With “Guilty Pleasures”, I revisit some horror flicks that fans have almost unanimously derided and labeled “unlikeable”, but are ones that I actually get a kick out of. This time around, it’s Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers.
The Halloween series – like all of the memorable horror franchises – has carried on long past its expiration date. It’s had 7 sequels, 2 remakes, and even tried completely omitting Michael Myers at one point early on. Since its inception, the series has never gone more than 6 years without a sequel or remake of some sort so, as we approach the 6 year anniversary of Rob Zombie’s embarrassing and confusing take on the series, it should come as no surprise that there has been talk of yet another film to add to the anthology – apparently currently in the works. And it’s this laughable-yet-strangely-admirable refusal to stay dead that has time and time again forced dunderheaded writers and money-hungry producers to make awful, knee-jerk decisions which tarnished the legacy and caused puritanical fans to overturn tables. Sure, they tried the whole ‘telepathic niece‘ angle. And, believe it or not, they even had a CGI mask at one point (I’m never forgivin’ ’em for that one.) But for all the series’s trip-ups and missteps, no entry was harder to get on the screen in one piece than Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (aka Halloween 6, aka Halloween 666: The Origin of Michael Myers.) They had a hell of a time finding a director: at one point or another, Peter Jackson, Scott Spiegel, Jeff Burr, and Fred Walton were all attached to direct the film – and Quentin Tarantino was even attached to produce. Take a minute to wrap your head around that. And there was also last minute script switcheroos and onset bickering between the crew, leading most involved to disown the movie and swear to never be involved in another Halloween flick again. It was that bad. I mean, hell – even ol’ Jamie Lee starred in four of ’em (including the worst in the series) so you know making Halloween 6 had to be rough. It’s unfortunate that arguments, re-writes, and re-shoots caused what could have been (according to original screenwriter Daniel Farrands) a potentially dark and revitalizing entry into a hacked-up head-scratcher (The Man in Black? The Mark of Thorn? Cults, sacrifice, druids? I mean, we’re still talking about that guy from the Illinois suburbs who killed his sis when he was a kid, right?) But dang it all. I like it! I can’t help myself! I saw this in theaters the day it came out. I was 12 years old and I went with my buddy Arnold – I had my parents buy our tickets. I had just read issue #147 of Fangoria and I was pumped, baby! And for whatever reason – despite its numerous and obvious flaws – I still enjoy it. It pays homage to the original quite a bit, which is why I think I like it so much. I’ll try to help illustrate why Halloween 6 is, sadly, the last good entry in the series. (Don’t get me started on the infuriating Halloween H20, aka Halloween Water. That’s a separate article all-together.) Starring and introducing Paul (Stephen) Rudd. Not only is it Rudd’s debut, but it was the first time in the series that a male had become the protagonist hunted by Myers. And he plays Tommy Doyle, a character in the original 1978 film, now a full grown man obsessivly watching over the Strode house from across the street – totally great idea! A retired Dr. Sam Loomis, hidden safely away in a cabin deep in the woods, writing his memoirs. After years of battling Myers, this is how you wanna see old Loomis living out his remaining days. (Sadly, actor Donald Pleasance would pass away before the movie’s release.) Michael’s mask. Sure, he kinda has this Rawhead Rex thing goin’ on with his hair. But the mask is the closest thing to the original since, well, the original. Atmosphere. Haddonfield looks dreary, empty and damp, like a town forever scarred by the memories associated with this autumnal holiday. It’s a look Halloween 4 helped to established and one I’m glad this entry reignited. Just ignore those pesky Illinois mountains in the background. Michael is actually spooky in this! Shot mostly in shadow and under the cover of night, he definitely gives off some eerie vibes in this one. Dr. Loomis gives one final “pure evil” speech, and though it is brief, it’s still poetry:
This force, this thing that lived inside of him came from a source too violent, too deadly for you to imagine. It grew inside him, contaminating his soul. It was pure evil. This house is sacred to him. He has all of his memories here, his rage! Mrs. Strode…I beg of you, don’t let your family suffer the same fate that Laurie and her daughter suffered.
Smashed pumpkin reference. Tommy Doyle (Rudd) causes a boy to drop his pumpkin, much like how Doyle fell on and smashed his own pumpkin in the original. Another nice homage, using Michael’s presence in the backyard, alongside billowing white sheets on a clothesline. This creepy old woman gives a speech about Halloween that rivals Loomis’s ‘pure evil’ speech. It ends up being a bit exposition-y and injects a little too much unnecessary backstory, but damn if it don’t start strong! But extra points for her referring to him as ‘little Mikey Myers’. (Plus, Mike in the background!) This world class a-hole who you just know is gonna get it good. The original Halloween had a cast of bubbly teens you didn’t wanna see get killed, but every sequel from there on threw that idea out the window and made sure to have some jerk you just wanted to see get theirs (Bud in Part 2; Kelly Meeker in Part 4; pretty much everyone in Part 5, especially that little kid with the stutter.) There’s a brief scene set at a live radio show on campus. There are people partying in costumes, barrel fires, twinkling bokehs – all being ominously narrated while we follow Rudd in slow-motion. It’s a fleeting set piece but one I really liked and wanted to see used more! Radio host Barry Simms gets killed in his car – an homage to Annie’s demise in Halloween? I think so! Also, I’d like to point out that earlier in the film Barry makes a joke about “Michael Myers being sent to space”. Just six years later, Jason Voorhees would make that joke an awful reality. “It’s raining, mommy. It’s raining red. It’s warm.” In yet another homage, the damsel in distress runs to the neighbor’s house, banging on the door pleading for help – all while we see Michael slowly making his way across the street to her. Now that I mention it, maybe this article shoulda just been how Halloween 6 is one long homage to the original! So it’s around this time that the movie kinda flies off the rails. The climax is set in a hospital (Halloween II, anyone?), and basically it’s just one long scene where Michael murders a boatload of doctors while strobe lights are going off – no, really. However, it’s a notable scene for one specific reason: it’s the first time since the original that you see Michael run! It’s brief – and I do mean brief – but if you look closely, Michael picks up the pace a little when chasing a doctor down some underground corridor. Michael hasn’t moved that fast since he scaled Loomis’s station wagon and escaped from Smith’s Grove! The movie does its best to end with a ‘bang’, but goes out with more of a muted ‘poof’. The final scene sees Rudd thinking he’s beaten Michael to death with a pipe. He really wails on ol’ Mike for awhile with that thing. But after he and the other survivors leave the hospital, Dr. Loomis stays behind – only to be murdered (you can tell by his screams offscreen) by the still living Myers. It’s an entry not without its flaws, and major ones at that. But I truly feel it does a better job of honoring the original in many subtle ways than the glossy and pandering H2O does. In a way, this film was ahead of its time – maybe too ahead of its time. After all, it was written by a fan – and who better to do a horror franchise justice than its obsessive fanbase. Perhaps if the producers had just left the original script alone – and not beaten it to death with a lead pipe – we’d be singing its praises instead of cursing it.
8 thoughts on “GUILTY PLEASURES – “Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers””
Glad to know that others were repulsed by H2Oh, Hell No! as much as me.
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What a great write up! I feel almost exactly the same as you. I saw this on opening day with about 8 people total in the theater. Right as the credits rolled, some guy stood up and yelled, “This movie sucked!” I was 16 at the time…I had a great time. Mostly due to the references to the original that you mentioned.
Looking back, it’s easy to see the flaws, but there’s still enough for me to enjoy. I can’t say as much about the later entries. Listening to Daniel Ferrands on the commentary on the recent Blu Ray makes me realize that there were even more missed opportunities.
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Liking these beasts is almost unexplainable. It’s almost as if I enjoy them in spite of their flaws. But there is no irony or winking or jokin’ around in my appreciation for ’em!
I mean, just imagine how good this movie’d be with just a few little tweaks – maybe a masterpiece!
And don’t get me started on anything post-Halloween 6! I don’t have a strong enough stomach.
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I like the way you word that. I like a lot of slashers in spite of their flaws. A few things that don’t work aren’t going to completely sink a movie where some things really work.
I always found it strange in the mid 90s that people would tear this to shreds and ignore that most of the Halloween sequels have serious flaws. Halloween 6 is a convoluted mess at times because it was continuing the tradition of over explaining everything about Michael that began with part 2.
For my tastes, I can find enough to like about each of the first 6 movies to make them worth the time. I have an affinity for 6 because I feel like Ferands loves horror, and Halloween in particular, as much as I do. It shows all through the movie.
Speaking of movies you like that are hard to explain…I have a soft spot for Chainsaw IV. Unlike Halloween 6, I readily admit that this movie is pretty much a disaster from start to finish. I still can’t take my eyes off of it.
On the topic of Farrands: I’m not a screenwriter (yet!) , but something I think/worry about after viewing a questionable piece of garbage (and I mean that in the nicest way possible) is how much the final product differs from the screenwriters original version. I mean, if people like Paul Thomas Anderson have a hard time getting their untouched visions to the screen, there ain’t no hope of defending your piece if it’s your first script!
Also, a quick aside: I don’t know who was responsible – the screenwriter, the director, or the producers/moneypeople – but I never understood how they thought making Jamie Lloyd psychic for a whole film was even a slightly good idea.
As for TCM4, let’s not get crazy. Personally, I consider it the worst of the franchise – and I’ve seen Texas Chainsaw 3D! It baffles me that not only was Kim Henkel responsible, but that he intended for it to be a follow-up to the original.
But hey, one man’s trash!
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I’ve heard so many horror stories about screenwriters having the final film be almost unrecognizable from their original drafts. I tend to think screenwriters provide the most interesting commentary tracks. Did you listen to the track recorded for the Producer’s Cut of Halloween 6? It’s well worth the time.
You made me laugh about the psychic Jamie Lloyd. I say the same thing about the super fuel subplot in the original Hills Have Eyes 2. Did someone actually pitch that idea to an executive with a straight face?
As for Chainsaw 4, I’m under no illusions about its quality. It’s a disaster from start to finish. But I’m especially enamored with that disaster of an ending. There are so many things wrong with it that taken all together, it has completely grown on me. I’ll take Rothman and Leatherface looking like Roseanne Barr over that jackass saying, “Do your thing, Cuz” every time.
Rene Zellwegger telling Leatherface to sit down and Leatherface actually sitting down may be another story though. If there is ever a movie I wanted a good commentary track for, it was TCM 4. I feel like Henkel has a lot of explaining to do!
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I’ve not listened to the H6 commentary, but now you’ve piqued my interest. I will have to seek it out.
As for “Do your thing, Cuz”: atrocious. Mind-boggling. Stunningly inane. Again, who greenlit that? Someone who has never seen a Texas Chainsaw Massacre film, I can assure you.
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