Saturday, October 20, 2018

Sherlock Holmes versus Michael Myers

Once serial killers became a thing, I remember some movie promoting something like "Sherlock Holmes faces a new kind of killer!" as their tagline to lure viewers in. For some reason, once the term "serial killer" came into popular use, it was like a generation thought they had invited the concept, when multiple-murderers have been around as long as humans, and even before. Predators exist. We even keep one as a pet.

Given the perfectly timing of their active years, pitting Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper against each other was a natural story for people to try telling. And there was a sense to it, as the Ripper was a mystery that was never solved, a criminal who was never identified. And solving a mystery is what Sherlock Holmes does best.

Just facing serial killers, though?

Having just watched the latest incarnation of the movie Halloween this morning, it is amazingly clear how little a true serial killer and Sherlock Holmes have anything to do with each other. Michael Myers, the mask-wearing mass murderer of the Halloween movies, has no mystery about him, unless it's his face or his thoughts. He's just a guy who kills people. Nothing to be solved, just a predator to be stopped.

Pitting Sherlock Holmes against a Michael Myers is the equivalent of having him solve a rampaging man-killer of a tiger . . . nothing in it that really puts him above a trained hunter. Oh, you can adapt Holmes's skills a bit, play up the fighting and weapons skills, etc., but a good Sherlock Holmes story is harder to tell with a known killing machine. Scotland Yard can handle those fellows with the head-on approach they need.

A goodly share of Sherlock Holmes's best cases do not involve murder at all. And do any of Michael Myer's crimes not involve murder? (Well, he does steal the occasion butcher knife or trespass, commit breaking and entering, assault, etc., but those are all en route to the murders.) And consider this: Even Professor Moriarty would have nothing to do with the crude criminal style of a Michael Myers. The Professor would probably just stand back and let the usual societal forces do their job.

All in all, if you're looking to recruit a villain to go up against Sherlock Holmes, you'll always do better to recruit some cad who is not just about killing for killing's sake. We already have Jamie Lee Curtis to take down those guys, or Ashley Judd, or well, any of those heroines or heroes who is not in a story where the serial killer is actually the lead.

Heck, even Jack the Ripper versus Michael Myers would be a better story than anything involving Sherlock Holmes . . . and it would free Holmes up to do something a bit more intellectual.

Which is right where he belongs.

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