You know what I admire about Michael Myers? He takes pride in his work.
Oh sure, he’s a serial killer and his work involves murdering dozens upon dozens of people, but he seems to have a pretty strong work ethic. More than any other movie slasher, Michael stops to survey his own handiwork. There have been numerous scenes throughout the Halloween series, wherein Michael will stab someone, or axe someone, or pin them to a wall with a pointed object, and then stand back and admire their dead body. As if he were appraising his own work. Grading himself, perhaps giving himself some constructive criticism. “The life drained out of them satisfyingly enough,” he may think to himself, “but next time I have got to hit close to an artery. There is just not enough blood in this one.” Michael is an artist. His medium is teenagers and security guards.
Welcome back, fellow slasher fans, to the third installment in the Halloween edition of CraveOnline‘s The Series Project. We’ve covered the first five films over the course of the last two weeks, and this week, we’ll be looking at the final three chapters in the original Halloween continuity. Like most slasher series, the Halloween movies are gradually diminishing in quality as we go along, and we will find that this week will uncover the two worst chapters in the franchise. Well, it’s debatable whether or not the Michael-free Halloween III: Season of the Witch even counts as part of the series in anything other than Roman numeral. If so, that one may also be one of the worst in the series, if you manage not to have fun with the infinitely bonkers premise.
But this week we’ll be looking at Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, an alternate cut of the same, the intended “final” chapter in the series Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later, and the true final film in the series (before the reboot, sigh) called Halloween: Resurrection. A little peek ahead: Halloween: Resurrection features no actual resurrection.
But to the series itself. Let’s waste no time, as we have to tackle what is easily the worst film in the series first. Let’s look at…
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (dir. Joe Chappelle, 1995)
Plagued by budget and production problems, Curse feels like it was made by four different directors who, even between them, didn’t manage film everything that was in the script, which, in itself, went through eleven distinct drafts with eleven different endings, none of which could be agreed upon by the filmmakers and the studio. Seriously, if you want a model of how studio tinkering and over-editing can drive something as simple as a slasher film into total incoherence, look no further than the sixth Halloween movie. The experience of watching this film can only serve as an object lesson as to Hollywood gone wrong.
And that’s to say nothing toward the ultimate self-defeating premise of the movie, which would sting even if the filmmaking weren’t scattered and sloppy. I mentioned in my coverage of Halloween II that Michael (now played by George P. Wilbur from Halloween 4) is more interesting the less we know abut him personally. If we know his motivation, we can come up with solutions as to how to circumvent his murderous actions. If we accept that he’s a semi-supernatural force of evil, then he’s far scarier and, I would argue, far more interesting as a dramatic presence.
Curse tries to explain away all of Michael’s actions under the banner of an ancient Druid curse, inflicted by a group of Satanic robe-wearing cultists with unlimited access to candles. You may recall at the end of Halloween 5 that Michael was freed from prison by a mysterious cowboy figure. In this film, we learn that the cowboy was actually the head of a cult called Thorn, that has been cursing people for centuries. They tattoo a baby shortly after birth, and that baby will grow up with evil in their soul, forced to murder all of their own family members. This seems like a clever war tactic, provided you’re only at war with a neighboring Druid tribe, but Michael’s familial curse is still not explained in its modern context. Why does this group of urban Satanists want the Myers clan dead? Who knows? It’s sloppy and ill-advised. I don’t want Michael’s origin. Hearing his shrink call him evil was enough for me.
What’s more, much of the film doesn’t make sense: Paul Rudd, in his first film role, plays Tommy Doyle, the young boy Laurie Strode was babysitting in the 1978 original. Tommy has been spying on the old Myers residence, convinced that he will come back on Halloween of 1995. It turns out that the extended Strode family has moved into the Myers house. Yes, the people who adopted Laurie moved into the place where Michael first killed his sister all those years ago. The film’s protagonist is Kara Strode (Marianna Hagan) who is, I think, Laurie’s adopted sister. Kara has a young son named Danny (Devin Gardner), an abusive father (Bradford English), a passive mother (Kim Darby), and a nobody brother (Keith Bogart).
Michael sets about killing off the Strodes, whom he has mistaken for his own family members, I guess. Why does he kill people who are clearly not his family members? Like that annoying ’90s shock jock (Leo Geter), or the pretty best friend (Mariah O’Brian)? Just for practice, I suppose.
Michael is ultimately looking for the infant son of Jamie (J.C. Brandy), who has survived from the last film. Jamie is now about 16 years old, and has given birth under the auspices of the cult, who mean to sacrifice her. She has handed her baby off to Tommy, and Tommy spends the film explaining things to Kara and to the reappeared and very elderly Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence in his final film role), who has healed from his burns. Dr. Loomis has a best friend (Mitch Ryan) who, in a meaningless surprise, was the mysterious cowboy and lead cultist this whole time. Michael’s curse also ties into a recurring astral constellation. Following me? Good.
Here’s where it gets goofy: Curse ends with Michael inexplicably breaking into a hospital to murder the people who would make a sacrifice to him. Or because of him. Or something. Kara’s son Danny might be the next recipient of the Thorn curse, if Michael can kill the baby in time. Paul Rudd injects Michael with some mysterious green Re-Animator fluid or something, and he freaks out. The final battle takes place in a mysterious round room full of fetuses in jars, all inscribed with magical runes. The last shot of the film is Michael’s mask, abandoned on the floor. Is he broken of the curse? Did the green fluid make him even crazier? I don’t know what happened.
In addition to this inexplicable chain of events, Curse also punches home how “scary” it is with occasional noisy flashes of Michael’s face placed sort of randomly amidst the film’s events. They serve the same function as the “chung chung” in an episode of “Law & Order.”
Yes, I proudly declare Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers to be the worst in the series. It’s a ramshackle series of random events that somehow over-explain themselves while simultaneously remaining completely vague.
What happened? That may be answered by…