The following guest is by Street Trash Steadicam, a definite film buff in who’s Twitter @StreetTrashSteadicam, he describes himself as a “gay weirdo film buff”. He’s very passionate about films and has an eye about him that I like. This is the reason I asked him if he would write a guest post for Jabber Jaw Reviews. I allowed him to pick the topic and when he proposed Halloween, I was excited.
I think you will find the following post very thought-provoking. Especially, if you’re a Halloween fan.
FROM MYERS TO CURSES: HALLOWEEN HAS HAS ITS GOOD, ITS BAD AND DEFINITELY, IT’S UGLY.
Before being rebooted with Jamie Lee Curtis’ return in Halloween H20, the plots of Halloween sequels were becoming increasingly…strange. Halloween II, needing some explanation for why Michael Myers was still looking for Curtis’ Laurie Strode, introduced the idea that Michael Myers was out to kill his family members; it also hinted at a connection to the ancient Druid origins of Halloween, but never explained it. Halloween 4 and 5 gamely attempted to continue from there, following Myers’ imperiled niece Jamie Lloyd and adding a few more references to the Druids (along with some wonderful but nonspecific speeches about evil from Donald Pleasence’s Dr. Loomis). 5 even added a mysterious man in black who arrives in town to break Myers out of jail for a cliffhanger ending.
It wasn’t long before this entire impossible plotline was just left behind, but first Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers attempted to tie it all together: Michael Myers is the property of a secret cult of modern Druids at the psychiatric hospital, you see, spending his life carrying out an ancient murderous ritual…except they aren’t Druids so much as mad DNA splicers trying to breed Pure Evil, but never mind. Meanwhile, a previously unknown branch of Myers’ family has moved into his old house, which he isn’t happy about. The movie climaxes at the hospital, in which many people die bloodily as the plot seems to come unglued, and after all the Druid stuff and secret conspiracies, Michael Myers is dispatched by a few swings from a heavy pipe.
Curse was very bad: choppy, uninvolving, full of flash cuts and loud banging noises someone apparently thought were either cool or frightening, but are neither. Soon after its release, however, word began to get out of an earlier version with an entirely different third act, completed before a test screening led to much recutting and refilming. Before long bootlegs of the “Producer’s Cut” were being passed around at conventions. Thought to be lost outside of poor-quality VHS screeners, the elements for this were belatedly found and released officially as the “Unrated Producer’s Cut.”
In this original version—more deliberate, less violent and making a good deal more sense—it’s still an awfully goofy movie. Instead of the strange material about DNA, we get an honest-to-goodness Druid cult, holding torchlit rituals with sacrifices tied to stakes; as for Michael Myers, who’s survived gunshots and explosives with nary a backward glance, he’s stopped in his tracks by magical rune stones. It’s a long way from the clean plotting of ‘Halloween.’ But it’s a surprise to find there’s a version of this that halfway works: a greater amount of character material and dialogue, in the beginning, make the rest seem less arbitrary, and even some of the same scenes, with a change in music or less frenzied editing, play out more effectively.
One section of the movie that really benefits is a small recreation of the original film, in which the story is temporarily reduced to the simple situation of Myers wandering between two houses facing each other. The scenes of our latest Strode (Kara, played by Marianne Hagan) edging down dark hallways, making unpleasant discoveries and running for safety don’t do anything new, but scored by John Carpenter’s unnerving themes and given room to breathe, they still work. One moment—in which Kara witnesses a murder across the street, then sees her young son wandering into that house—is far more effective and frightening for playing out in real time, instead of the stylized, strobe-like slow motion of the theatrical version.
There’s also markedly more of Pleasence in his final performance as Dr. Loomis who has a more direct role in the proceedings and is given time to ruminate on this part he (and Pleasence) have been playing for so long. It’s a fitting sendoff—more than you can say for the truncated theatrical version, where he mostly seemed to have been invited along out of habit.
It seems like, once a horror movie with an unkillable villain gets enough sequels, you eventually get one like this: a Curse of Michael Myers or Jason Goes to Hell that tries to pull together what earlier writers wouldn’t and ends up overstuffed with plot. The version of Curse that came out in 1995 shows how to do that indifferently and often seemed bored with itself; this one is more entertaining in the way it commits to its silliness, with Tommy Doyle in that hospital hallway arranging rune stones with fevered concentration. It’s not the stuff of greatness, but you can’t say it isn’t trying.