Halloween II – Casual Domestic Abuse

Effective comedy in a horror movie can lighten the mood and, by contrast, make the horror elements all the more potent.  Sounds simple enough and people have been saying this forever.  Funny thing is, it’s really hard to do well.  For every genuinely amusing moment in a horror movie, I’m pretty sure I’ve found at least 100 others that fall flat.  Most often, the best laughs are inadvertent.  This isn’t to say that I get off on laughing derisively at these movies.  The majority of these pages are filled with subtle nuances that may not have been intentional but, for one reason or another, have tickled my funny bone.

You know, like the subtle nuances of Kevin Bacon's boner...

You know, like the subtle nuances of Kevin Bacon’s boner…

I love not being able to tell if a filmmaker meant to do something hilarious and today’s addition is an example of that.  Here’s how it happened:

After being shot several times at the end of the first film, Michael Myers is skulking around some backyards.  He slinks into a house with two elderly people.  The man is asleep in front of a television and the woman is cutting slices off of a hunk of ham with a large kitchen knife.  Michael sneaks in, takes the knife, and smears some blood on the cutting board for good measure.  The old lady (Mrs. Elrod) reaches for the knife and finds the blood instead; she screams.  Nothing too notable so far.

Mrs. Elrod

We then cut to a teenage neighbor, Alice, chatting on the phone.  The aforementioned scream is loud enough to be heard next door and through the phone.  Alice goes outside to make sure everything is okay, but she doesn’t put too much effort into it.  She just sort of hollers over but doesn’t seem too bothered when she receives no response.

Her reasoning is sound enough:

There was someone screaming next door…Yeah, Mr. and Mrs. Elrod.  His wife’s always picking on him.  He probably got angry and decided to start beating her…Big deal!

Alice is so nonchalant about the whole thing – hmmm, he beats her or he doesn’t beat her…

halloween_2_collectors_edition_12

The important thing is, was she nagging him enough to deserve it?

It’s a quote and delivery like this that make me realize the huge differences between movies made now and movies made then  Political correctness was in an entirely different place in the early 80s than it is in 2015.  It’s easy to see in crazy clips where Bugs Bunny pretends to be a slave and begs Yosemite Sam not to beat him:

But clips like this one in Halloween II don’t raise red flags as quickly as old racist children’s cartoons do.  Perhaps it’s because it’s an R rated movie to begin with or maybe it has more to do with the blase delivery.  Whatever the reason, I watched this movie regularly for years before I picked up that there was anything even unusual about a line like that.  It’s interesting to note how the climate of political correctness has changed even within my lifetime.

I usually pick moments that amuse me for this collection.  This is no exception.  That’s not to say that I think domestic violence is funny but this line cracks me precisely because of how not funny domestic violence is.  I hope that makes as much sense in print as it does in my head.

It should be noted that Michael does kill Alice here.  This seems a little out of character as Michael usually has a bit more focus – he doesn’t often kill people that aren’t either his target or somehow getting in between him and his target.  He doesn’t even attempt to kill the Elrods – and that would have at least made some sense as he wouldn’t want them making a ruckus over the missing knife.  He went completely out of his way to kill Alice for no discernible reason.  He watched this despicable conversation and decided domestic violence was no laughing matter.

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6 Responses to Halloween II – Casual Domestic Abuse

  1. Tony Parsons says:

    Evil Dead 2 probably has the most integrated horror and comedy – where you’re laughing at the stooges-like slapstick but still pretty creeped out and horrified at what’s befalling Ash … usually horror and comedy plays out in separate scenes. They do coexist well, though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • drhumpp says:

      Usually my favorite instances of comedy in horror are unintentional, but it can be done well on purpose as well.

      My favorite horror comedies are probably Bad Taste and Dead Alive, but both are very low on scares. Plenty of gore, but nothing really terrifying. Still, Bad Taste will always bring a smile to my face.

      Like

  2. Dr. Jose says:

    I feel like the change in social climate — specifically the push not to offend — has accelerated so rapidly within the last few years that we’ve all been left dizzy, and now we don’t know what items to glance over and what to take issue with, so we end up over-scrutinizing everything.

    I’m guilty of it: when I watched MONSTER SQUAD two days ago, my sensitivity alarms started blaring — repeated use of calling Fatkid “fat”; the passive use of the term “homo”; spying on the young female neighbor undressing; being afraid of the “scary German guy”. There’s nooo fucking WAY that movie would fly today. Of course, I watched it religiously growing up, and look at me: a well-adjusted maniac. And speaking of, another kids movie full of no-nos: BIG.

    Sadly, I feel like most older films I watch now automatically go through a subconscious “would this be allowed today?” filter in my brain. And most of them wouldn’t!

    Liked by 1 person

    • drhumpp says:

      I remember watching The Monster Squad as a kid and not thinking anything was even slightly off, but when I watched it with my 10 year old son I was surprised to hear “Faggot”. It didn’t even register with me then.

      When I look at Halloween II, the shift in political correctness seems more amusing than anything. Other times, it seems stifling and infuriating.

      On the other hand, when I hear this stuff in movies now it can so out of place that it seems like it was inserted strictly to offend. That’s no good either.

      I heard a white middle school kid call another white middle school kid the N-word a while back. It sounded so stupid and ignorant that I could only shake my head. Problems arise when you hear something this foolish and start to scrutinize everything you see and hear anything that is possibly offensive.

      This is too big of a topic to get very far with on a post like this. I’m glad you brought it up though. Your posts are always thought provoking and interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jay says:

    Ha – yes to the unintentionally funny bits. Sometimes that’s what gets me through!

    Liked by 1 person

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