Synopsis: Six years after he was presumed killed, crazed serial killer Michael Myers has returned from the dead. During his absence, Michael’s niece Jamie Lloyd gave birth to his son and turned the baby over to Tommy Doyle to save the child from his maniacal father. But Tommy suspects that the evil force that drove Michael to murder now curses his young son, Danny Strode.
eyelights: the more coherent plot. the additional Dr. Loomis scenes. the improved pace. its improved soundtrack.
eyesores: the many non-sequiturs. the wooden performances. the supernatural/cult of Thorn elements
“I can’t go through this again, not alone. Please, as my colleague, as my friend. Help me”
To say that ‘Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers‘ was a troubled production is an understatement. Substantially recut at the studio’s request, after 30-40 minutes of new footage was shot in a last-minute effort to save it, the picture ended up being dramatically different than it was originally intended to be – to such a degree that much of its cast and crew turned their backs on it.
For years, a “Producer’s Cut” (as opposed to the studio’s Theatrical Cut) had been the holy grail of the series’ fans who, after a bootleg copy was leaked, traded it illegally. It was always said that this was by far the better version of the film. However, although it was eventually screened for fans in 2013 at a convention, it was never made officially available for home viewing.
A year ago, the ‘Halloween’ series was re-released on blu-ray as a 10-disc “Complete” collection and also as a 15-disc limited edition set. The latter included the Producer’s Cut, along with a few other exclusives. Truth be told, even though I had disliked the Theatrical Cut, and have mixed feelings about the series as a whole, this was impetus enough for me to buy this boxed set.
Call me a completist. Call me an idiot. Whatev.
I was rather eager to watch the set’s alternate versions, like the Television versions of ‘Halloween‘ (had it already!) and ‘Halloween II‘ (didn’t know existed!) as well as the Producer’s Cut (finally!), so I barreled through the series in very little time – including the Theatrical Cut of ‘The Curse of Michael Myers’ (or ‘Halloween 6’), to get a proper perspective on the matter.
And you know what? It was great!
I’m not saying that they were great films (alternate cuts are frequently weaker than the final one – some exceptions noted), but it was a gas to see the series in a new way. And, defeating all odds, the Producer’s Cut of ‘Halloween 6’ is actually far superior to the Theatrical Cut. Again, it’s no masterpiece, but the Theatrical Cut is so abysmally bad that this is a massive improvement.
The differences are evident right from the start: instead of opening with a quick succession of warped images from the film and then the title, this version starts with the title – which uses a different font and embeds a “Thorn” symbol in the A of “Halloween”. The original opening was cheesy and made the picture look like a crappy straight-to-video film. So this is good.
Another notable difference that we immediately notice is that the opening narration is not by Tommy (played by a dispassionate Paul Rudd), but by Dr. Loomis. You see, for some reason, in the Theatrical Cut, the studio decided that they wanted less of Dr. Loomis. So not only did Donald Pleasance get most of his scenes trimmed or cut, they even redubbed this intro.
This makes a significant difference to the picture. For starters, Loomis is a connecting thread in the series. Aside for the unrelated ‘Halloween III‘, he’s in all of the original films up to that point. Secondly, this is probably Pleasance’s best performance of the series; I’ve always found his Loomis a bit ranty, borderline unhinged. Here he affects a certain grace and wisdom. Nice.
As well, his presence affect the pace of the picture; with greater footage comes a longer runtime. And here it actually helps the tone. This version of the picture takes more of its time with exposition, which is always a plus – you need that for the characters to feel three-dimensional, so that you care about them a little bit, so that the tension is real when danger rears.
Another character that’s played out differently here is Jamie. The studio refused to pay Danielle Harris to return for a third time, and it was extremely confusing in the Theatrical Cut because we had no idea who this new person was – there was little to explain that she was supposed to be the same Jamie. Way to ruin the beginning of a picture! Here at least there’s a flashback.
But there’s more. Not only do they explain how Jamie disappeared for many years, they also change her fate: In the Theatrical Cut, they had her get gruesomely murdered by Michael in a barn. However, in the Producer’s Cut, she clings to life long enough for Loomis to be on the scene. She only dies later. This is not a significant change, but it felt far less exploitative.
In fact, most of the violence is more to the point, which is a good thing. I love clever death scenes as much as the next person but I hate when it’s contrived. Not that I’m saying that the deaths were especially clever in the original; they were a bit craftier and certainly gorier (for instance, Michael would pull the head off instead of snapping someone’s neck), but who cares?
Michael is also played out differently in this version: He lurks about a lot more, something that is more in character (as established in the original film). My only problem is that he seems to go for a lot of walks in broad daylight, which lead me to wonder why the heck no one noticed him. And, given that ‘Curse’ returns to Haddonfield, you’d think that the sight of him would raise alarms.
One thing that’s a dramatic change here is that Danny is set up as a future psycho, perhaps even Michael’s understudy, as he’s mentally connected to him and/or the “man in black” and getting creepy messages from them. This explains some of his erratic behaviour from the Theatrical Cut, but it’s a strange decision considering the U-turn the producers did with Jamie in ‘Halloween 5‘.
But the most notable change of all is the entire ending, which was reshot wholesale. I don’t want to go into details, because it require a full dissection of the ending to pick apart all the differences. But there is one website that does exactly that, so you can get all the answers there: http://www.movie-censorship.com/report.php?ID=1392. Say what you will, but it makes more sense now.
Even the music is vastly superior; Alan Howarth had been asked to redo the score and there’s a significantly smaller number of cheap jump scares in this version. Thank goodness for that. And, I don’t know if it’s just the mix on the blu-ray, or simply that I didn’t notice on Theatrical Cut, but this one had a really bass-heavy atmospheric piece during a few scenes. Its rumbles were pure delight.
Oh, granted, lots of bits don’t hold up in the Producer’s Cut of ‘Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers’, but the same could be said of the Theatrical Cut. At least this one is a drastic improvement; it’s relatively coherent. Sure, it’s no grand masterpiece, and it’s hardly the best of the series, but it’s no longer the worst either. I don’t know what the studio was thinking: they really !@#$-ed up.
If you’re going to see ‘Halloween 6’, if you really must, get the Producer’s Cut. Period.
Date of viewing: August 19, 2015