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Oh boy, so it’s come to this? The appropriate reaction upon finishing a viewing of Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers is something akin to screaming, “What the hell was that?!?!?” The film is a complete mess and nothing about it makes any sense at all. Six years had passed since the release of Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, which met a cool reception from critics and audiences alike, becoming the lowest grossing Halloween to that point. The one-year turnaround of the project turned out to be a detriment for the series popularity as producer, Mustapha Akkad, had misjudged the market for more Michael Myers action so soon. This resulted in the series being put on the shelf for a recalibration. During that time, Miramax bought the rights to the series as they wanted to increase their horror output through their Dimension Films division. Upon multiple false starts for the project, the powers that be hired a young screenwriter/series-fan named Daniel Farrands to pen the script. Joe Chappelle was brought on as director and the rest is history, or not.
The plot picks up six years after the end of Halloween 5, which had left viewers pondering the fates of characters Jamie Lloyd and Michael Myers after the end prison massacre committed by the Man in Black. Since then, they have both been under the watchful eye of some sort of cult, led by the Man in Black himself. Young Jamie has now grown into a teenager, and the film opens with her giving birth. A dissenting cult member/nurse feels sympathetic and helps Jamie escape with her child in tow. Uncle Michael arrives, kills the cult member/nurse, and gives chase to Jamie and the child who have escaped via vehicle. She arrives at a rest stop and uses a payphone to call in to a radio station that is covering the Myers murders. Whilst on the air, she pleads for help to Dr. Loomis and anybody else who might care. Michael is close behind though so she gets back in her vehicle and takes off. This is for naught, as Michael causes her to crash into a barn off the side of the road, and there he viciously murders her via farm machinery. It’s then revealed that she hid the baby by leaving it at the rest stop. It’s Michael’s mission to find the baby and kill off his bloodline once and for all.
Fortunately for the baby, soon to be named Steven, Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) actually was listening to that radio station when Jamie called along with returning character Tommy Doyle (some guy named Paul Stephen Rudd). The child gets rescued by Tommy, who has become obsessed with Michael Myers in the years since the original Halloween. He teams up with Loomis to protect the child and to stop Michael at all costs since they know Jamie being murdered is no mere coincidence.
Tommy keeps the child in a room he has rented across from the old Myers house. The house has been restored and is newly occupied by the constantly fighting Strode family, cousins to Laurie, whom Tommy also keeps watch over out of fear of them getting murdered by Michael. Plus, he’s a bit of a creep, very much indicated from when he watches through binoculars as the lead Strode character, Kara, undresses in her room. In his downtime, aside from being a peeping tom, Tommy has a unique hobby where he is attempting to trace the origins of Michael’s power. This leads him to an ancient Celtic rune called Thorn, which is worshiped by a cult. Meanwhile, Kara’s son has started to hear voices telling him to kill his family, perhaps indicating a Myers-like future for him.
If that seems like a lot of plot just to set up the story, it’s because it is. The script has too many ideas going on in the short time it has to tell the story. There are also too many references and unnecessary connections to previous entries, such as Tommy Doyle and the Strode family, who could have honestly been named anything else and it would not have made any difference. It’s no surprise that the script is as messy as it is because the series had now become victim to a practice known as “studio meddling”. Farrands was forced to alter his story drastically through numerous versions of the script to appeal to a broader audience (aka teenage boys).
Halloween 6 has a bit of an identity issue: on one hand Farrands attempted to craft a tale that would tie the entire series together and give the answers to the questions raised by Halloween 5, but on the other it also feels like a reboot. The problem is there was too much baggage left by the previous entry, and Miramax simply did not have any interest in carrying on with the characters of previous installments. This is why it was decided that the character of Jamie Lloyd would be killed off quickly and for Dr. Loomis to be relegated to a glorified cameo. Unfortunately, for the creators involved, Halloween 6’s problems exist on a greater scale than screenplay issues.
Once filming had wrapped, an early test screening was held for an audience that was largely made up of teenage boys. The screening was an apparent disaster, and Miramax panicked. It was decided that reshoots would take place as well as the film being overhauled from top to bottom. Pleasance had unfortunately passed away by this point, so during reshoots the writers had to work around his character’s absence. The amount of footage that was cut or altered was drastic and resulted in a very different film. The intent was to now cater to the type of audience that had panned the initial test screening, so the film changed focus to include more gore, more murders, and a faster style.
Thanks to these modifications, the tone jumps around quite often: one minute attempting to channel the atmosphere of the original and then switching to an edgy, music video style the next. Of all of the bad filmmaking going on here, the worst offender is in the editing. The editing makes the story even more incomprehensible and makes use of flash cuts, complete with strobe lighting, that are more likely to send the viewer into an epileptic fit than feel scared. The music shifts between a piano driven score to hard rock which sounds like an Eric Draven knockoff from The Crow improvising on guitar. Loud jump scares have been edited into the picture whenever possible and has the effect of numbing the viewer early on to the constant haunted house scare approach. The editing and music cues drain any atmosphere the film attempts to build. Some character arcs and plot developments drop randomly and don’t get explained, all for the purpose of extra death scenes.
As for the quality of the actors, it’s hard to discern them from the film’s awful elements. Rudd puts in the weirdest performance as Tommy Doyle. He’s honestly all over the place with some scenes coming across as a soulless robot to others where he looks like he’s seconds from cracking up. Stuntman George Wilbur returns to the role of Michael Myers after being replaced in Halloween 5. Just like his performance in Halloween 4, he might as well be another Jason Voorhees clone. Wilbur was also a victim to the reshoots as he was replaced for the third act, in which the studio requested a slimmer Michael. Aside from the change in width, the differences between the performances are negligible. On the flip-side, at least the mask looks half-decent this time with the best mask design since the original was last seen in Halloween II. Danielle Harris was passed over in returning to the character of Jamie Lloyd, but with how that character gets treated it was probably a good thing. Pleasance is just kind of there in his scenes, but he wasn’t given much to work with. Director Joe Chappelle allegedly was not much of a fan. Frankly, Pleasance deserved better; especially at the end of his career.
As for any positives, there’s one small subplot where Haddonfield has banned celebrating Halloween because of the events from previous series installments. As a result, a group of townsfolk band together to bring the holiday back and leave the murders in the past. It’s a very small part of the film, but it’s sort of an interesting idea, I guess. Aside from that, there are some occasional shots of Michael that remind the viewer they are watching a Halloween movie. These also could have been happy accidents by judging the rest of the film’s quality. Also, there are some neat gore effects that are somewhat entertaining to watch in a “this movie is awful, please do something to make time go faster” sort of way.
The last act of the film is somehow worse than the previous two, especially with the amount of plot inconsistencies that are created as a result. The odd, teenage focused, tonal shifts are kicked into high gear here in these end segments. The Man is Black is revealed to be a former work associate of Dr. Loomis’ named Dr. Wynn (you know, that one guy Loomis talks to in the original Halloween, because everything needs to connect), and the Cult of Thorn itself is revealed to have its headquarters stationed at Smith’s Grove where they had kept a watchful eye on Michael for all of those years he was committed. Apparently, the voice encouraging Kara’s son to kill is none other than Dr. Wynn himself, for some reason. As for Michael’s origins, we don’t learn anything that Halloween 5 didn’t already allude to, but now it’s got a name. The cult’s plan involved getting Jamie impregnated so Michael could kill the baby Steven, his last surviving family member. Doing so will appease the spirits of Samhain and protect the cult member’s families from being sacrificed. Yeah, that’s right. Who knows why Uncle Michael couldn’t just kill Jamie while she was the last surviving family member.
Kara, her son, and Steven are kidnapped by the cult while Tommy and Loomis are left alive for no real reason. It’s because the movie needs them alive to save the characters who were kidnapped, or because it’s “Dr. Wynn’s game” as Dr. Loomis mentions. Dr. Wynn decides that Halloween is over and he along with the cult members take off their robes. Michael then comes out of nowhere and murders them all in another epileptic inducing sequence. There’s some stuff about fetuses plus Tommy drugs Michael with tranquilizer and then beats him with a pipe causing him to bleed green? It’s not clear what the purpose of any of this is. Kara, her son (who isn’t going to murder anyone anymore, maybe?), and Steven get rescued and, along with Tommy, escape. Loomis decides to stay behind because he has “unfinished business” inside the sanitarium and goes to make sure Michael is dead. All that the viewer finds is a shot of Michael’s mask laying on the ground next to a syringe full of tranquilizer as Loomis’s screams are heard off-screen. The camera cuts to a jack-o-lantern and then, fin.
It’s not really clear at what point the concept of structure or comprehension was abandoned, but perhaps the film works as a fever dream or hallucination? In all seriousness, this is as bad as slasher sequels get, and it’s seriously doubtful that any teenage boys are going to lose their minds over this kind of tripe. Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers is an infuriating, confusing film experience, and it’s a miracle this series was ever able to recover. Well, at least that experience is over and there is no need to ever revisit Halloween 6 again. Right? Right?? Right?!?!? (Psst… check back tomorrow.)