Please welcome Travis Mullins to this year’s Halloween Horrors roster. I’ve known Travis for a short time now, so I’m happy to see him joining the line-up this year.
A fellow Floridian, Travis is a contributor for Dread Central, recently making his debut for them with an interview with an original draft writer for Halloween 5 (although Travis has contributed further articles for them since this intro was originally written). Travis continues his analysis of that film with his character claim of one of the franchise’s most polarizing characters.
October 25th, 2006. As part of AMC’s ever-popular FearFest (then titled MonsterFest), the channel was airing Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. At the time, I had been an internet geek for over a year and a half and well-acquainted with the world of IMDb (I still miss those message boards). I was not a horror fan, but having known of some of Jaime Lee Curtis’s work, I was loosely aware that she had starred in a film titled Halloween. Assuming that she was featured in Halloween 5, I started to watch the film…
The first scene I was presented with featured the characters Tina (Wendy Kaplan) and Jaime (Danielle Harris). Nine-year-old Jaime is bawling her eyes out as Tina (a friend of Jaime’s older foster sister) leaves for a party. With Jaime being around my age and the fact that this scene doesn’t explicitly scream “horror”, I was intrigued. I really felt something during this scene and felt compelled enough to keep watching. I was crushed when Tina finally met her end, hoping and figuratively praying that she would survive. Little did I know that “Tina” was possibly THE most hated character in the Halloween franchise.
The first time we meet Tina, she’s peering into the window of Jaime’s clinic room: sucking the glass and making faces to the delight of the child. It’s not the most flattering introduction, but it’s certainly eye-catching (or cringe-worthy, depending on who you ask). With her uplifting demeanor, Tina instantly brings a smile it Jaime’s face… in a way Jaime’s foster sister Rachel Carruthers doesn’t… and possibly can’t, given the circumstances. And thus begins my interpretation of the “Rachel” vs. “Tina” debate.
To give a bit of background, Rachel spent the majority of her youth as an only child and, throughout the course of the last two years prior to Halloween 5, has had whirlwind experience. After the death of Jaime’s parents, the Carruthers family took the girl in as their own. Rachel, having grown up as an only child, is not a willing babysitter. Much to her initial chagrin, she is forced to cancel her plans with her boyfriend for a night of trick-or-treating with Jaime. The night takes a turn for the worse when it is revealed that Jaime comes with the baggage of having a serial killer for an uncle…. one who has returned to Haddonfield to stalk her to the end. The terrifying events of the night would culminate in the loss of Rachel’s boyfriend, as well as the stabbing of her mother by Jaime’s own hand. Ever since, Jaime has been confined to a children’s clinic with the inability to speak.
Rachel, like so many other scream queens, is a prototype of Jaime Lee Curtis’s “Laurie Strode” from the original Halloween film. The clean-cut, wholesome, somewhat prudish/possibly repressed teenage girl who endures Hell before ultimately saving her skin during the climax. Commendable enough, but Tina breaks the mold. Although she’s more of a co-lead, Tina is incomparable to the likes of many franchise scream queens/final girls. She isn’t traumatized. She isn’t reserved; even unaffected by the events surrounding her (almost to a fault, as has been pointed out). She’s wild, she’s fun. She’s a lively, vivacious girl who, in the original screenplay, had every intention of leaving Haddonfield behind to study fashion in New York (her loud and vibrant daytime attire being an indication of this deleted tidbit).
In spite of the family drama and chaos of dire proportions, Tina is around; providing both Rachel and Jaime with a bit of lighthearted support. Many have questioned Rachel’s friendship with Tina. The two are so wildly different, how could they possibly have anything in common? Perhaps it’s true opposites attract? It seems only reasonable that Rachel, in order to flee the turmoil of her own life, would want to associate herself with Tina’s more uplifting sensibilities… similar to how Rob Zombie approached “Laurie Strode” in his version of Halloween II.
After the events of Halloween 4, Rachel would’ve surely felt conflicted about her association with Jaime. Come Halloween 5, the Carruthers had already hauled ass out of town, encouraging their daughter to follow suit. In the original screenplay, Dr. Loomis even furthered this encouragement, believing that Rachel’s noticeable apprehension and holiday fears had started appearing obvious to Jaime.
Despite not quite understanding the extent of Jaime’s trauma, Tina feels for the child enough to visit her at the clinic during Rachel’s absence. And while her antics would cause frustration with fans (her repetitive “Bapada!” line comes to mind )… all around, Tina just wants to have fun and bring joy to the characters around her.
Her “heart of neon” is in the right place. And while she ultimately leaves Jaime in tears when she decides to party at the Tower Farm (one of the series’ most gut-punching scenes; a beautiful performance by Wendy Kaplan and Danielle Harris), she redeems herself by performing the ultimate sacrifice for Jaime: she faces Michael Myers head-on, giving enough time for the girl to escape at the expense of her own life. A sad but admirable end to an admirable character.
Be sure to keep an eye out for future Dread Central articles from Travis, and be sure to check out his Facebook page, Whatever Happened to Sandy Johnson?