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Muhammad inspired Michael Myers?

October 31, 2010
Michael Myers peers over the balcony

Michael Myers in "Halloween"

The Prophet Mohammed in a Mosque

Muhammad in a mosque

 

One of the greatest horror films ever made was “Halloween,” which was produced by Syrian-born Moustapha Akkad in 1978.  The film was so thrilling that Roger Ebert proclaimed “I would compare it to Psycho.”

Apart from producing the Halloween series, Akkad is perhaps most famous for directing “The Message”—the sword and sand “epic” glorifying the life and conquests of Muhammad.  “The Message” was released just two years prior to “Halloween.”  It seems a rather dramatic change in focus—does it not?—to be making a religious biography one year and a gory slasher flick shortly thereafter?  But there is more continuity between the two movies than meets the eye.

First person camera

There are a few famous films in history, such as “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” that have used the viewpoint of the camera to simulate the viewpoint of a character in the movie.  Two of the other best known films to employ that technique are—you guessed it—“The Message” and “Halloween.”

More often than not, arch-villain Michael Myers is depicted either by the camera or in the shadows, at a distance, and only in a mask.  Like our beloved Prophet, you never see his face.  The production of “The Message” was interrupted, protested, and boycotted on many occasions over rumors that an actor would portray Muhammad on screen.  If Moustapha Akkad ever desired to show the face of Muhammad, the death threats convinced him otherwise.  Akkad decided to use first-person camera and only portrayed Muhammad’s more distant relatives and companions to avoid the controversy of showing Muhammad’s inner circle.

Audiences of “The Message” found the depiction of Muhammad to be creepy, a point not lost on later reviewers.  From the Black Table:

Mohammed never appears in “The Message,” but he’s presented in the first-person in a tactic worthy of the most laughable B-movies. When necessary, Akkad uses the camera to represent what the Prophet sees. He goes places, people talk to him, and, oddly enough, he does things. Like a recurring slasher-cam or brain-jacked Malkovich, you are strapped into a cranial shotgun seat to see Mohammed’s life and times unfold. He gives plenty of commands, but you never hear his voice, whipping the screenplay and supporting characters into a frenzy of clumsy explication.

Maybe the accusation of creepiness stayed in Moustapha Akkad’s mind.  What is more unsettling than a character who you never see, who is difficult if not impossible to relate to, whose every action affects the lives and survival of everybody else on screen who you can relate to?  Like the successful formula in “Jaws,” the ominous threat remains just off camera until it’s too late.

Puritanical streak

His teenage sister had deflowered herself with her jock boyfriend in front of tenderfoot Michael Myers’s own eyes.  Fans speculated that Michael Myers was exacting revenge for teenage licentiousness, a theory also put forth by “Scream” character Randy Meeks as a basic tenet of the horror genre.

Do we not see a similar pattern of behavior in “The Message” and among some males in the Muslim world today?  If Michael Myers ever went to trial and knew what was good for him, he’d claim that his murders were honor killings to win the judge’s sympathy.

Both Myers and Muhammad in “The Message” appear to be motivated by a zealous desire to mete out justice against a wicked world.

Thirst for blood

Muhammad was known for beheading enemy infidels, a technique still mimicked among his followers today.  There’s something ominous about a blade, but Michael Myers didn’t have to kill his victims with knives.

In the famous horror movies of the 1930s, innocents died at the hands of Frankenstein, the fangs of Count Dracula, and the paws of the werewolf.  The murdered women in 1968’s “The Boston Strangler” were choked to death.  “Day of the Jackal” (1973) featured a merciless sniper.  We take it as a given now, but there was no requirement or expectation in the 1970s for a horror or stalker flick to have a knife-wielding executioner.

Follow the money

This is Money Jihad, right?  In the 1970s, Moustapha Akkad ran out of cash to finish “The Message.”  The Saudi royal family, which had initially pledged $60 million in support, backed out of the project.  Akkad, whose views on Jewish management of Hollywood studios caused him to seek funding elsewhere, got the backing of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

Qaddafi also funded Akkad’s next Islamic film, “Lion of the Desert.”  While “Lion of the Desert” was produced after “Halloween,” an official “Halloween” franchise website says that Akkad had $300,000 left over from his Qaddafi projects.  At the same time Akkad’s associate and independent film producer Irwin Yablans was looking for somebody to back a horror film about a series of babysitter murders to be directed by up-and-coming director John Carpenter.  Somehow Muammar Qaddafi didn’t receive a production credit, but the film might not exist today without the largesse of the Libyan dictator.

Conclusion

Did John Carpenter set out to satirize Muhammad under his own producer’s nose with a hidden faced, blood lustful, misogynist Myers?  It would be impossible to believe that Carpenter didn’t watch the only movie his boss producer had made prior to Halloween.  Or was Moustapha himself trying to convey something about the West in the film?  Or are the Islamist funding sources and personality traits of the films’ stars just coincidences cleverly exposed by a bored blogger?  Rent both movies tonight and make the call for yourself.

Happy Halloween, dear readers.

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2 comments

  1. You are too creative.


    • Perhaps, but I still find the first-person camera similarity uncanny!



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