So many movies go through issues during development, during production, and even after filming has wrapped. It's nothing new and nothing unique to the horror genre, it happens all the time. Heck, as an example, with all of us recently getting all caught up again in the anniversary hype for "Back to the Future", they'd already filmed the entire film with Eric Stoltz in the role of Marty McFly, before they recasted with Michael J. Fox (and let me just say, I can't imagine anyone else as McFly). This same type of thing has happened to an untold number of movies, but it seems to be pretty prevalent in horror. One epidemic in movies today is that films are given a concrete release date years before it's even been written or cast, or anything at all, thus begins a race against time. One thing that also happens quite a bit, as in this case, is where they filmed pretty much a complete film, had test screenings where it tested poorly, and then had to go back and make rewrites and reshoot things, oftentimes creating something that is a jumbled mess, rarely ever even resembling the original piece.
Rarely has there been a case as interesting and well known as the 6th entry into the 'Halloween' franchise, "The Curse of Michael Myers". This movie originally came out, I think when I was about 9, and even *I* knew about the production issues. It's kind of a sad story, because after years of being a diehard fan of the series, Dan Farrands was chosen to write the movie, which was his dream come true. Of course, to listen to him talk about it, he pretty much says what anyone that has written a horror sequel in the last 25 years says, "I wanted to take it back to it's roots, be more like the original, etc.". What he came up with was something bordering on a brilliant idea, greatly expanding on the mythology of The Shape/Michael Myers and creating connective tissue between everything that came before it. What happened instead, was that after negative test screenings, Miramax decide to simplify the story, went back and reshot most of the film, and added more kills and gore. While I can respect all those things, I can't help but wish to see what his final film would've been like. Now, for years, "The Producer's Cut" of this movie was widely bootlegged, and I even ordered a pretty high quality copy on eBay probably 10 years ago. This was the only way to see some of that footage that was originally filmed and the best way to get an idea of what the movie was supposed to be. Thankfully, last year we were given the super excellent ultimate "Halloween" Blu-Ray collection, which included every film in the series, including the first ever official release of this producer's cut of the film. And while this movie isn't going to blow your socks off, for true, blue fans of the series, it gives us a taste of "what could have been..."
Obviously, by the time you get to part 6 in a horror franchise, you gotta change up the formula a bit. What I really do appreciate in this movie is that they really tried to continue the threads from Parts 4 and 5, which I think are highly underrated. At the end of Part 5, we seen a mystery figure breaking a captured Michael Myers out of jail, and his niece, Jaime, seeing the carnage and seeing that her murderous uncl
e has escaped. Now, as a kid, that ending always fascinated me. Starting with the original, then 2, then 4 and now 5, we had a continual storyline where Michael pretty much just goes after his bloodline. So with that basic premise, I always thought to myself as a kid, "who and why in the heck is that shadowy guy busting Michael Myers out of jail with grenades and machine guns???". It was always just so mysterious and out of left field to me, and left me intrigued. Come to find out, the writers of that film didn't know who or why he was either. That ending was apparently thrown in at the last minute, I guess in the hopes of giving them an out for another sequel. This movie explains pretty much everything you want to know about who that guy is, why he freed Michael, what happened to Michael, and really *WHO* and *WHAT* The Shape is. While it gets somewhat convoluted, it's still an interesting take on things and what amounts to a true fan's expansion on the universe.
The movie starts with Jaime, Michael's niece, about 6 years after the events of Part 5, and she's being wheeled in on a hospital bed, fixing to give birth. Immediately, we kind of start to wonder exactly what the film is going for. We see apparently cult members in druid robes, and that part, while I think sounded good on paper, was executed terribly. I've honestly seen better looking Halloween costumes in Walmart. We see the Man in Black from the end of Part 5, and he takes the baby. A sympathetic nurse actually takes the baby back, gives him to Jaime, and tries to help them escape. Naturally, Michael will have none of that. From the get go, I will tell you to watch this while listening to the commentary with the writer. He pretty much tells you scene for scene what is on the screen versus what was *supposed* to be on screen. Jamie escapes with the baby, and calls into a radio show where she warns the people of Haddonfield that Myers is back. Listening to this radio show are two very important people: the wonderful Dr. Loomis, played by Donald Pleasence, for whom my affinity knows no bounds, and Tommy Doyle, the grown up version of the kid that Jamie Lee Curtis was babysitting in the original. Since that incident, he has spent his life obsessed with Michael Myers and hunting him down. We're then introduced to the people across the street, who are members of the Strode family themselves, cousins or something. Kara, our main heroine, has a little boy named Danny that shows signs of being a little off.
After banning the actual holiday of Halloween, the town of Haddonfield is yet again being terrorized by Myers, who again, is out to I guess end anyone related to him. Jamie is killed and Tommy finds the baby, finds Dr. Loomis, and we set out on our adventure. Now, the meat and bones of this movie is an expansion on an idea called 'The Curse of Thorn', which you will probably either really like, or really hate. It's ultimately revealed that this Man in Black is Dr. Wynn, the administrator of Smith's Grove, the mental hospital where Michael was sent as a child. He is the head of a cult, who are obsessed with this evil power that is basically turned into it's physical manifestation as The Shape. There are honestly a lot of overblown details about how the stars line up for this evil to come alive, things like that that were probably just too much, but I love that they tried to make it more than generic. My biggest problem with the movie, aside from the hackjob editing and all that, was the actual production, the wardrobe, the sets. This cult that operates in the basement level of the hospital, I already talked about how they look. But they are so non-threatening, and they throw every cliché in the book. We have a temple-like room filled with candles, runes written on the floor and walls, human sacrifice rituals. I have no problem with the idea, but the execution of that aspect was piss poor. The idea is that this cult can control the evil that is Michael, and with this little boy, Danny, who is related to him, through a sacrifice of the baby, the evil will be transferred to him, thus starting a new generation of terror. The Man in Black in kind of a watcher figure, a guardian of the evil, and he ultimately, in a twist, transfers this responsibility over to Dr. Loomis. I personally thought that was a very ironic, unique twist. Sadly, this was Donald Pleasence's last movie and he actually passed away during filming, which understandably also created issues with the production. In the theatrical version, we're lead to believe that Michael kills Dr. Loomis.
In my mind, this is an incredibly hard film to review, but for very unique reasons. It's like you're reviewing yet comparing two different films at the same time, while also being burdened with all of the "what if's" that we're presented with. We basically have what's on screen, what was originally on screen, and what was *written* to be on screen. I've always had mixed feelings about this movie because it's a case of wanting your cake and eating it too. I loved how they tried to take a left turn and create something different, but when I watch a 'Halloween' movie, I also want to see Michael Myers just wrecking some shit. Oddly enough, the ideas of the cult and these characters take a front-row seat, and it seemed to me that Michael Myers is in it very little. It's certainly not the best film of the series, and if I had to rate them, it would probably fall towards the middle, of the 10 films. But watch both versions and decide what you like best. Personally, I think there is an excellent 'Halloween' movie if you took bits and pieces of both and made an ultimate cut with the best of both. But just remember, NOTHING can be as bad as 'Halloween Resurrection', starring Busta Rhymes.
"Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers - The Producer's Cut" gets 7 "I've had it with this Michael Myers bullshit!"'s out of 10