The Scariest Thing About 'Halloween' Is It Reminded Me Of My Childhood
As the iconic John Carpenter theme song played over the opening credits to the latest Halloween sequel, I found myself caught off-guard by a thought: ‘I wish I could talk to my dad about this’.
My father died on January 1st, 2015, after a year-long battle with leukemia. We didn’t always have a great relationship, and we didn’t have a whole lot in common, but as the theme song played, I was suddenly 13 years old again, standing in the video store, as my dad explained to me that John Carpenter was the original legend of horror, and that the theme song was a classic moment in cinematic history.
Moments like this pop up once in a while, when something clocks me out of nowhere and I’ll want to tell my dad about it. The last time it happened, it was because I wanted to talk to him about the first episode of Riverdale. He’d loved Archie Comics, and would often bring home Betty and Veronica Double Digests for me to read. I know he would have been interested in hearing about the series, and would’ve continued asking me about it long after I stopped watching.
Since I was 11, I’ve always been a stan -- a fanatic, a superfan, a fan girl. First it was the Spice Girls, then Titanic, Britney Spears, Scream and other horror movies, Buffy, the list goes on and on.
My dad fanned the flames of my fandom, taking me to the markets every Sunday to trade Spice Girls stickers, printing out Buffy gossip and spoilers for me at work and bringing them home for me to read before we had the internet at home, and agreeing to take me and a friend to see The Rage: Carrie 2 at the cinema but to not sit with us when I was 14, because we couldn’t get into the MA rated film without an adult, but were simultaneously too mortified to be seen with a parent at the cinema. Did I mention that I was a little troll bitch from hell? Picture Quinn Morgandorffer from Daria, she’s a pretty accurate representation of my 14-year-old self.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but my sci-fi loving dweeb of a dad, who didn’t understand so much about me, was teaching me fandom because he too was a stan. He used help to organise science fiction book conventions in the 70s, and — as I found out at his funeral -- had been emailing the Adelaide Crows’ coach with his thoughts on how the team could perform better, a tidbit I found simultaneously hilarious and mortifying, weird and eccentric.
The new Halloween erases all the previous sequels in order to tell a story focused on how the trauma of Halloween night in 1978 lives on in 2018. We see how Laurie’s trauma has affected Laurie’s daughter and granddaughter, showing how Laurie’s life has been defined by it, and how it’s affected all her relationships over the years.
Now, although my brother’s name IS Michael, no one in my family has ever faced such a horrific event. It’s lucky, really, because I have a chronic pain condition and I don’t think I’d cope very well with the stress of being confronted with such stress, and my dad was so clumsy he once tripped while walking down a hill, broke his arm and rolled into a barbed wire fence.
Still, my dad’s childhood wasn’t the easiest, and I’ve had my own battles with health and mental health over the years, too. Confronted with stress, my dad would always choose escapism, turning to the fantasy worlds of his favourite novels, focusing his attention on collecting (see also: hoarding) books and movies, and loved nothing more than when I gave him a mission that requires hours spent sifting through YA novels in a second-hand bookstore.
Similarly, when things get rough in my own life, I retreat to my bedroom to watch and rewatch my stories, to read a new mystery novel, to Twitter, where I’ll find out what Britney did today, yesterday or on this day nine years ago. Pop culture as a coping mechanism is something that was so instinctual to me that it didn’t even occur to me that it was a distraction from my own life.
Although it’s perhaps not an ideal coping strategy -- to spend one’s life more concerned about Britney Spears’ than your own -- it’s the trickle down effect of my parents, who both escaped into fictional worlds to avoid facing their problems. Like Laurie’s daughter in Halloween, I have the benefit of being a generation removed and living in a world where I can self-reflect and also attend therapy, to learn how to cope with my problems while still enjoying all the things I love.
Without my Dad teaching me how to be a stan, I probably wouldn’t have been at the Halloween premiere. I wouldn’t have been able to talk to Jamie Lee Curtis this week. I wouldn’t be sitting here telling you all about it. Since I can’t tell him, I’ll tell you guys instead: the movie was sick, I loved every second of it, it’s a classic slasher that delivered exactly what I wanted from it. I laughed, I screamed, I had a blast, and I highly recommend going to see it.