Tag Archives: Jamie Lee Curtis

The Face of Evil, part 4

Read Exodus 34:1-7

“Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:21 NLT)

Finally, we come to the last era…well, probably not…but we finally come to the latest era in the Halloween franchise. For this iteration, David Gordon Green took the helm at co-writing and directing Halloween, released in 2018 (aka Halloween 2018). It was written for and released on the 40th anniversary of the release of the original film directed by John Carpenter. In it, Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode, a woman who is faced with the reality that Michael is on the loose again.

This film was envisioned to be a direct sequel to the original film. John Carpenter signed on to be an executive producer and also cowrote the soundtrack with his son. The truth is that Carpenter wasn’t happy with the direction the Halloween films had taken following his exit from the films back in 1982. He signed on to contribute to making the scariest sequel of them all and to recalibrate the series, putting it back on track with the oritinal intent.

You guessed it, that means that this iteration of Michael Myers was much more like the original. He was the walking embodiment of evil that has no reason, let alone moral justification, for what he’s doing. People fear what they don’t understand or know, and Carpenter (as well as David Gordon Green) understood that. To make Michael horrifying again, he had to be brought back to that realm of the mysterious. Why is Michael doing what he’s doing? Simple…he’s evil. There need not be any other reason but that.

With that said, this particular film also delves into the horrific impact that evil can have on its victims. Forty years aater the original film, Laurie strode is living alone in the woods, estranged from her family. Following the events of 1978, Laurie never fully recovered. She had a daughter, but ended up having the daughter taken away by Child Services. Why? Because she turned her entire house into an armed compound and trained her daughter to shoot to kill. The fear of one night forty years ago, had clearly overtaken her life.

To make matters worse, her daughter hates her and thinks she is completely insane, to the point where she is avoiding inviting her mom to dinner to celebrate. The relationship with her granddaughter is also strained, because of the the granddaughter’s mother has on her. She wants a relationship with her grandmom and does not understand why grandma cannot just let Michael go.

Of course, we all know that Michael escapes…AGAIN…and comes to where Laurie and her family are living. On Halloween night, her family realizes that Laurie’s fears were quite real and, those who survive, are quite thankful for her readiness, without spoiling anything. What I love about this film is that it totally takes a look at victims of horrific trauma. It shows us what being a survivor is all about and the horror that unfolds in their life well beyond the actual events that triggered it.

Plenty of people suffer from PTSD and other trauma related illnesses. When we commonly think of PTSD, we think of veterans who served in the military; however, that is one of many groups of people who suffer PTSD. Rape victims, bully victims, car accident victims, police officers, first responders, pastors, and plenty of others can experience PTSD from their own trauma or from experiencing the trauma of others.

Sadly, the church has caused PTSD in others, and I don’t mean just in the sexual abuse cases. I mean that there are a whole host of people who no longer attend church because they no longer view it as a safe place. Perhaps they were burned by people who saw themselves as better or were too selfish to consider another’s feelings. Perhaps they were rejected or treated differently because of how they dressed or whatnot. As Christians, we are being challenged by God to pay attention how we treat people and to avoid being a PTSD inducing people. Let us test ourselves, continually, to make sure we are bringing people to Christ…NOT crisis.

As much as we can spot evil in others, we had better be doubly quick to spot it in ourselves.

Lord, use Scripture and other means to show me how I need to change for the glory of the Kingdom. With your help, all things are possible. Amen.

The Face of Evil, part 2

Read Romans 3:1-20

“Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:21 NLT)

Now that we’ve looked at Norman Bates in the movie Psycho, we move now to another person who is known as a face of evil. His name, of course, is Michael Myers and his movie franchise is the Halloween series, which was first written and directed by John Carpenter in 1978. For horror fans the world over, Michael Myers is one of the three most iconic slasher film villains of all time, along side Jason Vorhees and Freddy Krueger. For horror film fans, those three make up the unholy trinity of bloody mayhem and murder.

Michael, however, was the OG. He was the original. Both Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street Series came after and were influenced by John Carpenter’s Halloween. Also, as was mentioned in the last devotion, Halloween was heavily influenced by Psycho. That makes Psycho the granddaddy of slasher films, and Halloween the daddy of the genre. Halloween, in fact, was so influenced by Hitchcock’s film that Carpenter even named one of his main protagonists, Dr. Samuel Loomis off of Marion Crane’s boyfriend, in Psycho.

Halloween was a fan’s ode to Psycho, but it did change the direction of Hitchcock’s antagonist in order to fit the time within which the film was being written. By the end of the 1970s, the wishful dreaming of the flower power generation was an after thought. We had been through the Cuban Missile Crisis, assassinations, Vietnam, Richard Nixon, the Civil Rights Movement, and a host of other huge, earth shattering events. The generation that was born in the early to mid 60s, the beginnings of Generation X, would by the late 70s be much more cynical than their baby boomer predecessors.

So, as great as it was to view the killer as a human being, John Carpenter was directing his film in a different time than Hitchcock and took it in a bit of a different direction. In this film, Carpenter starts off by introducing us to little Michael Myers, a 6 year old boy, who is left home with his older sister on Halloween. We don’t know this yet, though. At first we think that his older sister is home alone with her boyfriend. They obviously have sex and then the boyfriend leaves. Meanwhile, a hand is shown reaching into the knife drawer. From this point on we are seeing this from a masked person’s point of view.

We see his (our) hand reaching down and pulling out a large kitchen knife, much like the one in Psycho. This killer (us…as this is in the first person perspective) stalks through the house, goes upstairs, and finds the teenage girl sitting naked at her vanity  brushing her hair. That is when she notices him and screams, “Michael”, as he repeated stabs her to death.

He (we) then run(s) outside and a car pulls up. A mom and a dad get out, say the name, “Michael” as they pull off his/our mask.  At that point we leave the first-person perspective and can see that his parents have pulled a mask off of their 6 year old boy, who is bloodied and holding a bloody knife. The screen goes black, the killer has been revealed and the stage set.

So, we start off with a human being, but we quickly learn that this dude ain’t human. He’s super human. He is the walking embodiment of evil. He is evil incarnate and there is literally NOTHING you can do to stop him. Dr. Loomis shot him 6 times and he still got up and was able to kill several more people in the sequel.

This switch in the killer’s identity from human to MONSTER, fueled the rest of the series and, honestly, makes perfect sense in the light of the late 70s and the 1980s. There was much cynicism to be had. The “Moral Majority” was on the rise, as were so-called family values as the Christian response to the counter-cultural movement of the 60s. Of course, the Church is always at least a decade behind the world anymore, and so alongside this Moral Majority comes these horror films that both affirm the family values, but also question the morality of the majority and their ability to really stop evil. After all, had religion stopped evil? Did church stop Hitler during World War II? What evil was thwarted by good? And even if it looks like good won out in the end, did it really. Evil seems to just keep coming back, and back, and back.

The point of this is that while the 60s aimed to tone down focusing on evil…or even deny the existence of evil at all, the 70s and 80s began to embrace the fact that evil exists. The Halloween series showed the moral failings of the previous generation, but also the moral and societal failings of all generations. It reminded the world that the Bible is right in the fact that EVIL EXISTS and it doesn’t have a face. Michael Myers was the human being, but that part of him died. Al that remains is faceless mask over a skulking body; he’s a SHAPE consumed by relentless evil.

The fact of the matter is that EVIL does not need a face to exist. It can exist in any one of us and, truth be told, it can consume and destroy anyone of us. The FACE OF EVIL in this case is a denial of the evil that exists within us. The Bible reminds us of that, which is why today’s Scripture is exactly the same as the last devotion. Michael Myers is not the cause of evil, but a symptom of it. We, too, can become a symptom of evil, or we can choose to turn to Jesus Christ for the cure. Faith in Christ, and his redeeming sacrifice for us on the cross, will certainly deliver us from evil.

EVIL is LIVE backwards. Learn to LIVE FOR JESUS and AVOID EVIL.

Lord, lead me away from temptation and deliver me from evil. Amen.

The Face of Evil, part 1

By Rev. Todd R. Lattig

Read Romans 3:1-20

“Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:21)

One of my all-time favorite horror films is John Carpenter’s Halloween, which was inspired by another one of my favorite horror films, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. The two films have been monumentally impactful in the horror genre. What’s more, the two films are connected to each other because the two lead actresses are literally related to each other. That’s right, Janet Leigh, who starred in Psycho, is Halloween star, Jamie Lee Curtis’ mother. In fact, in 1998 for the 20th anniversary of Halloween, both Jamie Lee and Janet Leigh starred together in Halloween: H20.

Trivia aside, there’s a lot we can learn from Halloween; however, before we do, we need to look at it’s predecessor, Psycho. In that film, Anthony Perkins plays a seemingly kind but socially awkward motel owner who incidentally meets Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) as she stops for the night due to the rain being so bad. Seeing that the Bates Motel had vacancy, she pulls in and meets Norman (Anthony Perkins) who checks her in and offers her food.

What Norman doesn’t know is that Marion had stolen $40,000 from her employer’s client and was on the run. Her boyfriend didn’t know she was going to pull this off, nor did her sister. So, no one knows that Marion is at the Bates Motel, let alone where she might be. What Marion doesn’t know is that there’s more than meets the eye at the Bates motel and, as a matter of fact, we find out that not only is Norman a perverted peeping Tom, but his “mother” is super jealous of other women.

That last fact, sadly, cost Marion her life. While taking a shower, Norman’s “mother” came into the bathroom slowly and silently, ripped open the curtin and stabbed Marion to death with a large kitchen knife. The scene was more than memorable, it literally scarred some people enough that they refused to take a shower again. Of course, Hitchcock being the brilliant director he was, the scene was pulled off without ever showing the knife connect with the body and, in pure Hitchcock fashion, the blood shown going down the drain was actually Bosco Chocolate Syrup because Hitchcock discovered that it looked more red in the Black & White format. Even shooting in B&W was purposeful, as Technicolor was widely available at the time and Hitchcock chose not to shoot it that way.

Of course, I put the word “mother” in quotes because we learn that Norman’s mother is really dead. Norman was into taxidermy and, after poisoning her, he preserved her well and kept her in the basement. To compensate for the loss of his overbearing mother, Norman dressed up like her, imitated her voice and assumed her identity.

As it turned out, Norman was a very sick man who had Dissociative Identity (formerly known as Multiple Personality) Disorder. He was Norman some of the time, he was Mrs. Bates the rest of the time. As Norman, he was a frail, lonely, insecure, awkward boy in a man’s body. As Mrs. Bates, he was cold, demanding, cruel and, as we find out in the film, jealously murderous.

The beauty of this film is how forward thinking it was in terms of mental health. It’s shocking conclusion, with Norman completely gone and Mrs. Bates being completely the dominant personality, really forces the viewer to come face-to-face with mental illness. One cannot hate Norman at the end of the film. Sure, he horrifies you, but there is a level of pity you have for him. His victims should not have died, not even his cruel mom, but he is a victim in all of this too and he cannot help himself.

In our society, we often look at killers such as Norman Bates as being the “Face of Evil”, but Psycho challenges this. Was Norman evil? I mean, yes…what he did was evil, but was Norman Bates, the man, evil? Or was he a sick individual who slipped through the cracks only to turn up when it was brutally too late? Psycho was a very 1960s way of looking at what we call “evil” and trying to put the humanity back into it.

Overall, that is a great thing because, as easy as it would be to view Norman Bates as less than human or a monster, he really is not much different than you and I. The only difference is how his mind works and, truthfully, all of our minds work a bit differently. Norman Bates was a man who was created and loved by God. No, God did not wish for Norman’s life to go down the path it did; however, since when did that give us the permission to BE GOD and judge?

In fact, one of the many faces of evil is JUDGMENT. People who think they are God enough to pass judgment are putting on evil as their way of life. That does not make THEM evil, but their judgmental attitudes are evil for sure. So, before we start getting all self-righteous, we really do need to take a back seat to God. Let us remember that, no matter how awful a person may be acting, they are still a child of God and we are called to love everyone…not judge them.

Evil is as evil does.

Lord, lead me away from temptation and deliver me from evil. Amen.