Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween 6 - The Producer's Cut

A Look at the Legendary "Lost" Michael Myers Movie

The “Halloween” series - as long as we’re not counting ANYTHING made after “H20” - is really one of the better slasher franchises out there. The first is an all-time classic and the 1981 follow-up is arguably one of the most underappreciated horror flicks of the decade. Despite being derided mercilessly upon its original release, “Halloween III” (AKA, “The One That Doesn't Have Jack Shit To Do With The First Two Movies“) has garnered something of a cult classic status as of late, while parts IV and V are generally considered to be well above-average compared to its “dead teenager” contemporaries. 

Really, the odd duck out in the “Halloween” franchise is part six, which had the unfortunate honor of being released right before “Scream” came out. In many ways, “The Curse of Michael Myers” is the great “forgotten” Michael Myers movie, which is pretty appropriate, since the original cut of the film itself was shelved and REMAINS (legally) shelved to this day. 

The history here is a little convoluted, so we may have to take some time to get this thing down pat. The original script for “Halloween 6” was penned shortly after 1989’s “Halloween 5,” but since slasher movies were deader than Elvis by 1992, the script just kind of sat there for half a decade. In 1995, the sixth “Halloween” film finally went into production, but the test audiences HATED the first cut of the film so much that the guys at Dimension decided to go back and edit the hell out of the flick to make it more digestible for the masses. So, the film got a theatrical release to little fanfare, while the original cut of the film - ultimately referred to as “The Producer’s Cut” of the film - was left lying around the vaults. That is, until some dude leaked the film and started passing it around the VHS circuits at horror conventions in the late ‘90s. 

Well, don’t ask me how, but I was able to screen a copy of “The Producer’s Cut” of Halloween 6, and I figured it was worth a review. Clearly, the visual and audio quality of the cut is pretty horrendous, but I reckon we ought to be appreciative of what we have, anyway. Hell, like we would complain if somebody gave us a copy of “Songs from the Black Hole” on cassette tape, right? 

If you’re wondering what the key differences are between the original theatrical release and the Producer’s Cut, the title sequence is a good place to begin, because here, they’re totally different from what we ended up seeing on the big screen. After the opening credits scroll (introducing us to Paul Rudd as a construct, apparently), we encounter a presumably pregnant woman being wheeled through what appears to be a dimly-light warehouse. We get lots of scenes of slow-motion screaming, which concludes with a “nurse” of sorts delivering a baby in a room filled with candles while dudes in monk robes stand around holding torches and looking all ominous and stuff. We hear some voiceover from Donald Pleasance, see a flashback to the conclusion of “Halloween 5” and then, that classical John Carpenter riff kicks in. 

I tell 'ya - the foreclosure rates around here are just MURDER!

So, the woman that just gave birth is trying to escape from…something…alongside the “nurse” and her newborn. Now, you may be wondering how a woman that just squeezed out a nine pound dumbbell sans ANY painkillers would be physically able to run for her life just five seconds after the umbilical cord was cut. To respond to that inquiry, the producers…well, they never tell us, actually. The trio runs around a bunch of corridors a billion times (clearly, the set design here was greatly inspired by “Aliens”) before the nurse gets impaled by a certain lumbering psychopath. So, the new mother and her cub escape from the compound, and wouldn’t you know, they run smackdab into a torrential downpour. She decides to steal a truck, which results in Michael Myers snapping off the head of the vehicle’s rightful owner. Quick cut to the old Myers’ home, which is now occupied by the parts of the Strode family that HAVEN’T been dissected yet. A little kid named Danny has nightmares about something he calls “the voice man,” which looks an awful lot like the dude clad in black attire that sprung Michael out of jail towards the end of the last flick. Well, I’m sure that’s an inconsequential plot point and stuff. 

So, there’s this radio show hosted by a Howard Stern-type called Barry Simms. Through his program, we learn that Haddonfield, Ill. has banned Halloween for a couple of years, and this is the first Oct. 31 in about half a decade where kids will be allowed to roam the city streets. A woman calls the program and says she wants to get boned by “The Shape,” while the woman running around with her baby leaves a dire message on the show, which is automatically ridiculed by the host. Meanwhile, some dude named Tommy (played by Paul Rudd, if you can believe it) is recording the phone call, while updating his Michael Myers’ themed website. And if the name “Tommy Doyle” sounds just vaguely familiar…well, it should, since that’s the name of the kid Laurie Strode babysat in the first movie. 

We transition to a scene where Dr. Loomis is just hanging out in the woods, retired as all shit and stuff. He gets a knock at the door, and it turns out to be Dr. Wynn, AKA, the head of the psychiatric hospital that formerly housed Michael Myers. The two shoot the shit for awhile, and we return to the chick running with her baby, who is now hiding out at a bus terminal. The Shape shows up, and we have ourselves a good old fashioned pick-up truck versus nondescript bus chase, with predictable results. So, the mother ends up getting offed by Myers at a farm, but what the? There’s no baby to be found, anywhere!

Cut to the old Myers’ place, which is populated by your usual cast of angsty, mid-’90s stereotypes. As it turns out, the mother that got killed by Myers was actually a grown-up Jamie Lloyd - you know, Michael Myers’ niece from parts 4 and 5. This is buffered by a scene with Dr. Loomis and Dr. Wynn at Smith’s Grove Mental Institution, which concludes with Donald Pleasance cutting one of those kick-ass monologues the way only he can. Back to the Strodes, which is pretty much the most dysfunctional family this side of the Mansons. Kara - the primary protagonist of the film - is a college girl and Danny’s mom. She gets backhanded by her dad (your typical, one-dimensional drunk dad archetype), and her son responds by pulling a kitchen knife on him. I think that’s called “foreshadowing,” but I could be wrong. 

That's a nice picture you drew of your entire family being brutally murdered, Johnny. I'm sure we don't need  to look into that or anything.

Kara ends up meeting Tommy, and they kick it back at his place for awhile. He listens to Jamie’s phone call from the bus terminal and decides to visit it for clues. He arrives, and apparently, everyone was able to just IGNORE the massive blood trails leading into the women’s bathroom. He ends up finding the baby there, and says stuff to it in grunge-speak. Back at college, Kara shows off some of her kids’ artwork to her brother and his painfully ‘90s gal pal. Tommy runs into Dr. Loomis at the emergency room, and the two totally recognize each other from way back when. The two have this ridiculously long (as well as ridiculously ridiculous) discussion about how Michael Myers soaks up power through ancient rune stones and how his entire bloodline is “cursed” by some evil Irish spirit or something. Back at the Strode house, mom does some laundry and gets spooked by Loomis, who decides that it’s totally cool to just walk into people’s homes and start ranting and raving and shit. 

After talking to Loomis, Mrs. Strode comes to realize that her new place is the scene of a couple of homicides…a fact that is just a little hard to overlook, seeing as how the town is primarily KNOWN for being the stomping grounds of a dude named “Myers” that has a tendency to kill the shit out of people. I don’t know, maybe she thought it was the house of some other family called the “Myers” or something. Your usual “false scare” shtick unfurls, concluding with Mama Strode getting the sharp end of a hatchet dug into her face while hanging up laundry. Cut to a scene where Tommy and Tim, Kara’s brother, talk about stuff. We get some flashback of Jamie being abducted by the Druid cult, and then, we hear some more gobbledygook about runes and “the mark of thorn” and some other hogwash that explains that Michael ONLY goes on killing sprees under a certain celestial arrangement. And after all of that, we get another Dr. Loomis hissy-fit scene, because let’s face it, those segments NEVER get old. 

For the evening, Tommy’s mom is babysitting Danny, while we’re entertained by a montage of Halloween shenanigans transpiring across town. We’re given the shocking revelation that Tommy’s mom was actually the babysitter the night Michael killed his sister way back when, which, canonically, is just about freaking impossible, when you think about it. So, Mr. Strode comes in from work, all liquored up and stuff, and acting like an asshole. He finds his washing machine loaded with bloody apparel (even though the power in the home is off) before Michael decides to electrocute/impale him. 

Finally...a slasher movie in which a character gets killed by Christmas tree lights!

In the next scene, that one dude from the radio shows up and says he’s going to hold a live broadcast from the old Myers’ place, but he ends up being too stabbed to ever make it there. Then Kara’s brother and his girlfriend decide to head upstairs for some SEHKS, while Kara watches across the street (but it’s for TOTALLY non-pervy reasons, of course.) And in case this is the first slasher movie you’ve ever watched, things generally don’t end well for people that do humping, or any permutation thereof. And then, Danny decides to walk on over to the Myers’ place, which prompts Kara to pick up a fire poker and KICK SOME ASS. 

The climax of the movie is pretty much a watered down remake of the conclusion from the first flick, with Kara doing her best Jamie Lee Curtis impersonation while getting chased around by “the Shape.” Following the old “I have to discover every single corpse piled up over the course of the movie” routine, it’s revealed that Dr. Wynn - you know, the dude in charge of the mental hospital where Myers was housed for a couple of years - was actually the mysterious “man in black” from the end of “Halloween 5.” So, some druids show up at Tommy’s place, and decide to abduct Kara from some convoluted ritual sacrifice at Smith’s Grove. Of course, Tommy and Loomis intervene, which concludes with Myers being “frozen” by a set of runes they just left there in the hallway. After Tommy and Kara escape, Dr. Loomis returns to the building, where it’s revealed that…gasp…Dr. Wynn was actually pretending to be Michael Myers while the real killer escaped in the “man in black” garb! And if that’s not enough, a dying Dr. Wynn apparently “passed” on his evil to Dr. Loomis, who ends up getting the “mark of thorn” branded on his arm, somehow. And after a memorial to Donald Pleasance (who died shortly after the film was wrapped up), the final credits roll. 

Michael Myers' reaction upon finding out that, in seven years' time, he would be co-starring alongside Tyra and Busta Rhymes.

It’s been a couple of years since I last watched the theatrical version of “Halloween 6,” and while the “Producer’s Cut” has a few positive alterations, I have to say that I enjoyed the original version a lot more than this one. For one thing, the gore quotient in the original was way higher and the whole elemental-rune bullstuff was a lot less prominent. There were several key kills in the original (including the death of Dr. Loomis) that were excised from this version, which opted to leave the door open for a more supernaturally-tinged follow-up. Rumors have persisted for years that the Producer’s Cut would receive a full DVD release, but seeing as how demand for the title is so low (not to mention that the rights are owned by Disney, who’s list of priorities probably doesn’t entail ‘releasing niche-market horror movies that all but 100 or so people really give a shit about seeing, anyway), the odds of us ever being able to purchase the alternate version seems pretty unlikely. 

All in all, The Producer’s Cut of “Halloween 6” is a pretty decent, if not mediocre, slasher film, that feels pretty light on the exploitation and way too heavy on the mystical and supernatural. I’d say that it’s a pretty average horror flick for the timeframe, and if given the choice, definitely vouch for the theatrical version instead. Or better yet, just re-watch the first five movies as a substitution; what better way to celebrate Oct. 31 could there be other than 10 hours of nonstop Mikey Myers and synthesizer music, anyway? 

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