Thursday, April 11, 2013

Halloween VI, Texas Chainsaw Massacre IV and the Meaning of Horror Part II

Welcome to the second installment in my examination of the sixth Halloween film, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (also known as Halloween 666: The Origins of Michael Myers) and Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (also known as The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre). To my mind both of these films are related in two distinct ways: The era in which they were both released (the mid-1990s prior to the release of the first Scream) and their inclusion of a cultic plot line that references, whether intentionally or not, the theories of researchers such Ed Sanders, Maury Terry, David McGowan and Peter Levenda concerning an underground cult network with ties to several notorious serial killers, specifically Charles Manson and David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz.

Manson (top) and Berkowitz (bottom)

These connections were in discussed in depth in part one of this series, which ended with me breaking down the convoluted plot line of the various versions of Halloween 6. I left off at Tommy Doyle (Paul Rudd)'s rune of thorn/Samhain revelation that he delivers to Kara Strode (Marianne Hagan) as Michael Myers dispatches members of her family in the house next door, the Strode residency of the first Halloween film. Shortly thereafter Tommy leaves and returns with Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence), Michael's nemesis throughout the series. Realizing that Michael is next door, the group prepares to act but are interrupted by the mysterious Man in Black, who is already in the house.

At this point let us pause and consider the implications of the Man in Black figure in the Halloween franchise. He first appeared, along with the ill-explained rune of thorn, in the fifth Halloween film with equally little explanation. Of course, the Man in Black is such an archetypical figure to begin with that he really needs no real explanation. Humanity has lived with this figure for centuries. Demonology and fairy myths from the Middle Ages allude to trickster-like figures dressed in black. The Renaissance alchemist Johann Friedrich Schweitzer claimed to have been given a method of transforming base metals into gold by a mysterious figure clad in black.
"On December 27, 1666, when Johann Friedrich Schweitzer, called Helvetius, was working in his study at The Hague, a stranger attired all in black appeared and informed him that he would remove all Helvetius' doubts about the existence of the legendary philosopher's stone that could serve as the catalyst to change base metals into gold. The stranger immediately drew from his pocket a small ivory box containing three pieces of metal the color of brimstone and, for their size, extremely heavy. The man proclaimed that with those three bits of metal, he could make as much as twenty tons of gold.

"Helvetius examined the pieces of metal, taking opportunity of a moment's distraction to scrape off a small portion with his thumbnail. Returning the metal to his mysterious visitor, he asked that he perform the process of transmutation before him. The stranger answered firmly that he was not allowed to do so. It was enough that he had verified the existence of the metal to Helvetius. It was his purpose only to offer encouragement to alchemical experiments.

"After the man's departure, Helvetius procured a cubicle and a portion of lead into which, when the metal was in a molten state, he threw the stolen grain he had secretly scraped from the stranger's stone. The alchemist was disappointed when the grain evaporated and left the lead in its original state.

"Some weeks later, when he had almost forgotten the incident, Helvetius received another visit from the stranger. This time the man in black transmuted several ounces of lead into gold. Then he permitted Helvetius to repeat the process by himself, and the alchemist converted six ounces of lead into very pure gold.

"Later Helvetius demonstrated the power of the philosopher's stone in the presence of the Duke of Orange and many other prestigious witnesses. After repeated demands for such incredible demonstrations, Helvetius exhausted the small supply of catalytic pieces that he had received from the mysterious visitor. Search as he might, he could not find the man in all of north Holland or learn his name -- nor did the stranger ever again visit him."
(Conspiracies and Secret Societies, Brad & Sherry Steiger, pg. 7)
Johann Friedrich Schweitzer

But it was not until the modern era that the Men in Black became a full-blown cultural phenomenon, primarily due to their association with UFO sightings (specifically their aftermaths) of course.
"... Men in Black and in keeping somehow with their old fashion, fifties-style suits and cars. They are B-movie demons. They appear in the aftermath of a UFO sighting, often before it has even been reported, usually when the witness is 'by chance' alone. They wear white shirts with their smart black suit; they appear foreign or 'oriental'; they have dark skins and slanting eyes. They behave stiffly, formally, speaking without expression, like robots. Witnesses accept them as normal at first, as when we see a ghost but when they reflect on the men, they do not seem to have been quite human. The Men in Black sometimes wear uniforms, like Air Force officials. If they offer names or identification, these turn out to be false. They know details about the witness's life which they could not possibly know in the normal course of things. Like the bogus social workers, their visits are sinister -- they even issue threats and warnings -- but these things come to nothing. They are not, like other daimons, more real than life; they are merely life-like. They do not inspire horror or awe; they merely induce mild paranoia. They are, needless to say, never traced. They are unpleasant Tricksters who belong at the same imaginative level as second-rate science fiction."
(Daimonic Reality, Patrick Harpur, pg. 229)

The same could certainly be said of second rate horror as well. In the case of Halloween 6, the Man in Black turns out to be Dr. Terrance Wynn (Mitchell Ryan), which is quite a startling revelation on multiple levels. The character of Wynn first briefly appeared in the original Halloween movie where he shared a classic exchange with  Dr. Loomis (Wynn: "Now, for God sakes, he can't even drive a car!"; Loomis: "He was doing very well last night! Maybe someone around here gave him lessons!"). Wynn is a psychiatrist, who, by the time the sixth film rolls around, has become the head of Smith's Grove Sanitarium. Smith's Grove is the facility where Myers was housed after murdering his sister as a child until some 15 years later when he escapes, thus setting the plot line of the first Halloween movie in motion. The name of the sanitarium, Smith's Grove, is especially apt as sacred groves were hugely important in various branches of ancient European paganism.
"From an examination of the Teutonic word for 'temple' Grimm has made it probable that amongst the Germans the oldest sanctuaries were natural woods. However this may be, tree-worship is well attested for all the great European families of the Aryan stock. Amongst the Celts the oak-worship of the Druids is familiar to everyone, and their old word for a sanctuary seems to be identical in origin and meaning with the Latin nemus, a grove or woodland glade, which still survives in the name of Nemi. Sacred groves were common among the ancient Germans, and tree-worship is hardly extinct amongst their descendants at the present day...
"Proofs of the prevalence of tree-worship in ancient Greece and Italy are abundant. In the sanctuary of Aesculapius at Cos, for example, it was forbidden to cut down the cypress-trees under a penalty of a thousand drachms. But nowhere, perhaps, in the ancient world was this antique form of religion better preserved than in the heart of the great metropolis itself. In the Forum, the busy centre of Roman life, the sacred fig-tree of Romulus was worshipped down to the days of the empire, and the withering of its trunk was enough to spread consternation through the city. Again, on the slope of the Palatine Hill grew a cornel-tree which was esteemed one of the most sacred objects in Rome. Whenever the tree appeared to a passerby to be drooping, he set up a hue and cry which was echoed by the people in the street, and soon a crowd might be seen running helter-skelter from all sides with buckets of water, as if (says Plutarch) they were hastening to put out a fire."
(The Golden Bough, James Frazer, pgs. 82-83) 

Halloween 6 reveals that Wynn is both the head of a cult primarily comprised of staff members from Smith's Grove Sanitarium as well as residents of the fictional town of Haddonfield, Illinois, where virtually the entire Halloween franchise takes place. Undoubtedly the eyebrows of veteran conspiracy researchers will be raised as several leading psychiatrists, most notably Dr. Ewen Cameron, have been closely linked to the US intelligence community's various ventures into the world of mind control.
"... the psychiatrist [Cameron -Recluse] soon became the architect of the CIA's notorious MontrĂ©al-based mine-control project at the Mount Royal clinic in the late 1950s and early 1960s, a project whose goal was discover a means of countering the effects of Russian and Chinese brainwashing and to develop an American version for use as an offensive weapon. The experiments were nearly the equal of anything the Nazis themselves had come up with under the aegis of the all-powerful Ahnenerbe-SS and were, indeed, based at least partly on the results of those concentration camp experiments, the records of which had been classified by American intelligence, becoming part of CIA and Pentagon files shortly after the Nuremberg Tribunals. As CIA investigator John Marks points out, the records of Ahnenerbe-SS experimenters Dr. Kurt Plotner and Walter Neff regarding mescaline and hypnosis research at Dachau were sent back to the States and never revealed. Thus, the files of Nazi brainwashing, interrogation, and mind control experiments using drugs, hypnosis and torture -- techniques associated today with the worst of America's religious cults and secret societies -- are still classified if indeed they survived at all the famous shredding of MK/ULTRA documents ordered by Richard Helms in the 1970s."
(Unholy Alliance, Peter Levenda, pgs. 273-274)

Cameron performed his experiments in an asylum, as did numerous other psychiatrists working in tandem with the CIA. The military and prison system also provided test subjects. Later researchers such as David McGowan, noting that many serial killers have a background in at least one of the three above-mentioned institutions, have speculated that some of the high profile ones may have been "programmed" by psychiatrists working at these facilities.

The origins of these "techniques" in Nazi Germany is also compelling in relation to Halloween 6, specifically the use of the rune of thorn by Wynn's cult as its symbol. The thorn rune was apparently highly important in the system of Karl Maria Wiligut, who would play a key role in developing the rituals of the SS as well as their concept of runes.
"The clearest, most authentic and perhaps most meaningful part of the Wiligut-tradition which has survived to us intact is his 'Runic key.' This key, which is indeed a different model for one used by Guido von List, is expounded in his contributions to Hagal and appears to be the part of his teaching which most deeply affected students. When Mund interviewed Richard Anders decades after Wiligut's death, Anders simply stated 'This is everything I learned from Wiligut' and gave the following equation:..."
(The Secret King, pg. 62, Stephen E. Flowers & Michael Moynihan)

Unfortunately I was not able to find an image of this equation but it is essentially the algiz rune (which stood for man exoterically in Wiligut's system) plus the thorn rune equaling a combination of the two runes with the triangular shape of the thorn rune appearing on the side of the algiz rune. Esoterically the algiz rune stood for spirit while the thorn rune represented matter. Thus, a combination of the two runes represented spirit crucified in matter.

the algiz (top) and thorn (bottom) runes

For these reasons it is quite striking that the head of the thorn cult is also the head psychiatrist of the sanitarium in which Michael Myers spent much of his youth. According to Halloween 6 screenwriter Daniel Farrands this was but one aspect of the more elaborate mythology he had originally planned for this particular Halloween film and potential sequels. In an interview with the website Fright he states:
"My idea was always to end the movie with this incredible battle for Michael Myers' soul between the good doctor and the evil doctor and that was really what it was building to in the script. I had written the part of Dr. Wynn with the idea of casting a serious equal for Donald. I never thought anyone would get the reference to the original...  But I think it's great that the die-hard fans knew right away that it was supposed to be the same Doctor Wynn from the original movie. And I went back to that line where he says to Donald Pleasence, 'He didn't know how to drive a car.' And Loomis says, 'Maybe someone around here gave him lessons.' And I thought, let's literally go with that. Wynn (and his staff) really did give him lessons! (laughs) And there was even a reference to that line in the finale of my original script where Wynn is sort of explaining to Loomis what's basically been going on under his nose all these years. And he says, 'We even taught him how to drive a car.' I never imagined this secret society to be anything like the Temple Of Doom version they shot. (laughs) I imagined it to be much more relatable, like the Satanists in 'Rosemary's Baby'. The scary part of it is they could be the nurse, the guy working at the bus station, or the old lady across the street. And I thought that was a very scary idea."
Daniel Farrands

As it stands, the end of Halloween 6 is both rather conventional and confusing. After the film scored poorly with test audiences frantic re-shoots were ordered with little time and even less money. What's more, star Donald Pleasance had recently passed away.

Essentially the film ends with an extended chase through Smith's Grove Sanitarium after Michael turns on the thorn cult for no apparent reason, dispatching of Wynn in the process. Tommy appears to fatally smote Michael by bashing his head in with a fire extinguisher. Afterwards Tommy, Kara, her son Danny, and Jamie's baby pack into a car outside the sanitarium and ask Loomis to flee with them. The good doctor informs them that he has unfinished business with Michael and proceeds to head back into the hospital. The film ends with a shot of Michael's abandoned mask, stained with green blood, while Loomis screams in the background against the sound of a slashing kitchen knife.


The original ending, now available only on the so-called "Producer's Cut" version, involved some kind of bizarre occult ritual in which Loomis effectively became Michael's handler. In a conversation with Farrands noted:
"Finally they went with the 'power of the runes' ending (which I jokingly refer to as 'Tommy’s magic acorns'), the version that wound up in the Producer’s Cut. Personally, I thought the whole thing was (and looked) rather silly – especially considering that they didn’t even spring for a special effect (how about a ring of white light that consumed Conal Cochran in H3?). I didn’t mind having Loomis take on the 'curse' … the implication that he would now become Michael’s protector rather than his destroyer was a great twist and, had Donald lived a while longer, I think that idea would have made a really interesting chapter in the series." 
Unfortunately Recluse has not seen the Producer's Cut so he cannot comment on this particular sequence. And without being able to comment on the Producer's Cut I shall be wrapping things up. As we have seen throughout the first two installments of the series, Halloween 6 possesses an incredible series of synchronicities that echo Nazi occultism; various Men in Black mythos; the CIA's experiments with brainwashing, mind control, and "enhanced interrogation techniques"; and those long-standing rumors of an underground cult network that has had involvement with several of the nation's most notorious serial killers. Many of the same synchs appear in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, which I shall finally address in the next installment of this series. Stay tuned.


  1. I mean no disrepect, and stand by my initial comments as to the the regard I hold your articles in. But, I would like to know why you deleted my comment in regard to the above topic. I wish to know this because I would like to frequent the site, and contribute comments, but want to make sure that those comments will be in compliance with whatever standards you have for this sort of thing. If you be so kind as to email an answer at

  2. Severin!-

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