A Review of the "Producer's Cut" of Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers
On Saturday, October 26th 2013, I had the opportunity to attend a screening of the elusive "Producer's Cut" of the film Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles, CA. As a massive fan of the franchise ever since I was a kid, I jumped at the chance. I showed up a little early and was pleasantly surprised at how many people were lined up, some in costume, to see the screening. Before the film, Screenwriter Daniel Farrands treated the audience to a quick Q&A, where he covered a little of the backstory of how the film came to be and how the studio settled on the final cut.
Overall I think Daniel comes across as a highly intelligent super-fan of the series, that merely set out to write the best Halloween movie possible, that would not only explain how Michael was still alive and his motivations for killing, but tie the first two films to the fourth and fifth films. And if the mythology of the franchise weren't so confused following the convoluted fifth entry, this movie may have been better received.
The film itself is still imperfect but studio interference, rewrites, and the death of Donald Pleasance during shooting complicated things immensely. And to me, this product is so far superior to the theatrical release, it even changed my attitude toward it's sequel Halloween H20.
Here, I will present (with a little help from Wikipedia) a breakdown of the plot and differences between both versions:
-Six years after the events of Halloween 5, the "Man in Black" seen throughout the previous movie has rescued Michael from the Haddonfield Police Station and abducted his niece Jamie Lloyd (J.C. Brandy). The opening of scene in the Producer's Cut is much longer and actually shows us the Man in Black and the Cult of Thorn kidnapping Michael and Jamie. Jamie, now fifteen, has been impregnated and her baby is born on October 30, 1995. The baby is carried away by the Man in Black who appears to be the leader of a Druid-like cult. Later that night, Mary (Susan Swift), a nurse, helps Jamie escape with her baby whom she warns is in harms way. Michael (George P. Wilbur), in pursuit of Jamie and her newborn, kills the nurse. Jamie and the baby flee in a stolen pickup of a drunk motorist (who quickly becomes Michael's next victim) and hides at a dark and deserted bus station.
Meanwhile Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence), now retired, is visited by Dr. Terence Wynn (Mitch Ryan), a character who appeared briefly in the first film and now the chief administrator of Smith's Grove Sanitarium, who wants him to return. This scene is extended in the Producer's Cut - Dr. Wynn explains that he is retiring and would like Dr. Loomis to take over as the caretaker of Smtih's Grove. Dr. Loomis expresses his disinterest and declines. During their conversation they overhear Jamie's plea for help on the radio after calling into a local radio station, only to be ignored by the DJ Barry Simms (Leo Geter) who is doing a broadcast on the Haddonfield murders. Jamie escapes only to later be run off the road by Michael. Beaten and exhausted, she makes her way inside of an old barn where Michael kills her by pushing her onto a corn thresher. However, Michael finds that Jamie's baby is not in the truck. This is a major difference between the versions here, as in the Producer's Cut, Jamie is not killed in the barn. She is stabbed and left for dead, but survives and is taken to the hospital.
Back in Haddonfield, Tommy Doyle (Paul Rudd), the child Laurie Strode babysat in the first film, now lives in a boarding house run by a mysterious old woman named Mrs. Blankenship (Janice Knickrehm). The people living in the Myers house across the street are relatives of the Strode family who had adopted Laurie: Kara Strode (Marianne Hagan), her six-year-old son, Danny (Devin Gardner), her teenage brother, Tim (Keith Bogart), and her parents Debra (Kim Darby) and John (Bradford English). For years, Tommy has been obsessed with finding the truth behind the murderous motives of Michael Myers. After hearing Jamie begging for help on a local radio show as well, Tommy finds her baby at the bus station, takes him into his care and names him Steven. Tommy runs into Dr. Loomis at the Haddonfield Memorial Hospital and tells him of the Strodes living in the Myers house. The two are convinced Michael has indeed come back to Haddonfield. In the Producer's Cut we jump back at the hospital, where Jamie is having a dream about her time at Smith's Grove with the cult and recalls that the child that she has given birth to is Michael's. Suddenly the mysterious man in black shows up and kills Jamie.
While the children are at school, Dr. Loomis visits Debra and reveals to her that she is living in Michael's home. After he leaves, Debra calls John and tries to convince him to leave Haddonfield but is then killed by Michael. Later, Kara returns home to find Danny in his room with Tommy, whom he had met while on his way home. The three of them go to Tommy's house across the street, where Tommy reveals to Kara that he believes Michael is under the curse of Thorn by the Druid cult. Thorn is an ancient Druid symbol that represented a demon that spread sickness and caused destruction. To prevent this, a child from each tribe was chosen to inherit the curse of Thorn to offer a blood sacrifice of its next of kin on the night of Samhain (Halloween). When the corresponding Thorn constellation appears, Michael appears. The curse explains why Michael is out to kill his family and also accounts for his superhuman abilities. Tommy believes that baby Steven will be Michael's final sacrifice.
While Tommy goes out to look for Dr. Loomis at a party at the Haddonfield Junior College, Mrs. Blankenship reveals to Kara (after talking to Danny) that she was babysitting Michael Myers when he killed his sister many years ago, and that Danny hears the "voice" (from the "Man in Black") telling him to kill just like Michael Myers heard when she was babysitting him the night he killed Judith. Thus, Danny will be the next child cursed by Thorn after Steven's sacrifice. Meanwhile, Michael kills Barry Simms, Tim and his girlfriend Beth (Mariah O'Brien). After Tommy returns to the boarding house with Dr. Loomis, the "Man in Black" finally reveals himself to be none other than Dr. Wynn. After a terrifying showdown, the "Cult of Thorn" takes Kara, Danny, Steven, and Michael to Smith's Grove Sanitarium, with Tommy and Dr. Loomis drugged for the time being. When they awake, they follow the cult to Smith's Grove where Loomis confronts Dr. Wynn. Wynn credits him for first recognizing the evil the cult has inflicted inside Michael, and indicates how Jamie's baby represents a new cycle of it. After inviting Loomis to join in on his conspiracy, Loomis calls Wynn out on his evil scheme before being knocked unconscious by cult members.
The biggest difference between the two versions is the ending. The ending of the Producer's Cut is as follows. Paul Rudd goes off on his own, leaving Dr. Loomis to confront Dr. Wynn. He follows a Druid-like cult member into the depth's of Smith's Grove. He disguises himself as a cult member and joins in a ceremony. Kara is strapped to an altar and Dr. Wynn is there, coaxing Michael to kill the infant. But Kara intervenes by addressing Michael, and begging him not to be manipulated and kill his own baby. While he is distracted, Tommy springs into action and presses a large ceremonial knife to Dr. Wynn's throat. He frees Kara, the baby, and Danny and they attempt to escape. When they reach a locked gate, Tommy spreads runestones over the ground, cuts the palm of his hand, and spreads his blood over the stones. The circle Tommy creates traps Michael, who is rendered paralyzed. Dr. Loomis is able to open the gate to get Tommy, Kara, Danny, and Steven to safety, at which point he turns back to face Michael in one last showdown. Inside the sanitarium, Dr. Wynn is attempting to free Michael from the spell cast by Tommy's runes. When Dr. Loomis returns, Michael's body is lying on the floor motionless. Dr. Loomis unmasks him only to find Dr. Wynn underneath the mask. He opens his eyes and passes the curse of thorn onto Dr. Loomis, who screams. The final shot is of Michael escaping through the tunnels underneath of Smith's Grove wearing Dr. Wynn's 'Man in Black' outfit. Which to me is the perfect set up for Halloween H20 and Resurrection, where we see Michael again changing clothes. I can't believe they didn't keep this ending. Here is how the studio decided to end it.
Meanwhile, Tommy finds Kara locked in a room in the maximum security ward. After a brief confrontation with Michael, they continue on to find Danny and Steven. In the hallway they see Wynn and a team of surgeons dressed in cult robes walk into an operating room to perform a mysterious procedure. Tommy and Kara soon sneak into the adjoining room where they find the children. They watch the doctors begin to perform the procedure, but Michael, angry at being exploited, interrupts it, walking in with a surgical machete and slaughtering them all (though Wynn's fate appears to be ambiguous). Tommy, Kara, and the kids run with Michael in hot pursuit until they hide in a high-tech medical laboratory. Inside the lab, Kara notices tanks containing human fetuses with a chart of runes and scientific letter codes; both connected together by the Thorn symbol.
Michael breaks into the room where Tommy injects him with tranquilizers of a corrosive and beats him into unconsciousness with a lead pipe. As Dr. Loomis, Tommy, Kara, Danny, and Steven are about to escape, Loomis tells them to go on without him because he has "a little business" to attend to. Back inside the building, Michael's mask is found lying on the floor of the lab room as the screams of Dr. Loomis can be heard in the background. The End.
I can't stand the ending that they added to the theatrical release, and find it to be a disservice to the series as a whole. It actually leads into Halloween H20 and Resurrection quite well. It reminds us that Michael changes clothes, as he did in the original and which he does again in H20. Another major factor in the superiority of this cut is that they used the score by Alan Howarth instead of a bunch of MTV bands to try and reach a younger audience. It couldn't be more like night and day. I can say that the creative process is not always perfect, and oftentimes wrong decisions are made. But I have an extremely hard time understanding, even after a few poor test screenings, that the studio would release this film as they did. It is completely beyond me that anyone would have seen this version and given it their seal of approval. Nonetheless, with the alternate and added footage of the Producer's Cut, I felt much more satisfied, and I hope they finally give this DVD the release that the fans deserve. Happy Halloween.
The Children of Samhain