Film Review: Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers – The Producer’s Cut (1995)

Release Date: September 29th, 1995
Directed by: Joe Chappelle
Written by: Daniel Farrands
Based on: characters by John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Music by: Alan Howarth, Paul Rabjohns
Cast: Donald Pleasence, Paul Rudd, Marianne Hagan, Mitch Ryan

Miramax Films, Nightfall Productions, Trancas International, Dimension Films, 88 Minutes (theatrical), 95 Minutes (Producer’s Cut)

Review:

“I’ve wanted to believe it. But I’ve felt Michael’s presence, behind these walls, just like all those years ago. Plotting, staring, Staring. Waiting for some signal. I can’t go through this again, not alone. Please, as my colleague, as my friend. Help me.” – Dr. Loomis

For those that don’t know, there are two different versions of the film Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers. There was the theatrical cut and then there was a producer’s cut, which was lost and never to be released.

In the late 90s, The Producer’s Cut started to circulate at horror conventions on a crappy bootleg VHS tape. The quality was generally poor on every copy in circulation but the fans who did get to see it, considered it a far superior version of the film.

Recently, it was released commercially as an added bonus to the Halloween Blu-ray box set. After demand increased and people didn’t want to have to buy all the movies again, just to access The Producer’s Cut, it was released on its own. I was able to rent it on Amazon.

So is it truly “a masterpiece” as some have said?

No, not really. It is an enjoyable slasher flick if you are a fan of the genre and especially if you like Michael Myers. The problem with it, is that the gist of the plot that made up the theatrical version is still intact. In fact, this version expands on it further. What I’m specifically referring to is all the stuff surrounding Michael’s origin and the cult that commands him.

Yes, apparently Michael Myers has been controlled by a cult all this time. I’m not really sure how it all works and the film attempted to explain some things but it did a poor job of it.

What makes these films work is the mystery of who Michael Myers is. We know he killed his sister when he was 6 years-old and we know he shows up on Halloween to murder his family members but we didn’t need an over bloated explanation. Knowing how the trick works destroys the magic.

I thought that the approach and story they wanted to tell was ambitious and maybe it could have actually added something good to the mythos. The execution was just bad in either version of the film. Yes, I love the Halloween mythos and you have to try and offer up something new with each picture. I’m not against the cult idea, I just don’t like how it panned out.

It was interesting to see a very young Paul Rudd in this film, his debut, but with the stardom he has now reached, he becomes more of a distraction in this tale. But at least you get to see Ant-Man versus Michael Myers – a dream match no one asked for.

The ending in both versions of the film are different. They are also both pretty bad. At least the theatrical film ended with some action, where The Producer’s Cut ended with (*spoiler alert*) Paul Rudd dressing up like a warlock and putting runes on the floor, which basically just turned Michael Myers off – allowing the good guys to escape. I thought Michael Myers was really just Rain Man and he was counting runes like Dustin Hoffman counted toothpicks.

Additionally, The Producer’s Cut has less gore than the theatrical version. I don’t really care about that either way but the studio wanted an overabundance of violence and that was added to the film after re-shoots. Also, the character of Jamie Lloyd lived longer and had more of a story in The Producer’s Cut.

It was cool to finally see this version of the film but it wasn’t the over-hyped magnificent Michael Myers magnum opus that horror snobs who saw it, bragged about. I was left disappointed by what I was anticipating but pretty satisfied with what the film was overall. And, at least, it is better than any Halloween film that came after it, except for H2O, which is better than I remembered but I’ll review that one next.

Film Review: Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

Release Date: October 13th, 1989
Directed by: Dominique Othenin-Girard
Written by: Michael Jacobs, Dominique Othenin-Girard, Shem Bitterman
Based on: characters by John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Music by: Alan Howarth
Cast: Donald Pleasence, Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Beau Starr, Wendy Kaplan, Tamara Glynn

Magnum Pictures, Klasky Csupo, Trancas International, Galaxy Releasing, 97 Minutes

Review:

“No, of course you don’t forget. How could you? You never looked into his face, did you? You never saw his eyes. You never saw that- that nothing, no expression, blank. My memory goes back twelve years to the night I offered… I’m gonna show you- show you something. Look. [lifts up his burned hand] Look at this, look at that. I prayed that he would burn in Hell, but in my heart I knew that Hell would not have him.” – Dr. Loomis

After the success of Halloween 4, the fifth installment was quickly pushed out. It follows the events of the fourth film but picks up a year later.

While not quite as good as 4Halloween 5 still captures the same tone and utilizes the strengths of the returning cast members.

I always really liked the opening sequence of this one. It shows how Michael Myers survives the ending of the fourth film, after being blasted to bits and falling down a mine shaft. This film even puts an extra cherry on top by having the town mob throw some dynamite down the well, which wasn’t seen in the finale of the fourth film.

This is also the first film to show Michael maybe express some empathy when he is about to murder his young niece and she asks to see his face and a tear is revealed. It can possibly be assumed that he isn’t really in control of himself, which is something that will be answered in the next film. However, this also sort of cheapens the long held idea that Michael is nothing other than evil personified.

Danielle Harris really ups the ante in this one and cemented herself as a scream queen and not just some one-off screamy kid in a sole slasher film. Donald Pleasence also returns and is at his best. He even gets some good shots in on Michael, after he’s been beaten, battered and slashed by the monster.

Also, this film is the first to show Michael’s tattoo, which would be significant to the plot of the sixth film. It also introduces a mysterious character, at the end, that assists in Michael’s escape from the police station. This also sets up the sixth film. Really, this is the first film that felt like it was actually planning to move forward, even if the sixth installment didn’t come for another six years.

If you like Halloween 4, there really isn’t a reason to dislike Halloween 5. It’s more of the same and might not be as good but it makes up for its small drop in quality with some new and interesting plot developments.

Film Review: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

Release Date: October 21st, 1988
Directed by: Dwight H. Little
Written by: Alan B. McElroy, Danny Lipsius, Larry Rattner, Benjamin Ruffner, John Carpenter, Debra Hill, Dennis Etchison
Based on: characters by John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Music by: Alan Howarth
Cast: Donald Pleasence, Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Michael Pataki

Trancas International, Galaxy Releasing, 88 Minutes

Review:

“Six bodies, Sheriff! That’s what I’ve seen between here and Ridgemont! A filling station in flames! I’m telling you Michael Myers is here, in this town! He’s here to kill that little girl and anybody who gets in his way!” – Dr. Loomis

After Halloween III confused audiences for being a film completely unrelated to the Michael Myers story, the franchise returned to its big moneymaker for Halloween 4. Michael Myers was back! Dr. Sam Loomis was back! Laurie Strode was not back, however.

To keep the story alive without the presence of Jamie Lee Curtis, the plot moves ahead ten years, bringing it up to 1988, the year it was actually released.

In 1988, Laurie is nowhere to be found but her young daughter similarly lives with a foster family. While she knows the dark family secret and knows who her mother is, she and her new family have to contend with the return of Michael Myers, her killer uncle.

Halloween 4 is a pretty standard slasher movie. The slasher shows up, bodies get stabbed and the young heroine has to try and survive the night. This one has a nice twist at the end, however.

It was great seeing Donald Pleasence return to the role of Dr. Loomis. He was still a madman but he wasn’t as batshit crazy as he was in Halloween II.

I like the tone of this picture and Danielle Harris was absolutely dynamite as the young and terrified Jamie Lloyd, the daughter of Laurie Strode. In fact, I like the duology of Halloween 4 and 5 almost as much as I like the duology that was parts 1 and 2. The people behind these two films did a pretty decent job, overall.

Film Review: Halloween II (1981)

Release Date: October 30th, 1981
Directed by: Rick Rosenthal
Written by: John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Music by: John Carpenter, Alan Howarth
Cast: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Charles Cyphers, Lance Guest

De Laurentiis Entertainment, Debra Hill Productions, Universal Pictures, 91 Minutes

Review:

“He was my patient for fifteen years. He became an obsession with me until I realized that there was nothing within him, neither conscious nor reason that was… even remotely human. An hour ago I stood up and fired six shots into him and then he just got up and walked away. I am talking about the real possibility that he is still out there!” – Dr. Loomis

Picking up immediately where the first film left off, Halloween II is a perfect continuation of Halloween, In fact, although I am in the minority, I like it a bit better than the first, even though they are both pretty much on par, as far as quality.

In this film, Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode is carted off to the hospital after she has been stabbed by Michael Myers in the previous film. She is sedated and put into immediate danger because of that. Lance Guest a.k.a. the Last Starfighter a.k.a. the last guy to kill Jaws is a paramedic that develops a crush on her and vows to keep her safe.

Donald Pleasence returns as Dr. Sam Loomis and he is still on the hunt for Myers and has pretty much gone batshit crazy, at this point. I love Loomis’ insanity in this, even though he is supposed to be a psychologist and there is no way the cops would let this crazed madman run around town on Halloween with a loaded gun, which does actually lead to a teen being killed (in the most awesome way possible) and Loomis still packing heat.

The hospital setting is a good twist on the story and it takes it out of the typical suburban setting that slasher films always seem to take place in, if not at a summer camp. Besides, the place was practically empty (not sure why but who cares?) and it allowed the staff to do that sex stuff that always gets characters snuffed out in a proper slasher pic.

Michael Myers went on to show that he is even more indestructible than the ending of the first film implied. It also expanded the cool Halloween mythos, which I like in the original film series even if a lot of fans prefer the completely random seeming killing spree of this film’s predecessor. It is also really damn cool that this is literally the same night as the first movie.

Curtis is heralded as a scream queen and one of the best and she certainly gets her screams in here. She is more of a damsel in distress, once again, but at least in her later appearances in the film series, even though those films are shit, she grew some iron balls and took on Michael head on.

This film doesn’t build suspense as well as the first but it ups the gore quite a bit, which isn’t a bad thing in these types of pictures. The gore level certainly isn’t something that just takes over the film and makes it a pointless blood feast. Everything still works in this outing.

While Jamie Lee Curtis would leave the franchise for 17 years after this chapter, it was a good use of her character and helped develop where things would go when Michael Myers would return in Halloween IV. He skipped out on Halloween III because that film, an awesome picture, was its own unrelated story.

Film Review: Halloween (1978)

Release Date: October 25th, 1978
Directed by: John Carpenter
Written by: John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Music by: John Carpenter
Cast: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, P.J. Soles, Nancy Loomis, Charles Cyphers

Compass International, Falcon Productions, Debra Hill Productions, 91 Minutes

Review:

“I met him, fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left; no reason, no conscience, no understanding; and even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes… the devil’s eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply… evil.” – Dr. Loomis

I’m not a massive fan of Halloween, the original film, as most people are. While I have loved slasher movies since I was a kid, and while I love the Halloween franchise, as a whole, my first real love in horror was Freddy Krueger and A Nightmare On Elm Street, followed by Jason Voorhees and Friday the 13th.

In debates, hardcore Michael Myers fans always want to point out that he came first. Yes, he did debut before Freddy and Jason. But despite the public consensus, Myers was not the first slasher. He may have popularized the genre but Halloween wasn’t anything new, even in 1978. There was Black Christmas, a nice little slasher from Canada that came out in 1974 and was actually a better movie, in my opinion. The Italians, specifically Mario Bava and Dario Argento, were also making giallo films for well over a decade before Halloween and those were the prototype for the slasher pictures of the 70s and 80s.

Not to take anything away from the greatness of Halloween but it was hardly original. Although, it may have been a lot cooler, due to the look of Michael Myers, and that’s what made it a cultural phenomenon that people still embrace four decades later.

By slasher standards, however, Halloween really isn’t that good. I’m sorry but there are a lot better films in the genre. Most of the stuff that happens to build suspense is completely nonsensical and goofy when not seen through nostalgic goggles.

The thing that saves this film are the elements that work for it. Primarily, Donald Pleasenca as Dr. Loomis and “The Shape” a.k.a. Michael Myers are the real glue of this picture.

The film also benefits from its look, which is a testament to how talented John Carpenter was behind the camera. He captured mood and tone in just the right way. He also enhanced this picture with one of the most famous scores in horror film history. His theme for the film is still creepy as hell and will never not be included on people’s Halloween playlists for the rest of time.

Jamie Lee Curtis got her real start in this film but even though the character of Laurie Strode is highly regarded as a supreme scream queen, she doesn’t do much other than stab Myers in the eye with a coat hanger. She’s mostly a damsel in distress and only defends herself with animal instinct once she is cornered and completely exposed to the killer. She certainly wasn’t anything like the badass Nancy was from A Nightmare On Elm Street or some of the leading ladies from the Friday the 13th films.

I don’t want to sound like I am trashing Halloween, I do truly love the film. I just kind of see it for what it is. It was significant and popularized slasher films in the United States. It also doesn’t hurt that it is simply called Halloween.

I’m also that asshole that thinks that Halloween III, the one without Michael Myers, is far superior to any of the Myers films for the fact that it is truly horrific, original, bizarre and just a ball of wacky insanity. Plus it has Tom f’n Atkins in it.

Film Review: The Pumaman (1980)

Also known as: L’uomo puma (Italy)
Release Date: February 14th, 1980
Directed by: Alberto De Martino
Written by: Alberto De Martino, Massimo De Rita, Luigi Angelo
Music by: Renato Serio
Cast: Walter George Alton, Donald Pleasence, Miguel Angel Fuentes, Sydne Rome

Saber Productions, Bryanston Distributors, 88 Minutes

pumamanReview:

What a strange and weird movie The Pumaman is.

Made by Italian director Alberto De Martino, the film is a 1980 superhero action film. It plays more like the pilot of a bad television show from that era. A show that would have never been picked up.

While the Italians could do a lot with very little resources, something as ambitious as this, couldn’t keep up with the special effects it needed. It was more ambitious than it was able to be and thus, we get an incredibly cheesy comedic romp. The picture is lighthearted and is meant to draw some laughs but in the case of The Pumaman, audiences will laugh for the wrong reasons.

It also doesn’t help that the plot is way too busy with all sorts of strange ideas. It is convoluted and frankly, an epic mess. You have aliens, Aztec mysticism, a mad scientist with a brainwashing mask and several ancient cultures overlapping in a way that just doesn’t add up. The whole premise of the film is confusing, as is the motivation of the characters in it.

For example, the hulking Aztec sidekick dumps the hero out of a window from high above ground just to see if he is the Pumaman. Then he’s all of a sudden a gentle giant who doesn’t come across as someone who would just dump people out of high windows looking for the chosen one.

The Pumaman costume is awful. It is pretty much khaki pants, a brown sweater with an Aztec emblem and a red pimp cape. The hero also doesn’t make any effort to conceal his identity.

Furthermore, his powers are all just kind of random. It feels like the character was just written in whatever way served to move the messy plot forward. In one scene, he walks through a wall which jump cuts to him sitting in a car. Did he teleport? Was something cut out? Who the hell knows. Don’t even get me started on how bad the flying sequences are.

There are two positives however.

The first is Sydne Rome. She is gorgeous. The type of gorgeous that is otherworldly. But that is really all she brings to the table.

The second is Donald Pleasence. He plays the villain and even though this is one of many bad films he found himself in throughout his long career, he is committed to the role regardless of how ridiculous his lines are or how stupid the situations are that he finds himself in. Pleasence is still great though in that Donald Pleasence sort of way. He is like Halloween‘s Dr. Loomis turned mad, dressed like a BDSM dungeon master and has a giant gold mask that makes gorgeous women do his bidding.

Oddly, the film has some charm and is enjoyable, even if it is stupendously hammy and a chaotic tapestry of baffling clutter.

And, like many films of this quality, you can watch it get riffed on Mystery Science Theater 3000. I’d suggest watching that version.

Film Review: Prince of Darkness (1987)

Release Date: October 23rd, 1987
Directed by: John Carpenter
Written by: John Carpenter
Music by: John Carpenter, Alan Howarth
Cast: Donald Pleasence, Lisa Blount, Victor Wong, Jameson Parker, Alice Cooper

Alive Films, Carolco Pictures, Larry Franco Productions, Universal Pictures, 101 Minutes

prince_of_darknessReview:

This film came out in the middle of John Carpenter’s heyday. It was also the middle part of the loose trilogy he refers to as the Apocalypse Trilogy, which includes The Thing, this film and In The Mouth of Madness. All films are separate films but they follow a similar tone and a very stark “end of the world” vibe.

Prince of Darkness is an unsettling film and visually, one of the most striking in Carpenter’s pretty illustrious catalog. Other than The Thing, I find this film to be the most terrifying in his portfolio.

You never really know what is going on in this film but in a nutshell, the devil is coming back to Earth and the students trying to work on a strange science project, are being used as the vessel’s to bring forth his return. There is a mysterious cylinder of churning green liquid that works as the catalyst to propel the evil forward, there are zombie like hobos who have trapped the students inside the evil church with the green liquid, there are demon bugs, possessed characters and some pretty disturbing visuals. This film has made me fearful of someone spitting water in my face.

This is some of John Carpenter’s best work and one of my favorite horror films from the 80s. One can’t watch this movie for the first time and not feel uncomfortable. Even to this day, as many times as I have watched it, there are certain things in this film that still hit certain triggers that I had when seeing it for the first time when I was eleven or twelve.

I love this movie for what it is and how well it was executed. It has one of Carpenter’s best film scores and is one of the most original and intriguing movies he has made. The only thing really to fear though, is knowing that some schmuck will remake this someday.