"An otherwise solid slasher effort, and it's ultimately rather difficult to understand why the film has amassed such an odious reputation in the years since its release." — Reel Film Reviews
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers is one of the most infamously despised entries of the Halloween franchise. The production was plagued from the start. Halloween 5 ended on a cliffhanger; no members of the writing team had planned what would come next. Soon, the rights to the franchise were sold to Dimension Films and they were left to clean up the mess. Writer Daniel Farrands, director Joe Chappelle and the corporate suits at Dimension Films all had different ideas about how the story should play out. Meanwhile, the series producer, Moustapha Akkad, must have been trying everything in his power to prevent the conflicting egos from destroying the franchise that he had been a part of for so long.
Rewrites were made, scenes were shuffled, and series regular Donald Pleasance died shortly after filming wrapped. This ruined the ending, as the original cut had heavily implied that Pleasance would have a major role in future installments. Once again, the movie had to be rewritten (despite being complete) and extra scenes had to be filmed to accommodate his untimely passing.
What the fans were left with was a confusing mess of a film. The inconsistent blend of the original scenes and the re-shoots left us with more questions than answers. Why has the movie built up a cult-like threat only to reveal the clan as a group of doctors and scientists attempting to create super-humans? Who is the father of Jamie's baby? This disaster of a production was so awful that many of the actors disowned the movie before it was even released.
But what of the positives? For a movie that is regarded as being so un-watchable, it is actually very strong in areas other than the confusing storyline. It has been 21 years, let us run through some of what Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers did right and finally give it the credit it deserves.
Michael Myers Is Terrifying
Forget the story. Ignore the crap that refers to Myers as a druid for a bigger cult. If we take Michael Myers on his own, this movie contains his scariest incarnation since John Carpenter first created him in 1978. On that note, for the first time since the original movie, we actually get a mask worthy of being worn by the popular slasher villain.
Myers does not carry himself like a human being, he truly feels like an evil entity. His eyes are never visible, grunts are few and far between, and to top it all off they brought back George P. Wilbur, who is intimidating even when static.
Myers is often seen just standing in the distance, watching. He does not feel like a human being wandering the town of Haddonfield. In this movie it feels more like the iconic murderer himself is the curse of the town, and you could very well see him on any street corner and through every window at night; he haunts the community. There is also a subtle detail where the reveal of Michael Myers is never met with a startling intrusion of the ears. All too often, horror relies on the art of the jump scare, but in Halloween 6, the audience is slowly exposed to Myers's presence with brooding ambience as his mask creeps out of the darkness.
His kills are also brutal. Who could forget the shot of Myers holding an axe, staring down, seconds before swinging it into Debra Strode? How about Michael entering a room full of doctors and decimating them all in a matter of seconds? This was the kind of Michael Myers we had not gotten to see before. A vicious monster with extreme proficiency combined with stealth and patience made for a perfect match in bringing The Shape into the next generation.
It Truly Captures The Feel Of Halloween
If you didn't notice the large jump in visual quality between this movie and Halloween 5, then, unfortunately, you might be due a visit to the optician. Halloween 6 arguably has the best cinematography of the entire series. The cold tone of the town washes over you with a feeling of constant dread, and you fully believe that this community is not fond of this holiday season at all. This is also a clever move of continuity. In every previous installment, the idea of going trick-or-treating was still regarded as fun, but in Halloween 6, the town is very aware that the night carries with it the threat and memory of Michael Myers, so much so that they have banned the celebration of #Halloween altogether.
Cinematographer Billy Dickson lights the movie with darkened blues and de-saturated purples for the overall tone, but throws in some deep reds and claustrophobic tightening of the frame that make the characters appear trapped and helpless throughout. Dickson also utilizes warm lighting in the office of Dr. Loomis as the series regular is now retired and at peace. Not long after the realization that Myers has returned does Loomis venture out into the eerie color scheme of the bleak.
The use of strobe lighting to match a thunderstorm reveal quick sightings of Michael Myers hiding in the shadows, and the same effect helps intensify the aforementioned scene where the masked maniac goes ballistic in a surgery room with a machete. The film does not rely fully on being creepy, however. The chase scenes are heart racing, largely thanks to the portrayal of Michael Myers and the masterful Halloween theme remaining as strong and effective as ever.
The Acting Is Actually Very Good
By #horror standards, (especially in large series, see Friday the 13th) acting is usually required to be painfully basic. All you have to do is stand there, look pretty, read some rather shoddy dialogue and then die (often after sex). Halloween 6 was attempting to tell a very different and complex story compared to the standard slasher, and as such, it required dramatic performances from the actors in order to draw the audience into that story.
Donald Pleasance was incredible as always, though most of his scenes were cut thanks to director Joe Chappelle thinking he was boring. Paul Rudd delivered a noticeably early performance of his career, but he is convincing enough as the traumatized and misunderstood Tommy Doyle. Bradford English perfects the rather cliche role of the asshole dad and Leo Geter masters the art of being intentionally unbearable with one of the series most hated characters, radio host Barry Simms.
Even the characters who exist solely to eat a blade from Myers pull something unexpected out of the hat. When an unnamed doctor stands, begging to be saved, we believe that this man is desperate, terrified and very quickly losing hope. It is just a shame that the material they were performing was doomed to be so infamously bad.
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers is a fine example of technical artistry but a poor example of storytelling, which is ironic because the series had largely succeeded due to its simplistic, accessible style. In a genre where complaints attack both the lack of originality as well as the fear of breaking formula, we can only assume that the tale of Halloween 6 was destined to fail from the very beginning.
Do you agree with the assessment? Are there any other elements to the movie that you enjoyed? Let us know in the comments section and don't forget to follow.
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