Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers

Can you believe in HALLOWEEN 6 that Michael Myers is back in Haddonfield and still trying to kill all his relatives? Sure, you thought little Jamie Lloyd was the last of the Myers line in HALLOWEEN 4 and 5, but director Joe Chappelle (PHANTOMS) and screenwriter Daniel Farrands pulls more kin out of their rear ends in this notoriously troubled sequel that made barely a peep in theaters in 1995.

The victim of devastating test screenings, last-minute reshoots, and a screenplay that evolved drastically during the shoot (for the worse, some would say, including Donald Pleasence), the sixth HALLOWEEN movie was regarded as a mess by audiences (including me) who saw Dimension’s theatrical release. A few years later, the so-called Producer’s Cut started making the rounds among collectors and horror fans. This is most likely the version that was ripped heavily during the early test screenings. Could it have possibly been worse than what finally played in theaters after all the post-production tinkering?

Well, it has more Donald Pleasence, which is good. It has less gore, but also more scenes that fill out the characters and explain the plot better. The problem is the plot is so stupid and the formula so worn out that it appears little could have been done to make HALLOWEEN 6 palatable.

It also keeps the original ending that test audiences hated so much, which involved Michael being infected with an ancient Druid curse that caused him to murder his family members whenever a certain constellation called Thorn appeared in the sky. By killing his entire bloodline, he would prevent the total destruction of his tribe. Or something like that. The Producer’s Cut ending—or non-ending, as it were—is silly, confusing, and anti-climactic with mumbo-jumbo about sacrificial rituals and magic runestones that may leave you howling with laughter.

The reshoots, which did not involve Pleasence, who died in early 1995, basically said all the Druid stuff was nonsense to cover up the real conspiracy at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, which involved DNA experiments, cloning, and a plot to rule the world or some such. The theatrical cut will also likely have you cracking up.

It’s six years after HALLOWEEN 5, which left the world believing Michael and his niece Jamie were killed in an explosion at the Haddonfield police station. In fact, both were rescued by the Man in Black, who has since held Jamie (now played by J.C. Brandy after the Weinsteins wouldn’t pony up Danielle Harris’ fee) in captivity and made her pregnant. Her son is born the night before Halloween, and she manages to escape with her baby.

Michael catches her and leaves her for dead. He doesn’t find the infant, who falls into the hands of Tommy Doyle (Paul Rudd, who gets a special “Introducing” credit even though he had already appeared in CLUELESS), the little boy Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, who doesn’t appear here) was babysitting when Michael went on his original killing spree seventeen years earlier. Michael, with the retired Dr. Loomis (75-year-old Pleasence) on his trail, returns to Haddonfield to not only murder Jamie’s baby, but also the new family living in the Myers house.

Veterans Kim Darby (TRUE GRIT) and Mitchell Ryan (MAGNUM FORCE) appear, as does Susan Swift, the young actress from AUDREY ROSE. Alan Howarth again composed the score, and Chappelle returned to Salt Lake City, where 4 and 5 were shot, for this sequel, though with so many interiors, it could have been filmed almost anywhere. HALLOWEEN 6 left the series so hopelessly screwed up that when HALLOWEEN H20 relaunched it on its twentieth anniversary, it brought back Jamie Lee Curtis as the now-alive Laurie Strode and ignored everything that had happened after HALLOWEEN II.

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