Michael Myers is unstoppable. Despite many misguided attempts to graft other characteristics onto his persona, his relentlessness remains his defining character trait. He’s a mute in a white mask, a blank slate for us to project our fears onto – in the original script he’s simply referred to as “the shape.” This sinister implacability is the character’s main draw in the early Halloween films, though it quickly becomes a problem which reaches it’s nadir in The Curse Of Michael Myers, when Michael is revealed to be the central figure in an ancient cult’s semi-druidic belief system. As the main antagonist of a long-running franchise, he’s a bit insubstantial, but as boogieman, he’s mythic.
The narrator of “Michael Myers Resplendent” is not actually Michael Myers – at least, not exactly. He seems to be stuntman working on one of the Halloween movies, or a movie with similar themes and concepts. In this scene, the narrator is portraying the killer at the explosive, climactic moment of the film, and details in the lyrics (“waxed my chest and shaved off all my hair”) suggest that he will literally be set on fire for a short period of time.
In high-intensity situations such as this, the lines between actor and performer have a tendency to blur. The stuntman feels a deep connection with the character he’s portraying – even if his words don’t quite lay it out for us, there’s no mistaking that powerful surge of drums and strings leading into the chorus. That’s the moment of anticipation as he slips into his second skin and prepares his shining moment of glory.
In the press kit for Heretic Pride, Darnielle says that this song “is like Sax Rohmer #1 if the narrator had given up on ever actually getting home.” It’s a statement that I have to admit has captivated me to a great degree – it provides the album with a clear thematic bookend, and it’s difficult for me to hear either song and not consider it in light of the other. “Michael Myers Resplendent” is the worst promises of “Sax Rohmer” come to fruition – utter and complete disaster on all fronts. Hope and longing crushed by reality and calcified into pure despair.
The narrator of “Michael Myers” exists in almost zen-like state of failure; he has fully accepted it as a part of himself. He breathes his failure in and out like oxygen; he meditates on his own failings each morning and feels at one with the grander failings of the entire cosmos. He knows that success exists, but it’s a world away from the unglamorous life he leads as a low-level knock-around good in the entertainment industry. Sure, everybody loves a winner, but when you’re just a piece of scum circling the drain, that knowledge is pretty useless.
And yet, he’s still going. He’s getting up every day and lugging himself into that make-up chair, trudging onto the set and hitting his mark. And it’s not just for that one moment of bliss when the music swells and all eyes are on in. It’s because he doesn’t know how to stop. His heart is an engine powered by failure and disappointment. You can shoot him six times, you can set him on fire or drop him down a mine shaft, electrocute him and cut off his head. It doesn’t matter. He’ll just keep coming. Sure, everybody loves a winner. But who gives a fuck what they think?