Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers

Although this is the sixth film in the series, it is the first not to have the number in the title (some of the home video releases do call it Halloween 6). This was done so that when you put them on your shelf, you have to look closely at the production date to figure out which order to place them. You don’t shelve your movies by category, sub-category, production dates, etc.? Oh, well. I have a touch of CDO, which is OCD but with the letters alphabetized, they way they should be.

It’s six years after the events of Halloween 5, and a strange cult attends a young woman giving birth. When the baby is born, it is taken by the Man in Black from the preceding film for a ritual involving painting a rune on its stomach. With the help of a sympathetic nurse, the girl escapes and takes the baby, only to be pursued by Michael Myers. We eventually learn the girl is little Jamie from the preceding two films, that she was kidnapped along with Michael, and that apparently the cult has been breeding her with her uncle Michael. (May I say: Ewwww!) She heads back to Haddonfield, with Michael on her trail.

Back in good ol’ Haddonfield, there isn’t any of the Myers family left, but relatives of the Strodes, Laurie Strodes’ adoptive family, are now living in the old Myers house. That’s convoluted. Meanwhile, next door, there is a boarding house where Tommy (Paul Rudd, in his first film), the little boy Laurie baby-sat back in the first film, now lives. Tommy has grown up to be a little weird, which is understandable, and is watching the Myers’ house for the inevitable return of MM.

It seems that Michael is as Michael is because of the ancient Curse of Thorn, which causes one person in the village to become a mad killer so that…something or other. The cultists want the curse to be passed from Michael to his son/grand-nephew because…they just do, that’s all. Michael kills everyone he meets, Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) shows up once again to save the day, the Man in Black is revealed to be anti-climactic, and there is another open-ended ending.

By this point, the series had degenerated into a twisted mess. The production was famously complicated, and delayed by various lawsuits. Endless re-writes and changes meant the “Curse of Thorn” angle which is the main plot point of the early part of the film disappears at the end, and the cult is revealed to be doing genetic experiments instead, for some unknown reason. There are several bootleg alternate versions of the film floating around, and many claim they are better. They would almost have to be.

Casting was a problem. Danielle Harris was willing to come back, but producers supposedly wouldn’t meet her salary demands, which were for the amazingly low price of $5000, which shows how seriously the production company took the project. The producers wanted to bring back the actor who played Tommy in the original, but apparently couldn’t find him, although I doubt they put that much effort into it. Instead Paul Rudd got his first part. I’ve never been a fan of Rudd, and feel he is the opposite of charismatic, but he doesn’t do a bad job here as the damaged-to-the-point-of-weirdness Tommy. Donald Pleasance has been the heart and soul of the series to this point, but here he seems old and weak, and with good reason, as the legendary actor would pass away before the film was released.

The movie was savaged by critics, and with good reason. It also opened on the same weekend as Se7en, which was a much more sophisticated look at a serial killer movie, and suffered in comparison. Despite this, the sixth installment of the franchise did surprisingly good business, drawing a box office about three times its production budget. Thank Thorn they saved that five grand.

Oh, and everyone still mispronounces “Samhain.”

By the end of Curse, it was difficult to see where the franchise could go. The last two installments had strangled themselves trying to create an overly complicated mythology, and it was going to be hard to continue the story and deal with the sometimes contradictory subplots that had been created. Not to worry, though, this would be dealt with by retconning the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth movies out of existence. The next movie would pretend nothing had happened in the story since Halloween II.

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