By: Garrett Collins
Note: This is a review of the theatrical release version of the film. I do have the infamous Producer’s Cut, and toyed with the idea of reviewing them separately. But what I decided is not only does the 43 minutes added to that version not enhance the experience the original version gives, THIS is the version of the film most people have seen. As a result, I decided to just review this.
Starring: Donald Pleasence, Marianne Hagan, Mitch Ryan, J.C. Brandy, and Paul Rudd.
In a lot of ways, I feel bad for the makers of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. One, the film was to come out at the tail end of 1995. We were still one year away from Scream reinvigorating the horror genre. The Halloween franchise, which saw this installment come out six years following the box office failure of Halloween 5, was hanging on to its audience by a thread. The producers of this film –who flirted with calling this installment part 666 in its ad campaign- decided to drop the numbers altogether for this one. And rightly so, because Michael had become a little long in the tooth at this point. Finally, screenwriter Daniel Farrands was stuck tying the loose ends left untied in the installment before, which began an arc designed to describe WHY main villain Michael Myers is as evil as he is. Of course, all Farrands had to work with was a barely seen man in black, as well as the brief glimpse at an evil Thorn symbol tattooed on the inside of Michael’s wrist. After landing the job, Farrands went on to write what has come to be the most controversial script of the series and what we are left with is perhaps the most uneven and off-putting installment of the entire franchise.
Let’s start with what has been the strength of every Halloween film –yes, even that circus known as the third installment- up to this point. For some reason, once again returning composer decided to this time infuse his musical sounds with rhythm guitars instead of the melodic piano sounds from before. This was a very unfortunate decision, because even in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers’ good moments –and there aren’t many- we are stuck with this guitar laden soft imitation of what came before. Though, I could say that the previous sentence describes this film perfectly.
From the opening credits, where we see a man in black paint a baby with the red Thorn symbol across his body (almost Superman-ish), I am left wondering to myself how the hell we got here. How did the story of innocence lost to evil refurnish itself into a badly drawn out and executed film that resembles an episode of 90s science fiction? And it doesn’t stop there. From the step father’s anger infused only for the sake of dramatic effect, to Paul Rudd’s disconcerting acting –thank goodness he had Clueless in the can because if this had come out without that fact, I doubt he would have ever acted again- to a finale that gives off a set of storytelling faux pas that scream, ‘I don’t care,’ this was a steep drop for the series to take. Even Loomis (played by an obviously ill Pleasence for the very last time) cannot add any enlightenment to the proceedings. His booming voice is gone, as are his defiant proclamations of Michael being ‘evil on two legs.’
Are there good things to be seen here? A few. I REALLY enjoyed Michael’s introductory scene in this movie. Director Joe Chappelle gets in two very well placed homages to the first film within a few frames of this one. For example, when a nurse helps Jaime (this time played by Brandy) and her baby escape a candle filled hospital, she pulls into frame, and Chappelle frames the camera much the same way Carpenter did in the first film. Just as the nurse backs up, Michael materializes behind her just like he did behind Laurie all those years ago. The result involves Michael pushing the nurse on a spike infused in the wall, and giving a head tilt that mirrors the one he did to Bob after doing something very similar in part 1. Again, great direction, and this gripping scene, combined with the very next shot of him ascending stairs while fog surrounds him, was a major high point of this film for me. As was the reveal of repugnant shock jock Barry Simms’s body as it hangs from a tree. Nevermind the fact that it would be physically impossible for Michael to set that body up there, let alone without anyone ever seeing him do so, the way a little girl tells her mom ‘it is raining red,’ and the body comes tumbling out of the tree was a very nicely done suspenseful scene.
But other than those nice touches, I am at a loss to lay this film with compliments. I was really hoping after laying off this installment for quite a while –and even interviewing screenwriter Daniel Farrands on our podcast- that I would return to it with a bit more of an open eye than before. But the truth of the matter is, as Rudd was being chased in a red colored hospital and Michael is beat to a pulp (kind of), my eyes were closing even more than when I watched 4. A film that was mishandled from the start, you would be doing yourself a huge bit of justice by just skipping Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers.
Review: Halloween – The Curse of Michael Myers