Retrospective: Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (Producer’s Cut)

Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myersthe gift that keeps on giving.  A film so bad there is two versions available for the audience’s viewing needs. Truthfully, for years it was easy to understand the allure of Halloween 6: The Producer’s Cut. After the initial version’s theatrical release, word of the film’s production issues leaked out to the fans, leaving many upset that an installment of their beloved franchise was tampered with in such a way by studio heads. It wasn’t long before bootlegs of the initial test screening version of Halloween 6 found their way into the wild. Fans were hyped, to say the least. Here was, as some claimed, a version of the film that would wash out the bad taste of the initially released version, and to add to that many claimed it was the best Halloween since Carpenter’s original. These crude bootlegs were the only way to watch the film for years. However, a digitally remastered version of Halloween 6: The Producer’s Cut was finally released to home viewers in 2015.

Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers “Producer’s Cut”. Dir. Joe Chappelle.

With that being said, does it actually stand as the quality Halloween sequel as some fans claimed? The short answer is “no” and the long answer is “absolutely not.” In all seriousness, the film was still produced with a compromised screenplay, and a turd can only be polished so much. There are improvements all around, especially on the technical side, but while the film rights many wrongs from the theatrical version,it still manages to create many wrongs of its own.

The story of Halloween 6: The Producer’s Cut begins largely the same way as the theatrical cut. There is a cult, Jamie has a baby, she makes a call to a radio station, etc.  However, the difference between the two films is immediate. The “flash cut montage of later scenes” from the theatrical cut is gone, and there is a noticeably slower pace just within the first minutes. Uncle Michael still attacks his niece in the barn, but he uses a knife instead of farm machinery in a much less gory scene. Jamie somehow survives this attack and is carted off to a hospital shortly after.

Jamie lives.

There is a distinct attempt here to mimic the feel of the original Halloween (1978), and the Producer’s Cut is moderately successful in that regard. This is especially evident in scenes of Kara walking around Haddonfield, which is a deliberate reference to Laurie doing the same in the first film. The emphasis is on building suspense over unnecessary jump scares. The improved editing lets these scenes play out in a deliberate, steady pace, and when paired with Alan Howarth’s improved take at the score, the Halloween atmosphere lives a little. Howarth still relies on old themes, specifically with going to the “Halloween Main Theme” well too often, but it’s not as lazy or uninspired as previous attempts. This time, he experiments more with the old themes and mixes them with his patented ambient soundscapes. It took a few tries, but Howarth does right by the series’ reputation for good scores.

Even the characters are more fleshed out in this version and actually reflect the behavior of real people… except for Paul Rudd’s Tommy, that is. The character who benefits the most from this is Donald Pleasance’s Dr. Loomis.However, the script still should have gone further and made him more essential to the plot. It seems odd that he doesn’t even share one scene with Michael. An easy way to fix this is to combine Tommy Doyle and Dr. Loomis into one character named Dr. Loomis. They both serve the same purpose, and their scenes together are unintentionally hilarious with them agreeing with each other as if they were of the same mind. In the time since Halloween 5, it seems that Dr. Loomis has somewhat buried the past and regained his sanity, and Pleasance seems happy to be back in the role. Granted, he was unfortunately not in the best shape, so it’s understandable that his screen time be reduced for that reason.

Donald Pleasance in his final performance as Dr. Samuel Loomis.

The character of Jamie Lloyd is still treated as an afterthought. She survives Uncle Michael’s attack just to lay completely unconscious in a hospital bed for the rest of her role on-screen (hey, maybe it’s a subtle Halloween II (1981) reference to the character’s mother!). There are some scenes of Dr. Loomis reflecting over her unconscious state for his failures to protect her, which seems like throwing a bone to fans of the last two films. Outside of that, she just lays in that hospital bed until she gets murdered in her sleep by the Man in Black. If that seems disrespectful to the character and her fans, get strapped in for what else is coming.

Nevermind, she’s dead again.

The third act is still a complete mess, but it’s a better acted, directed, and edited mess. It’s just that the story still doesn’t make much sense, and it has to be explained to get a sense of what’s going on with this movie. While more emphasis is placed on the cult, they still are not defined all that well. Steven, Kara, and her son still get kidnapped, with Tommy and Dr. Loomis still left alive for the purpose of moving the film along. Dr. Wynn is still revealed to be The Man in Black, which is still ridiculous, but here he actually feels like the film’s antagonist with Michael being his lapdog. A ritual gets conducted by the cult at Smith’s Grove where Michael will kill the baby and simultaneously Kara will be murdered by her son. It’s an odd visual to see this ritual taking place with Michael Myers just standing around just like everyone else. He has lost every ounce of mystique by this point.

Michael Myers, standing around and being the awkward guy at the party.

Not so fast though! Tommy Doyle sneaks into the ritual while posing as a cult member, and somehow manages to hold off the entire cult while brandishing a single knife (Michael Myers has likely survived hundreds of bullet wounds but backs off at the sight of Paul Rudd holding a knife?). The heroes almost escape from the sanitarium, but a locked security door blocks their path while Michael closes in. Tommy starts rumbling through his bag of Celtic runes and places them in position while rubbing his own blood on the floor. As he stands up, Michael grabs Tommy by the throat only to let go immediately after. It seems the runes have stopped Michael dead in his tracks, and he just stands there while Dr. Loomis shoots the lock to open the door.

This whole time, all they needed was a few rocks.

The heroes all escape with the exception of Dr. Loomis, who stays behind, just as in the theatrical version. Meanwhile, Dr. Wynn finds Michael still apparently frozen in place by the runes and remarks, “Michael, what have they done to you.” I wonder the same thing at times. Dr. Loomis goes inside to find Michael lying flat on the floor. He looks at his former patient in regret as he takes off the mask, revealing Dr. Wynn under the blank visage. Wynn looks at Loomis and says, “It’s your game now.” That’s when the Thorn tattoo appears on Loomis’s wrist, indicating he will now be the one to protect Michael in the future. Pleasance gives audiences one last terrifying scream as Michael is revealed to have left the facility, all while wearing the Man in Black garb. The camera cuts to a jack-o-lantern and then, fin.

One last scream for the fans.

It’s a bad ending… an improvement over the original, but still bad. There is still an issue of character motivations, especially regarding the cult and baby. There is still no explanation for why Jamie was impregnated just so Michael could kill the child and end his bloodline when he could have ended his bloodline at any time by killing Jamie. To muddy the waters a little more, for what is perhaps the most groan worthy addition to the Halloween saga at this point, the father of Jamie’s baby is revealed to be none other than Michael Myers himself: meaning that Jamie was raped by her boogeyman uncle. This is orchestrated by the cult of course, and nothing about it is logical or interesting. Instead, it’s a gross idea done purely for shock value and completely misses the mark with all characters involved. What purpose does it serve other than to make Uncle Daddy Michael a rapist now? His bloodline already existed and the cult…nope. I’m done.  This isn’t worth thinking about so much. The people calling the shots obviously don’t care about the film, so why should the audience?

Regardless of what version you go with, Halloween 6 is disappointing as a conclusion to the Jamie Lloyd series of Halloween sequels, and as a standalone horror film. The Producer’s Cut is an improvement over the theatrical mainly because of an emphasis placed more on style, pace, and atmosphere over quick jolts and gore. Both versions remain nonsensical and bring the series to an all-new low. Pleasance, before his untimely passing, went on record as stating the initial, Farrands written screenplay, titled Halloween 666, was one of the better horror-related screenplays he had come across and that it truly scared him. Perhaps that would have been the case had it not been for the frantic studio meddling. Farrands liked joking on-set that the production itself was cursed. The producers did not get the joke, but loved it so much that curse became part of the movie’s subtitle. Symbolism at its finest.

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