of everyday life in America today. Halloween kills invites the audience to speculate on whether Michael Myers is supernatural and what he symbolizes. Paranoia? Prejudice? Toxic masculinity? Everything is up for debate in the new film.
As always, this conversation has been edited to make it sound less strange.
Dave: Let’s talk briefly about Michael Myers: do you think he’s a substitute for toxic masculinity?
Henry: You know, they don’t call it The Shape for no reason, do they? I think Michael Myers of the top three classic ’80s monsters – Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers – is the most similar to Michael Myers in general. And that’s why they call it The Shape. And I think there is a lot that could be done to him. I think there’s a lot that can be applied to him if you just choose to go through the films and create an argument about him.
Dave: When you came up with the idea that his name is The Shape, I thought you would say something about Spanx. How Spanx forces women to dress differently.
Henry: It’s a very fun idea. But if he had a big, juicy bum, I’d agree with you.
Jonah: Just like the words Haddonfield said on his ass, just walking around.
Dave: His jumpsuit doesn’t really highlight the merchandise if you know what I’m talking about.
Henry: It’s the shoulders and he’s big. He is tall. The shape is very big, which I think makes it very attractive to a lot of people.
Dave: Look, we all love our short kings on Galaxy Brains. Jonah and I are both very tall people, but we are here to support them. We give something back to the community.
Henry: A hurricane blow. This is what I am doing to fight back against Michael Myers. I think so as a little man.
Jonah: As a great man, I’ve learned to apologize when I meet someone.
Henry: You know, Ben Cassel, my co-host, is six feet tall. He talks all the time about my freedom to be angry in public. But he can’t. I mean because it’s too big, so it can’t be. He can never raise his voice, but I can. I always scream.
Dave: Do you know who I think is a pretty tall man? Johannes Zimmermann. And of course John Carpenter created Halloween with partner Debra Hill, but he’s also made other films about tough guys throughout his career. Escape from New York, The Thing, They Live, Assault on Precinct 13. And you know the list goes on. Spirits of Mars, which we’ll be talking about soon in the Blankocheck podcast.
Henry: Spirit of mars is underestimated.
Dave: But he’s also directed movies that I think kind of tweak the tough guy idea, like Big problems in Little China.
Jonah: Yes, it’s like a parody of tough action heroes.
Dave: Total parody. Memories of an invisible man, a movie people forget, directed by John Carpenter and starred by Chevy Chase.
Henry: I like this movie. We were obsessed with this movie as kids.
Dave: I think it’s super undervalued. Yes, it may be Chevy’s best performance in a movie. And then he made Starman too, a very romantic, sweet film. So my question is, is John Carpenter the most alert director when it comes to straight white men making films about straight white men?
Henry: I think he’s a versatile director and I think he looks at things from many different angles. I think he’s not afraid to question himself what could be called woken up. He’s very confident about what he’s bringing into the world, but his stuff also has a lot of themes. I also think that’s the beauty of horror in general. Like science fiction. When sci-fi and horror are at their best, they can really approach a social issue in a way that is user-friendly for all of us who mostly just like screaming people or octopus monsters. I’m no longer a drama or even comedy person. Basically, I watch genre films all day. So it helps me learn if you throw it in. It’s like putting cheese on vegetables. Then I’ll consume it.
Jonah: It’s the spoonful of sugar idea that you come in because of some kills, but you might learn something in the process.
Henry: You can learn something, you can get something. You know, I’ve always seen Michael Myers as a kind of fear of Christian retribution for premarital sex and the idea that he’s that roaming punishment system for anyone who dares to believe that they could ever have a life that encouraged joy includes, even in a place like Haddonfield, right? Like a small town where you want to become a baby factory as quickly as possible. And like the idea that like anyone who expresses themselves in any way, you are haunted by life, it comes and kills you. And then just the damn, never-ending, never-ending wall of death that will come for all of us.