Thursday, 24 November 2016

Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)


Director: Joe Chappelle
Screenplay: Daniel Farrands
Cast: Donald Pleasence (as Dr. Sam Loomis); Paul Rudd (as Tommy Doyle); Marianne Hagan (as Kara Strode); Devin Gardner (as Danny Strode); George P. Wilbur (as Michael Myers)
A Night of a Thousand Horror Movies #65

An important note for this review is that I viewed the theatrical cut. The Producer's Cut, which was made available in the USA in a limited edition Scream Factory set which put all the Halloween franchise together, is difficult for me to acquire so I had to judge the theatrical cut. This is important as there're well documented differences which drastically effect the versions. The theatrical cut of The Curse of the Michael Myers, after a tolerance even to the dumber moments of the Halloween sequels, is where the wheels fully fall off the franchise's cart. I could accept illogical plot points, dumb characters and death by boiling therapeutic Jacuzzi beforehand but The Curse of the Michael Myers is legitimately bad in its theatrical form, not able to get away with its sillier content because of how utterly dull and visibly tampered with it is.

At this point, the franchise acquired by Dimension Films, this is the first 90s Halloween film with an entirely new decade of fashion and type of horror movie in existence, yet they decided to follow the twist ending of the 1989 fifth film and the entire pagan plot line from before, Jamie Lloyd (J. C. Brandy replacing Danielle Harris) having escaped a cult with her newly born child, leading a much older Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance in one of his last films) and a grown up Tommy Doyle (Paul Rudd), one of the charges of Laurie Strode's from the original 1978 film, to discover said cult which has been responsible for Michael Myers and is using him to kill. Allowing six years to pass for real is not a necessarily a bad idea in terms of sequels - as Halloween H20 (1998) will show, having time passing for viewers to have lived with the prequel adds to the significance of the plot alongside seeing actors and their characters age. Even visibly weak in voice and appearance, it's not sad to see Pleasance here as a milder, inquisitive Dr. Loomis investigating the events that are taking place, instead what should've been perfect closure as the character is trying to close the book on what's consumed his life. The problem is that's the only good comment I've got for The Curse of the Michael Myers within a film that's utterly disastrous.

What happens, in terms of trying to take the cultist lore of the sequels before it, is that most of Pleasance's scenes are visibly cut from the theatrical cut, absolutely reprehensible especially as the film's dedicated to him after his death during its production, and Tommy Doyle comes off as a sociopath, through Rudd's cold delivery and spying at the old Myers house through a telescope, rather than a sympathetic and psychologically damaged young man. The other protagonist, young mother and college student Kara Strode (Marianne Hagan) - a member of another Strode family clan living in the older Myers' house under an abusive alcoholic father, and whose young son is being corrupted by the cult - doesn't have a lot to do and, in how she looks and acts, would make more sense if she was a single mother in her early thirties, forced to live back with her parents, rather than the young college student she's clearly meant to be.


The film's also an utter mess in terms of plot; even if the previous sequels weren't exactly bulletproof in their logic, here it does feels like the narrative was cut to shreds by post-production issues. The whole narrative arc of Part 4 onwards if already killed off in a terrible creative decision, to make a cult the reason behind Michael Myers in the first place, turning the character from a bogeyman to a toothless puppet, but the theatrical cut ironically cuts out all the cult subplot that originally tried to deepen it in the original version, thus making the whole point of the Part 4 to 6 story ultimately pointless. The noticeable tampering on the film also leaves a literal mess of snap cuts of images just for cheap scare effects, an obnoxious soundtrack of screams and moans for each kill, and more bloodier but terrible murder scenes including something worse than any from Halloween II (1981), involving a washing machine that somehow still works with all the electricity being turned off and electrocution, despite the power being cut out, leading to a Scanners-like head explosion. The ending, knowing what happened with the final cut of the film until the Producer's Cut came to existence, is embarrassing in how jarring the events in each scene are connecting to each other, taking place in a mental health facility that's designed as an industrial hellhole from a Silent Hill videogame with an abrupt end and Myers being able to be subdued with merely an iron pipe.

I find however the most problematic aspects of The Curse of the Michael Myers is how it's both aesthetically awful and as mean spirited as it is. The general tone of the later is one dimensional, with crass figures like the alcoholic father or especially the obnoxious shock jock who comes to Haddonfield for cheap Halloween season publicity, less adult but more like being screamed at in un-meaningful dreck. As for the former, the nineties was a glorious decade for cinema, the last when celluloid was the main medium before digital started to take over, and when even blockbusters could be unconventional and inventive, but it was especially for horror films after Scream (1996) also when the worst traits of the American genre industry started to appear, where the post-music video aesthetic used in The Curse of the Michael Myers is distracting and the film even fails in using John Carpenter's musical theme, turning it into a guitar lick abomination. Altogether, unless Halloween Resurrection (2002) manages to be even worse, this is really the nadir for the franchise; all the sequels before this still have some fun to them, whilst the only humour I have here is calling it The Curse of the Michael Myers with "the" added intentionally rather than by mistake of my typing. 


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