Although I’ve seen some of the “Halloween” films, I haven’t seen them recently enough to remember them. So this watch/rewatch of the saga marks my first time thinking about them as a movie reviewer. Armed with categories suggested by “Halloween” superfan Michael (Olinger, not Myers), here’s my review of the sixth entry, “Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers” (1995, 2014).
The Producer’s Cut, which was officially released on disc in 2014, is a solid film that gives answers to how and why Michael Myers (George P. Wilbur) is the way he is, and it’s a tidy conclusion to what I call the “Jamie trilogy.” It’s extremely disappointing that Danielle Harris isn’t back as Jamie – new actress J.C. Brandy is passable, but simply isn’t Harris. While Loomis (Donald Pleasence) and Tommy (Paul Rudd) provide connective tissue for the saga, there is still a hollowness to this entry that comes from the discarding of Harris’ Jamie.
The theatrical cut is garbage. The first two acts are OK – and roughly the same as the Producer’s Cut except that the edits make it hard to follow the details – but the final act is simply Michael slaughtering everyone in the sanitarium and Tommy inexplicably beating Michael with a pipe. People throw around the phrase “What did I just watch?,” but it certainly applies by the end of the theatrical cut, which discards plot and characterization and doesn’t even succeed at being a fun gore-fest.
Rudd gives an early taste of his sweet-guy charms as Tommy, the now-adult version of the boy whom Laurie babysat in the first movie. He has grown into an “X-Files”-style conspiracy theorist who lives in an apartment across the street from the Myers house and (correctly) believes a cult gave Michael his powers.
I admire the staging of this particular scene: Kara Strode (Marianne Hagan), Laurie’s cousin for those keeping score, is talking to Beth (Mariah O’Brien) on the phone while simultaneously watching her via a zoomed-in camera lens from Tommy’s apartment. Kara sees The Shape sneaking up on Beth and frantically tries to warn her.
In the theatrical cut, Michael skewers Jamie with a hay baler, then turns the machine on, leaving her violently and unambiguously dead. There’s no emotion to it, since I never thought of this Jamie as really being Jamie, and therefore can appreciate the gore artistry in the abstract.
Again in the theatrical cut, Michael skewers John Strode (Bradford English), Laurie’s uncle for those keeping score, on an electrical panel, with the punchline being that his head explodes. Since John is a complete P.O.S. in both versions – he disowns Kara because she had a kid out of wedlock – I have no problem laughing at his demise.
THAT SEEMS FAMILIAR
“Halloween 6” tiptoes into the era of “horror as broad social commentary” as radio shock-jock Barry Simms (Leo Geter), who is 20 percent Art Bell but 80 percent Morton Downey Jr., aims to get ratings by visiting Haddonfield, where Michael Myers once roamed. Simms shows little interest in Beth’s push to reclaim Halloween in a town so terrified that local government “banned” the holiday after the “Halloween 5” events. The “Scream” saga, which launched one year later, would feature a running theme of TV news, books and movies cashing in on the serial killer’s predations.
THAT DOESN’T AGE WELL
In crafting the final act into a bloodbath that discards the plot, the makers of the theatrical cut apparently didn’t have time to make it into a worthwhile gore-fest. So we get horrible strobe effects, knife swings and spattering blood at the expense of the character arcs and hints about Michael’s powers that were at least vaguely present in the first hour.
MOST SURPRISING ELEMENT
In addition to being disappointing, it’s also surprising that Harris isn’t back in the Jamie role, since she is active at “Halloween” conventions and open to talking about her time on the saga. The explanation is a money dispute, paired with the screenwriters’ belief that Harris and Jamie weren’t important for the sake of a good movie. Even in the Producer’s Cut, Jamie is a mere plot device, and indeed, the character doesn’t get a full-fledged arc even though she’s the linking element of movies 4-6.
HOW OVER-THE-TOP IS DONALD PLEASENCE?
When he’s describing Michael to Debra Strode (Kim Darby), Laurie’s aunt for those keeping score, Dr. Loomis is unnecessarily passionate considering that Debra is mostly on board with what he’s saying. And at the end of the Producer’s Cut, the mark of Thorn is passed on to Loomis. He screams in fury like it’s the worst thing ever, but in fact this power gives him a much better chance of stopping Michael; he should be happy to have it.
It appears to be the same as in “Halloween 5,” but more gray than white. This film focuses on the mask more than previous entries, and it’s ready for its close-up.
NEW REVELATIONS ABOUT MICHAEL
Building on the “Samhain” blackboard scrawl awkwardly dropped into “Halloween II,” “Halloween 6” gives us the “why” and “how” of Michael’s evil. The sanitarium is secretly governed by a cult called Thorn – led by Wynn (Mitchell Ryan), the steel-toed-booted stranger from “Halloween 5” — that seeks to control and take advantage of Pure Evil, as manifested by Michael. Wynn, as Thorn’s elder, can project his voice to tell vulnerable little kids to kill – this is what happened to Michael in the first film, and they’re trying it again on Danny Strode (Devin Gardner) here. My interpretation is that Michael wasn’t completely innocent, but that Thorn jumped on the 6-year-old’s tendency toward sociopathy and turned him into a monster from that point forward.
We also learn that Jamie’s baby, Steven, was fathered by Michael (under the control of Thorn), giving the “Halloween” saga that dash of incest found in a remarkable number of classic horror sagas.
“Halloween 6” goes back to the original design of the Myers house, with John and Debra Strode – perhaps using the savings from acquiring this murder house on the cheap — having done a nice job fixing it up. They have added a little balcony at the top, between the two bedroom windows. This requires that the alternate Myers house design from “Halloween 5” be forgotten. (Or was that even the Myers house? Maybe I misunderstood.)
Someone who watches only the theatrical cut will feel like several plot threads are forgotten, but the Producer’s Cut rectifies that. For example, Wynn is the steel-booted stranger from “Halloween 5,” which is clear in the Producer’s Cut but not in the theatrical cut.
In both cuts, the screenwriters forget that Jamie has adoptive parents. Her adoptive sister Rachel dies in “Halloween 5,” but her parents are still alive, as far as we know – just not present.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT?
If this thread had continued – which it couldn’t, since Pleasence died soon after “Halloween 6’s” completion — it might’ve been neat to see the process of humanizing Michael, who we now know was (primarily) created by dark magic. Still, I can’t say I’m crushed that this thread ends here; at least it reaches a good stopping point. Also, it never sat right with me that Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie dies off-screen before “Halloween 4”; in horror films, it’s hard to believe a major character is dead unless you see a corpse (and even then …). I know Laurie returns in the seventh entry, and I look forward to seeing how the writers explain that.
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