Synopsis: For pulse-pounding suspense and relentless thrills, nothing can match Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers – one of the most frightening chapters in the chilling Halloween series! In a single horrifying night, Michael Myers’ masked reign of terror changed Halloween forever! Now, six years after he was presumed dead in a fire, Myers has returned to kill again – and this time there’s no escape! As the homicidal fury builds to a spine-tingling climax, the long-hidden secrets of the screen’s most maniacal murderer are revealed…with shocking results! Starring a thrilling cast including legendary Donald Pleasence (Halloween, The Advocate) and Paul Rudd (The Cider House Rules, Clueless).
eyelights: its attempt to bring up a number of franchise characters and elements together.
eyesores: its failure to bring franchise elements together coherently. the weak script. the lack of scares. the many non-actors. the score.
“I knew what he was, but I never knew why.”
‘Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers’ (or ‘Halloween 6’, as we’ll hereforth call it) is what we would call a troubled production. Delayed by many years due to some legal issues, it suffered some budgetary, casting, script and editing issues that shaped a final product which many of its cast and crew have since disavowed.
Released in 1996, six years after its predecessor, ‘Halloween 6’ attempts to revisit the same main characters and explore the mythology of Michael Myers even further – in particular his origin and the depth of the influence the cult of Thorn have on his activities. It also returns to Haddonfield. On Hallowe’en night.
The problems with this movie can barely be enumerated, but it can be encapsulated: ‘Halloween 6’ is devoid of the vision, the style, the class, the technique, the writing, the performances, the music, the pace and even the mood that made ‘Halloween‘ the landmark film and cult classic that it has become.
Right from the start, fans of the series know that something’s wrong: in a series of flash cuts, we are treated to a nonsensical nightmare sequence, before the titles even appear – devoid of the iconic theme and credit sequence. Then we’re in a hospital, watching a delivery taking place in truly unsanitary conditions.
The first impression the film gives is of “straight-to-video” fare – and possibly shot on video, for that matter. It looks cheap, like none of its predecessors did. It also sounds cheap, something that’s not helped by the absence of most of the main themes. And when it doesn’t, the themes are simply not used correctly.
This would be a recurring problem throughout, and while one might want to blame Alan Howarth, it is said that even the score was re-recorded after the film was substantially reshot. So perhaps Howarth was not responsible for the gutting of the original score and the cheap scares it tried to provoke.
In any event, the opening finds Jamie (who, in an unfathomable casting decision, is not only not played by Danielle Harris but looks much older than she should!) giving birth in the presence of the cult of Thorn – who take her child away and perform a ritual that revolves around painting their rune in blood on its chest.
Jamie escapes from the hospital/industrial compound (!) with the help of someone trying and failing to play a nurse, but the cult unleash Michael to track her down. Meanwhile, to help us understand WTF is going on, since all is so unrelated to the previous films, a bored narrator explains the backstory.
This does not bode well.
Soon thereafter comes a lame late-night cat-and-mouse game in a deserted bus terminal, one of the worst car chases in history (a 10-second reel that came out of nowhere and abruptly ended) and then the gruesome death of a primary character – by which point we can’t even be bothered to care one bit.
Back in Haddonfield, we find out that the Myers’ house is now inhabited by Mr. Strode’s brother; Strode, a realtor, is unable to sell the house so he’s letting his brother’s family live there. For some reason, the Strodes own the house. I don’t know why, but there it is. And there is a whole new family.
Across the street, Tommy (whom Laurie babysat in the original movie, but who is now played by Paul Rudd) has rented a room in their neighbour’s house and is spying on them, waiting for Michael to return. Obsessed, he recorded a radio talk show about Myers and pin-pointed a call that Jamie made on the show.
So off he goes to the bus terminal, only to find her baby hidden in the bathroom, crying. Why no one heard the baby in the twelve hours since she left it there is beyond reason. But there you have it. So he brings it to the hospital and -lo and behold- he bumps into Dr. Loomis there. What an unbelievable stroke of luck!
Yes, unbelievable. Like most of the movie.
Naturally, Michael will come after the baby, the last blood relation that he has, the Strode family will get caught in the crossfire, and Dr. Loomis will attempt to stop him – with the help of Tommy. If they can also dodge the shadowy cult of Thorn as well, which seem to pop up and disappear pretty randomly, that is.
Sigh… where to begin?
- The direction is horrible, with Joe Chappelle making such obvious errors as showing Michael stalking about before we even see his prey – so that we don’t know that there’s any danger (for all we know, he’s just wandering about, like he tends to do). And he had Dr. Loomis show up randomly. WTF.
- The writing is so bad that we have to endure lengthy exposition to somewhat understand what’s going on – most of which is at the hands of Tommy, who studied the connections of the Thorn symbol, pagan rituals and astronomy with Michael’s killing sprees. And it still doesn’t make sense.
- The production is nonsensical: Who sets a hospital in an industrial compound? And, for the record, if you have a scene in a maximum security ward, you shouldn’t leave it unlocked and unguarded. At least the Myers house isn’t a mansion anymore, like in ‘Halloween 5‘.
- The acting ranges from average horror fare to pretty horrible – which amounts to “barely watchable”. Even Paul Rudd stinks half the time. However, Donald Pleasance, who shouted his way through the last three films, mellowed out just enough to be one of the better ones here.
- The kills are gruesome (head torn off, gutted by drills, electrocuted until head explodes, …etc.), which is catering to the splatter crowd of the time, but which goes against the tone of the original, which was more atmospheric, less visceral. ‘Halloween 6’ lacks class.
- Its attempts at humour are hackneyed (for example, the afore-mentioned radio talk show features call-ins of people with outlandish comments and theories on what’s been going on with Michael these last few years). It’s so corny and unclever. Why even have humour at all?
The thing is, ‘Halloween 6’ comes off as a feeble attempt at making a horror film, like an afterthought of the ’80s trying to remain relevant in the ’90s. It’s a pathetic sight, especially when one considers its lineage. Granted, neither ‘Halloween 4‘ or ‘Halloween 5’ were stellar, but the first two in the series were superb.
And the original reshaped the modern horror film.
To put in perspective just how out of touch ‘Halloween 6’ is, one year later ‘Scream‘ would come out. It was an homage to the genre and referred to ‘Halloween’ extensively, managing to remain fresh in the process – something even ‘Halloween 6’ couldn’t. ‘Scream’ was the next ‘Halloween’, in fact, in that it reinvigorated the genre.
‘Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers’ was the end of an era, and it was a welcome one: Horror films were done, with Michael, Jason and Freddy all on their last legs. They had caused much carnage in their time, but they were losing blood fast. Now horror films would be more clever, grittier, more realistic, more ironic.
But it wouldn’t be the last of Michael Myers.
He’d be back. (Curses!)
Post scriptum: Over the years much blame was laid on the studio for recutting and reshooting much of ‘Halloween 6′, supposedly ruining its original intent. Up until recently, a bootleg version of the original cut, otherwise known as the “Producer’s cut”, was floating around the underground and it is the favoured version of the series’ fans. It has only recently been officially released on home video. Finally. We will explore it in full. Stay tuned.
Date of viewing: August 17, 2015