In honor of Masquerade Week and the impending Hallows’ Eve, we’re kicking off a new segment called, “Jenny Y’know I Don’t See How That’s Going to Work But I Trust You,” in which I (Jenny) open your mind to a whole new world of meaning that can only be found in the back-to-back movie viewing experience that is the Double Feature.
I’ve curated this double feature for you based on the metaphorical power of masks as tools which tap into the collective human spirit through either the loss or adoption of identity. It’s actually way deep.
Eyes Wide Shut
Eyes Wide Shut is the seminal (ha) Kubrick masked orgy movie. Basically, it’s just philandering Tom Cruise plus secret societies equals dead sex workers. It clearly fits this week’s masquerade theme (masks make anonymous sex even more anonymous, obvs), but it is technically a Christmas movie. Still, one could argue that, because Halloween is about scary things, Eyes Wide Shut is totally relevant (because what could be scarier than outdated gender roles and patriarchal murder societies?).
Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge
The plot of Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge rests on the classic Halloween trope of being transformed, literally and by evil magics, into the character/monster you have chosen to portray (a la S2.E6 of Buffy or part 3 of Treehouse of Horror XVI or that one episode of Darkwing Duck — it’s relatively common, really).
In the case of Halloweentown II, Kalabar is taking Revenge on ignorant humans, who mock monsters every year, by forcing them to experience life as a monster. But that transformation really guides the symbolic power of the mask away from anonymity (as in Eyes Wide Shut) and more into the inhabitation of a monstrous role. Seeing as Halloween monsters are, arguably, overblown manifestations of the darkest and most basic fears of the collective human consciousness, this monstrousness functions as a manifestation of human baseness — of humanity’s capacity for evil — in just the way that leads to the potentiality of patriarchal murder societies.
The power of the mask (be it masquerade or monster) lies in the dismissal of the individual self — it lies in the acceptance of either blank anonymity or blameless carnality. Where the masquerade mask functions to wipe clean the slate of identity, the monster mask wholeheartedly accepts the very worst that humanity can be and revels in it. It is in that scummy and villainous reveling, built upon the lowest and most animal of human proclivities, that a certain anonymity is found — the anonymity which comes with knowing that everyone else shares just this same capacity for wretchedness. I mean, if the Youtube comments section has taught me anything, it’s that anonymity can drive people straight into the darkest depths of human evil.
But also (mostly), I just don’t want anyone to forget that the Halloweentown series totally happened. Those movies exist and you should deffo re-watch them.