Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers - Producer's Cut (1995)

The fall of 1995 saw the newest tale of everyone's favorite William Shatner masked killer, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. The first in the franchise to not officially have the number sequel attached to it. I remember going into the film my expectations were already low, but man this was beyond bad. So many questions were left to answer from the previous Halloween film. Who was the Man in Black? What is the deal with the Thorn Tattoo? What happened to Michael's niece Jamie? While some of these were addressed the Theatrical Cut of Halloween 6 is filled with so many ludicrous plot holes & twists, there is no way to comprehend what is happening. So what exactly went wrong?

The story has it that after several poor test screenings of the original work print, Director Joe Chappelle wanted to add new features to the film. Such things included a different ending, more graphic death scenes and flashy editing. Writer Daniel Farrands agreed that the film needed more but thought along the lines of adding more suspense to make it feel like the first Halloween film. Well Chappelle got his wish and the ending result on screen was a jumbled mess of incoherentness.

Which brings us to the original print, the long sought-after Producer's Cut. A favorite among bootleggers, convention goers and fan boys everywhere. Gone is all of the MTV-style editing that ran so prominent through the entire Theatrical Cut. The musical score of the film is entirely different. The ongoing character of Jamie Lloyd (Played by J.C. Brandy in this installment) was actually given some depth in the Producer's Cut. Her character is used to push the story along, as opposed to being killed off in the opening of the Theatrical. The same can be said about the great Donald Pleasence's character Dr. Loomis. The only actor to appear in every Halloween film to that point (excluding Pt. 3), Dr. Loomis had a much bigger and more important role here. Including the original prologue to the film. Unfortunately due to the untimely passing of Pleasence in February of '95, production had already rushed back into re-filming. Many of Pleasence's scenes were either left on the cutting room floor or rewritten. The new intro for the film came from another regular series character Tommy Doyle (Played by Paul Rudd).

To say that the story in the Producer's Cut runs smoother would be understatement. It's almost unfair at how much better this version is. This is not exclusive to but most notably in the final act of the film.

In the Theatrical, The Man in Black reveals himself to be Dr. Wynn from the first Halloween film. Alas he is the leader of a group known as the 'Cult of Thorn'. They watch over Michael and are able to control him. After a showdown with Tommy and Dr. Loomis, The cult and Michael take Kara & Danny Strode (relatives of Laurie Strode - Jamie Lee Curtis) and young baby Steven to an abandoned sanitarium. Steven is the son of Jamie and though it is never made clear, it is implied that Michael is the father of the child. To add insult to injury it turns out that the Cult of Thorn were just a bunch of wacky doctors. Thus throwing out anything supernatural about them implied earlier in the film. Back at the sanitarium, there are random shots of fetuses in jars and other experimental things that you would never expect to see in a Halloween film. This just adds to the entire 'WTF' factor of the Theatrical Cut. Michael ends up slaughtering the entire group of minions, though Dr. Wynn's fate is never revealed. Tommy & Dr. Loomis are of course there to save the others from peril, and it is Tommy who end's Michael's reign of terror by bludgeoning him to death with a a lead pipe. Everyone escapes from the sanitarium except for Loomis who goes back inside, only to find that Michael's body is gone. Roll credits.

In the Producer's Cut, the supernatural theme of the film stays in tact throughout. After the reveal of Wynn as the Man in Black to Dr. Loomis, Wynn tell him that he is going to pass his duties onto him. Loomis's character is knocked unconscious and dragged off screen. Unlike the other version, the Cult of Thorn are indeed that..a cult. They have cloaks and everything because apparently that's a requirement if your going to be in one. The cult wants to turn Danny Strode into an unstoppable killer just like Michael and to do this they must perform a human sacrifice on Kara. Tommy shows up to save everyone and hold's Wynn at knife point. This is after the official reveal that Michael is the father of young Steven. While Tommy and the others rush to get out of the building, Michael leads the chase behind them. Now why none of this was used in the final cut is a mystery to all. To stop Michael, Tommy lays down some magic runes in a circle that sedate Michael dead in his tracks. There is no beating anyone with a pipe, Michael's lifeless body is left standing in the middle of the circle. Everyone except for Dr. Loomis escape and drive off into the night. Before Loomis heads back inside to see Michael one last time, there is a short scene where Wynn comes across Michael standing admist the runes. Back inside the sanitarium as Loomis approaches Michael's body, which is now laying on the ground, he takes off his mask to reveal it's Dr. Wynn. Wynn grabs Loomis's hand, exchanges some hocus pocus sorta spell, and with that he has passed on his duties as Michael's caretaker. Loomis looks on in horror, as Michael slowly walks away in a black trench coat.

Now I can't say that I'm a fan of the whole magic-thorn-ancient curse plot. But at least the Producer's Cut finishes what was already started. Besides who throws out a film's plot three quarters of a way through. It felt as though the ones responsible for all the changes made in the Theatrical Cut thought no one would notice such things, if they just include more killing and gore.

There has been news and rumors over the years about an official DVD release of the Producer's Cut, but that still has yet to happen. So for now it remains a hot commodity, a staple for anyone that wishes to see what Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers was intended to be.

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