Written by: Daniel Farrands
Directed by: Joe Chappelle
Starring: Donald Pleasence, Paul Rudd, Marianne Hagan, and George Wilbur
Reviewed by: Brett G.
"A long, long time ago, it was a night of great power. When the days grew short, the spirits of the dead returned to their homes to warm themselves by the fire's side. All across the land, huge bonfires were lit. Oh, there was a marvelous celebration. People danced, and they played games, and they dressed up in costumes, hoping to ward off the evil spirits. Especially the boogey man."
After the lackluster reception to 1989's Halloween 5, Michael Myers and the Halloween franchise sat on the shelf for about half a decade. Along the way, the rights for the series fell into the hands of Dimension films, who commissioned long-time producer Moustapha Akkad to bring Michael back to the big screen. Of course, this would be no small task, as, by the mid-90s, the slasher sub-genre was pretty much dead; furthermore, Halloween 6 had to follow up on the cliffhanger ending of the last film, which left us with a mysterious Man in Black breaking Myers out of prison, much to the dismay of young Jamie Lloyd. Plus, the film's troubled production history didn't bode well, as Halloween 6 sort of set the precedent for Dimension Films to screw up sequels to horror franchises. Dave detailed these problems in his review of the Producer's Cut of the film, but, to make a long story short, Dimension wasn't exactly thrilled with how the film played to test audiences and demanded significant reshoots that resulted in the version that eventually made its way to theaters.
The Curse of Michael Myers picks up at Smith's Grove Sanitarium, where a suddenly bulky Myers is stalking a now teenage Jamie Lloyd, who is also carrying her newborn baby with her. After a lengthy opening sequence that eventually winds up at an old farm, Michael finally has Jamie set up for the kill; however, she delivers a somewhat cryptic message to her deranged uncle, as she informs him that he "can't have the baby," which she hid at a nearby bus station. The scene then shifts to Haddonfield, where some relatives of the Strode family now reside in the old Myers house. Meanwhile, the child that Laurie Strode babysat in the original film, Tommy Doyle, happens to live across the street and has become obsessed with Michael Myers. Tommy also happened to hear Jamie Lloyd's desperate plea to Dr. Loomis on a radio talk show, manages to track down her baby, and then enlists the help of the good doctor to protect it from Michael. Along the way, the film attempts to create some sort of origin for Michael's madness that involves the Pagan roots of the holiday and the Druid Cult of the Thorn.
Along with the previous film, Halloween 6 is probably the most infamous of the Halloween sequels, as you'll rarely find anyone who stands up for it. That's why the handful of fans out there should bookmark this review, or take a good, long look at it, as I believe Halloween 6 to be a fine Halloween film. Sure, it has its share of missteps, but underneath it all is a decent slasher film that suffers the ignominy of being the sixth entry in a franchise spawned by a legendary film. However, if you remove that baggage, youíll find all the things that make a slasher work: good atmosphere, decent characters, and some good kills (though there is an exploding head that feels a little out of place in this series).
Unlike many slashers, however, this film complicates things a bit by attempting to give Michael an origin and by introducing the Thorn Cult. As Iíve said in other reviews, I prefer for Michael to be a mysterious character, as he works better as an enigmatic boogeyman; however, I will give this film credit for at least trying something different in this respect. Instead of opting for a clichť or trite explanation (like a bad childhood), the film actually taps the Pagan roots of the holiday itself, which hadnít been seen in the series since Michaelís cryptic Samhain reference in the second entry. This storyline was most affected by the filmís reshoots, as, unfortunately, the story unravels a bit due to the ending. According to some exposition in the film, Michael has actually been controlled by the Thorn cult since childhood; however, the film sort of tosses this out towards the end and leaves the viewer wondering what exactly the point is. While the notion that Michael can be stopped by a bunch of magic rocks seems ridiculous in the Producerís Cut, it at least fits with what the film establishes earlier. Here, the film just sort of peters out and limps to its conclusion. Along the way, we also learn the identity of the mysterious Man in Black, which also manages to a bit of a disappointment.
Aside from the story complications caused by the re-shoots, Halloween 6 is a solid film. For one thing, youíve still got Donald Pleasence aboard for his last film appearance ever (he died shortly after the film wrapped), and, even better, Dr. Loomis actually acts like himself again. Instead of being a completely deranged old man who terrifies children (as was the case in the previous film), heís back to being a compassionate and likeable character again. Our other principals are good characters as well: Paul Ruddís Tommy is slightly creepy, but ultimately likeable, while Kara Strode and her son are characters that you care about. One misstep in casting here is J.C. Brandy replacing Danielle Harris in the role of Jamie Lloyd, as Dimension and Harris couldnít come to a monetary agreement. This is not to say that Brandy does a bad job because her role isnít that large; however, as a fan, it would have been nice to be able to see Harris bring closure to the role she made famous. On the other side of the spectrum is the character of John Strode, who serves the role of the requisite slasher-film prick who you canít wait to see die. It seems like this type of character was especially a staple of some of the later Friday the 13th films, as both Parts VII and VIII feature characters you love to hate. However, I think John Strode might take the ďslasher prickĒ cake, as thereís not one redeemable quality about this guy.
Another thing the film gets right is atmosphere, as the film is dripping in Halloween imagery, and I think itís the last Halloween film to get this aspect of the series right. There are moody establishing shots, creepy environments, and an altogether dark and autumnal look to the film. The film also features one of my favorite sequences in any Halloween film when Mrs. Blankenship gives her speech about the origins of the holiday itself while Tommy attends a Halloween gathering in Haddonfield. Itís a creepy little sequence that feels perfect for a Halloween film. Overall, Halloween 6 feels very anachronistic, as it still feels sort of like an 80s slasher film with a 90s look. However, the film also arrived before the advent of Scream, so it bears no similarities to it or its clones. In many ways, Halloween 6 almost stands alone as the lone mid-90s slasher, and itís interesting to wonder what other slashers would have been like if there were any being produced during this time. I canít quite put my finger on it, but something makes The Curse of Michael Myers feel unique not only among the Halloween series, but among slashers in general.
Ultimately, this is another one of those entries in a popular series thatís universally hated that Iím somehow able to tolerate and even enjoy. It seems like fan opinion is in a constant state of flux, and I wonder if this film wonít find the fans in a few years. Stranger things have happened, as it looks like Halloween 3 has found a fairly solid place among fans in recent years. If not for the admittedly bewildering Thorn sub-plot, itís possible that this would already be one of the more popular entries in the franchise, as it does all the basic slasher stuff just as well as any of the other sequels that came before it. Plus, I think itís a more interesting film than Halloween 5, which really felt like nothing more than a redux of Part 4 with less likeable characters. Finally, I think itís a much better Halloween film than either of the last two sequels, which are mediocre at best.
It would seem that Dimension also treats Halloween 6 with a bit of disdain as well, as theyíve only released the film once on DVD: a bare-bones, non-anamorphic disc from way back in 2000. Thereís been rumblings about Dimension giving the Producerís Cut a proper release (but Iíve also heard that the original elements have been destroyed), but thatís neither here nor there, as I would also like to see the theatrical version get a good DVD as well. Itís a shame that there are actually bootlegs out there that feature an anamorphic transfer for the P-Cut, while the theatrical versionís official disc lacks even this. Given that the film isnít exactly popular, Iím not holding my breath for a re-release anytime soon, and, while Iím disappointed in the filmís disc, it is cheap at least. Plus, in the end, itís all about the films themselves anyway, and I think Halloween 6 is worthy of a purchase, even if the DVD itself is lackluster. Thatís right, the six fans of this movie out there are hereby vindicated by this review, as I urge everyone out there to give this film a look: Buy it!
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