Horror-Wood Blog-a-Thon: Halloween franchise (Part 6: The Curse)
After the disappointing Halloween 5, viewers had to wait six years for another installment. Apparently, the writers crafted so many ideas for the next one but yet some complications came afoot when certain cast members like the original actress who played Jamie Lloyd wouldn’t return due to a money dispute and even during production key scenes would be dropped or re-written entirely. Apparently, this is not the first troubled sequel to do something like this. Frankenstein meets the Wolf Man had dialogue by Bela Lugosi as the Monster that got cut and Alien 3 has so many production problems that you could make a movie out of it.
Heck, there’s not one but two versions of this movie that exist. One that producer and Halloween franchise “shepard” Moustapha Akkad wanted and one that was forced to be recut by the Weinstiens who ran the Mirimax studio when the film was being made. By the time the final product was delivered, viewers would get many questions from the last entry answered and still be unsatisfied. Having not seen The Curse of Michael Meyers in theaters, I knew what to expect so there wasn’t much disappointment. At least till I saw the theatrical cut.
I’ll go into my explanations of the two cuts later but let’s take a look at the story first. It begins with J. C. Brandy as Jamie Lloyd escaping from an asylum where a cult is trying to kill off her newborn baby as a sacrifice. Michael Meyers goes after her for the child but is unsuccessful. The baby is later discovered by a grown up Tommy Doyle (Paul Rudd in his first film role) who tries to take care of the boy as he delves into his Michael Meyers research. His character in the first film was one of the original kids Laurie babysat is now traumatized by Michael to the point he is obsessed with the famed serial killer and researches a lot of stuff on him. In a way, he’s almost like the next Dr. Loomis but you tend to question his sanity at times. Many would find this creepy and unsettling but I think it works seeing there is potential for a character to be so well-resourced with an infamous killer.
Across from his house is the Strode family who weirdly decided to move into the Meyer’s house. Apparently, the explanation goes is that it wouldn’t sell and John Strode (Bradford English) secretly moved in with his wife. Its weird but I guess they needed to come up with a reason for why Michael returns to Haddonfield. Living among them are Kara Strode (Marianne Hagan) who is trying to take care of her eight-year old son Danny who has constant nightmares of the “Man In Black” and Micheal. Its basically Laurie Stode all over again as Kara fights to keep her son alive from the wraith of the infamous killer and her distant parents. I should explain that Bradford’s performance of the father John is easily disliked. He doesn’t hold back and really makes you hate his character. That’s not what I want to expect. We love to hate characters and villains alike for how fiendish they can be as opposed to how nasty and mean they act to others. It just makes us want to see them die more instead of understanding who they are.
On a bright note, Donald Pleasence returns as Dr. Loomis who is retired at first but then starts delivering his “evil is here” speech when he finds out Michael is back. The performance feels tired but that’s what you would expect from someone who has appeared in so many sequels. I should address this was his last movie as he died shortly after filming was completed and before the reshoots began. Many of the crew members said he stood to his guns no matter how aged he was and it shows. He doesn’t have much to work with but Donald is such a respected actor and never disappoints. This is the near saving grace of both versions that I’ll get into later.
Well, as said before, The Curse of Michael Meyers tries to explain that the infamous killer is under the influence of a cult which is believed to have him under the “Curse of Thorn,” which is a thorn symbol that appears in the sky and is part of a Druid inspired cult. It should also be noted this symbol is on his arm as well. What is explained is that Michael is influenced to kill by means of sacrificing his next of kin for the sake of Halloween worship. I guess it explains why he’s after his bloodline and some of his supernatural abilities but what about the other people he killed on the way. On top of that, having Michael as the pawn to a cult is just low. It removes the mystery of the murder but not in a good way like Halloween II.
Even there are some ideas here and there which seem to work but only if there were fleshed out better. Leo Geter plays Barry Simms, a trash-talking radio talk show host that tries to exploit Haddonfield and its “banning of Halloween” as well as the Michael Meyers myth. Apparently, Haddonfield stopped celebrating the holiday after its Michael kills but even that doesn’t make sense when we see trick or treaters walking about earlier in the film. You could argue they are going to other cities or celebrating it in their way but it still gets never explained. Anyway, Barry is probably one of the many entertaining characters as he plays up like a spoof of Howard Stern. He gets his “just deserts” but something doesn’t feel right. We are introduced to him by means of audio from the radio but never see him till later on. If this character was played out more, it would have been something unique. Instead, it just comes off as a moment that comes and goes.
Now, I have to talk about the two different versions and why they are so distant from each other. So if you haven’t seen any of these cuts, get ready for some big spoilers. I’m not holding back. The original cut is called “The Producer’s Cut” because it’s the one Moustapha Akkad wanted. Unfortunately, after some disastrous test screenings, major reshoots where done and even some drastic editing was made to “salvage” the film in any shape or form. What was done I believe really hampered on what could have been a really intense entry.
The Producer’s Cut has a soft pace that is not too slow or fast. In this one, Jamie Lloyd gets to survive a bit more while in the theatrical cut, Michael Meyers kills her on a set of drills. Its graphic but at least in the Producer’s Cut, we spend more time with her even if they do kill her off anyway later on. At least her death scene in the original version is subtle and less graphic. Speaking of which, the theatrical cut adds a lot of gore in spots trying to up the ante as usual. For example, in the original cut, John was to be electrocuted by Michael Meyers and just die after 1.21 gigawats to the body. In the theatrical cut, they added a special effect to have his head explode. Its crazy but feels over excessive.
Probably the biggest difference has to be the ending. In the Producer’s Cut, we learn the father of the baby and its not pretty. Jame’s baby is revealed to be a forced inbreeding with Michael Meyers. You read it right. Michael Meyers was forced to have sex with his niece. I can’t say I was too shocked as I heard about this twist before but it opens too many questions. What did the Thron cult achieve by doing this? And if he is supposed to kill his bloodline, why didn’t he kill Jamie on the spot instead? The original version really seemed to build and build to something big and I expected it. But its a shame to see how well engaged I was to its conclusion that just tosses everything in the air for a possible entry. It doesn’t try to be climatic. Tommy performs an spell with stones to stop Michael (which surprisingly works leaving the killer frozen in place) and Loomis is passed on the Curse of Thorn leaving him to possibly take care of Michael now. First, the stone idea is very disappointing seeing how much intense the film was already. Second, I think it would have made more sense if Tommy got the curse instead of Loomis. I understand they wanted the character to stick around for more films but even the character was already too old as was Donald Pleasance. It makes sense seeing how much Loomis knows of Michael by why pass the curse to him at an old age.
Well, for the theatrical cut, they tried to fix that but it fails on so many levels. Michael goes from a pawn of the cult to just straight up killer. In fact, he axes off each member of the Thron cult for no reason leaving me wonder what did they want with Michael anyway and was their purpose to stop Michael or did they think they still had control? Uncle Meyers being the daddy is gone and the stone ending is scrapped. Instead, its vaguly hinted that Jamie’s baby was from gene-splicing stuff and Michael is killed off by many blows to the head with a pipe. Its baffling for me to see why they kill him off this way after seeing Michael getting gunshots to the head. Its a better-ish ending but its still worse than the other one. It answers little but raises more questions and succeeds in new dumb ways to make me tear my hairs out. Also, there’s a weird drum solo score they added for the finale that sounds like Animal from the Muppets having a heart attack while doing an epic drum solo. It doesn’t fit the tone the first 2/3 of the movie seeing the new footage is obvious to point out from its neon lit colors that look like dailies from Batman Forever.
But the biggest thing I have to address is how less of Dr. Loomis we see in the theatrical edit. He’s a big character and the only one from the original films that is carried over. Seeing him in the final cut makes me feel like its a cameo rather than a big role. He’s played up more in the Producer’s Cut and at least it feels like he has more to do. Again, he maybe just running about and trying to figure things about but its nice to see Donald take on the role one last time and it feels a tad more respected here. Its a shame because I want to say the Producer’s Cut is the better film but that has too many faults as well. I do admire the atmosphere and pace in the editing compared to the fast and unneeded ADHD editing of the theatrical cut. It shows which version had more care, but I feel another re-write could have improved this one a bit. Both cuts are bad and heavily flawed but at least the Producer’s Cut has some redeeming qualities to make me recommend it. But I can’t guarantee it will be to everyone’s taste and that goes for the theatrical cut too. The only positive I can think of for the theatrical cut is the songs on soundtrack which is generic 1990’s rock but at least Brother Cane’s “And Fools Shine On” is a good track to listen too. However, I feel its inclusion here was more needed for something like The Crow and not a whacked out, production fault like this one.
Posted on October 31, 2014, in Horror-Wood 2014 and tagged Donald Pleasence, Franchise, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Meyers, Horror-Wood Blog-a-Thon, Jamie Lloyd, John Carpenter's Halloween, Michael Meyers, Moustapha Akkad, Paul Rudd, Producer's Cut. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.