Wednesday, October 28, 2015

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

Ah, yes, Michael Myers. That's a name that has become an inescapable horror staple, alongside other famous horror figures. Myers has become as famous a figure as the classic monsters. And, just like the classic monsters, he's had some shitty movies made featuring him. The popular choice for one to review would probably be the Rob Zombie directed remakes, as I have already spoken in regards to my hatred for them. But no, not this year. Instead we're going to talk about the film that many fans tried to forget.

Okay, so maybe it's not the only one we want to forget.

I've been sitting here on this one all month and I decided it deserved the special treatment. Today we're going to talk about The Curse of Michael Myers, a film that had so many problems in its development and filming that the subtitle was actually meant to be a joke about the hell everyone was going through to get it made. It had so many rewrites, cuts, edits, and reshoots that the end product was so far removed from the original film it was meant to be. For years, an alternate cut of the film put together by fans, dubbed "The Producer's Cut", circulated around though. This version of the film was actually made by taking all the originally planned material that the director removed and reinserting a great deal of it back in so that the film made more sense and was less of a trainwreck. Joe Chappelle actually cut most of Donald Pleasence's performance as Dr. Loomis from the film in the theatrical cut, meaning that the true star of the film was barely in it. This was done because Chappelle claimed he found him to be boring.

Chappelle can kiss the darkest part of my ass. You can quote me on that.
This was especially offensive to Pleasence and his family, as this was actually the actor's final role and the majority of his performance was left on the cutting room floor. As a fan of the character of Loomis and the series, I became so angry upon learning this that I actually hurt my hand when I drew a crude effigy of the director and punched it on the ground. I'd show it to you but after hurting myself, I ripped it up in frustration, then I had tacos. Tacos make everything better. Pleasence deserved better than that and so did the fans. Out of the fiasco that was this film came the lowest reviews ever in the series. Even now it holds the lowest rating on Rotten Tomatoes of any film in the series. Yes, it's even rated lower than the one where Busta Rhymes tries to kung fu Michael to death.

Michael surviving an explosion & growing his eyes back after getting shot in the eyes is more believable that this.
But, last year fans finally got their wish when the Halloween box set came out, as it included an official release of the Producer's Cut of the film. I tried to procure a copy, but couldn't and cannot afford to now. That's a shame too, as the set's copy of the film is loaded with extras. Me, I had to wait for the single release which has absolutely no extras. This meant that to properly talk about this film, I had to be willing to pay full price for a Blu-Ray that feels like it belongs in a budget bin with a lot of the other things I cover. Go me.

Honestly, that's still charging too much for most of these.
Now, since I haven't gone over the previous two films in this series, let's do a bit of explaining. Laurie Strode is dead...possibly. It's hard to tell if the later Halloween films ignore 4-6 or if we're just meant to believe that Laurie is a horrible mother who abandoned her daughter to go have another kid later on. Anywho, she left behind a daughter named Jamie Lloyd who Michael spent two movies attempting to kill before the start of this one. Here we see that both Jamie and Michael were taken by a cult and their mysterious black garbed leader. Fast forward to adulthood, we see Jamie's preggers and she's about to pop out a bundle of joy. Upon giving birth, the leader takes her baby and leaves her. But one of the nurses has a change of heart and brings her son to her so she can escape. She leads her to the exit and then stays behind to be the first kill of the movie.

Someone had to. Michael gets antsy if he isn't killing something.
After impaling her on the conveniently placed spike on the wall, Michael pursues Jamie as she escapes in a pick-up truck whose owner gets some hands-on attention from Uncle Mike. Jamie gets to a bus station where she tries to seek help from emergency services, but it doesn't work out. Instead she decides to call the radio station that is currently playing through the speakers in the hopes that the asshole DJ will get her help. He doesn't, because he's an asshole. She manages to escape again though and is pursued to a barn where Michael stabs her and it's revealed that she managed to hide the baby from him.

That's right, you've been foiled again, Michael!
Dr. Loomis and his friend Dr. Terence Wynn hear her pleas for help over the radio and Loomis knows he's got to go after Michael, begging his friend to help him. And they're not the only ones listening, as Tommy Doyle, the kid Laurie babysat in the first film, is looking to put down Michael too after the bastard ruined his ability to ever go trick or treating again. That's not really why, but I like my idea better. All arrows are pointing towards Haddonfield, as it's clear that is where Michael will be heading next. This isn't good for the people living in his house, the Strodes. Yes, members of the same family that adopted his little sister are now living in his house. The head of the family, John, is a right bastard too. He basically every asshole movie dad rolled into one. Kara, his daughter, calls him out on what dick he is after her insults her and her son, then the old prick smacks her because the audience needed more reasons to dislike him.

Really though, he's just got one of those faces you can't help but want to punch. Or stab, as is often the case with our titular character.
Now bear with me, as I will probably get the order wrong on some of these events, as I did just watch two different versions of this film back to back. While she dies at his hands in the theatrical cut, here Jamie actually survives being stabbed and is taken to the hospital where Loomis and Wynn follow. While that's occurring, Tommy figures out where the baby is and brings it with him as he lays out his information for Loomis before heading back to his boarding house. Yeah, I should talk about that. See, Tommy has taken residence across from the Strode/Myers house so he can watch for bad shit to go down. He's also done tons of research on that cult from earlier and on runes. Apparently Michael is being forced to kill for the cult due to a run on his wrist. And the cult leader has been talking to Kara Strode's son, Danny, mentally to try and lead him towards being Michael's replacement after Mike offs the baby.

Don't worry, if it sounds convoluted, that's only because it is.
So, the killer who has previously been known to kill just because he's pure evil through and through is now being illustrated as a victim of a cult who has no control over himself because they gave him the mark of Thorn. I'm not sure I like that idea, but okay, let's run with it. Loomis tries to warn the Strodes to leave, which works as the mother almost gets out of the house with a packed suitcase. But Michael isn't having any of that as he murders the shit out of her. The only solace is that later he also murders the shit out of John, who is the dickhead that moved his family into a serial killer's house. Tommy ends up getting Kara and Danny to come to his place where he explains everything. Surprisingly, she's rather receptive to it.

If only audiences were as receptive to the movie and Paul Rudd's Pinocchio style acting.
Downtown, Kara's brother and his girlfriend have organized a thing with the shitty DJ from earlier as they are calling for Halloween to be unbanned in Haddonfield. This basically results in them seeing that the DJ is a huge shithead and Tommy lurks about looking for Loomis, who is supposed to meet him there. If you're curious about the previous lead from the last two films, well, Jamie is still laid up in the hospital and is having flashbacks to her time being held by the cult. It's here where we get to see that the father of her baby was...her uncle. Michael Myers fucked his niece.

There are no words.
After that wonderful revelation, the cult leader appears in her room and shoots her with a silenced pistol. Again, the order of these events is likely not exactly right, but I'm doing my best to remember how to breathe after gagging over the aforementioned Michael having a baby with his NIECE. Rape and incest all in one whack. Thanks, movie, I've met my quota for horrible things popping up out of nowhere. Back to the Halloween night thing, the DJ learns about the Strodes living in the Myers house, says he's going there, wanders off and gets into Michael's van, then he dies and I applaud. I'm less ecstatic when Kara's brother and his girlfriend get killed off at the house though. But don't worry, something stupid happens that distracts me from having to feel bad, as a little girl sings a song about it raining red and then is shocked when it turns out to be blood.

To hell with Laurie Strode, the next movie should've been a bout this girl growing up to murder people while singing.
Loomis shows up, they go back to Tommy's house in time for Kara to have followed her hypnotized son across the street, found her dead family, fought off Michael, and run back there to beat on the door as he pursues them. They then realize that the baby is missing and the Danny is sitting in the living room with the cult leader, Dr. Wynn. You know, Dr. Loomis' BFF? The guy who has been hanging with him all the time through this movie and apparently has magical teleporting powers? Yeah, he's the cult leader.

"What a tweest!"
The cult shows up, the old lady who owns the house is one of them and has the baby, Kara and Danny get taken away, and Loomis & Tommy both end up drugged. How do I know they were drugged when they don't show it happening? Because they say they were drugged rather than let the events happen on screen where the audience can actually absorb the information through common sense and reasoning. They head off to the cult's hideout at the mental hospital and we see that Kara figures out that Mikey did the deed with family, as he's hesitant about killing the baby. Not sure how that automatically means it's his kid, lady, as he could just be hesitant to kill a baby regardless of parentage. We haven't actually seen him do-in any toddlers previously. No, all we saw was him doing his niece. That is going to haunt me every single time I watch a Halloween film now.

And guess what? He IMPALES her in both versions! Hahahahaha..ha...oh fuck, this is hurting my soul.
This momentary hesitation allows our heroes to come in and save them as they dash off to get out of there. Tommy uses runes to counteract control of the mark of Thorn, setting Michael free of the cult's influence, and Tommy then leaves with Kara and the kids. Loomis stays behind, saying he has unfinished business as he returns to find Michael on the ground after Terence had just finished shaking him. But wait, removal of the mask reveals its actually Terence under there! Yes, Michael switched clothes and left. Loomis doesn't get so lucky though as Wynn grabs him and places the mark of Thorn on him, implying that he'll now carry on the cult's ways. But he doesn't, because this is the last film in this continuity. It's kind of a shame too, as I think the idea of Michael Myers trying to save people from the cult might've been interesting. Not great, but at least it would've been something different that didn't involve Laurie Strode being a terrible mother.

"Hey, mom. Thanks for leaving me alone. Uncle Mike raped me and tried repeatedly to kill me. We had a kid. Happy Mother's Day."
Now, having sat and watched both versions of this film, I do have to agree that the Producer's Cut is the superior film. It has a more coherent plot, more of Donald Pleasence killing it as the badass old doctor who refuses to stop his patient, and we actually get a lot more Michael on screen in general. In the theatircal release, the cult plot basically gets abandoned at the end as Michael just starts killing everyone and Tommy injects him with acid. Not only that, Loomis is implied to die off-screen, adding that to the long list of insults to Pleasence and his excellent performance as the doctor. Looking at both, I just don't get what Chappelle was thinking, as the film he released was a confused mess of a movie. The major negative in both versions though is that Paul Rudd really wasn't good in here. It's early in his career and it shows.

"You mean they cut most of my scenes and filmed more for you? Death shall be a welcome escape from this lunacy!"
I don't want to say this is really bad film, as it isn't that bad compared to other entries in the series. In all honesty, I think it fits the tone of the original film better than most of them. The cult plot is silly and really only exists for the same reason Rob Zombie's "everyone's a bastard" remake plot exists: to explain why Michael kills. While I really dislike the idea of trying to create a reason for him to be evil, I prefer this one as it is a different idea that opens up new possibilities. It's just a shame that the theatrical cut threw away all of this in favour of yet another by-the-numbers slasher film that most people outright hate. If you want to check it out, watch the Producer's Cut. And if you want to see a more entertaining review of this film, go check out Phelous' review. It's where I got the upset Michael gif from. That's really all I've got to say. So, until Michael Myers gets his own television show where he's tracking down cultists to put the stabby-stabs to, I'll be here wishing I could afford that box set because it would keep me from having to buy the single releases of Rob Zombie's trash remakes. Later days, bleeders.

And then he wandered the Capital Wasteland as the Mysterious Stranger...

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