After its first sequel, the Halloween franchise took a bold direction with the vastly underrated Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Risk didn’t lead to reward, and Season of the Witch disappointed at the box office. Six years would pass before Michael Myers got another proper sequel. Halloween fans may disagree, but there was something sad about watching the franchise that kickstarted the slasher subgenre become just another slasher film. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Danielle Harris fan. But Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers and its follow-up felt like derivative slasher sequels.
After The Revenge of Michael Myers ended on a cliffhanger, Halloween fans waited another six years for some resolution. In the 23 years since its release, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers and its troubled production history are well known. Die-hard fans still debate the virtues of the Producer’s Cut over the Theatrical Cut. But is there a good, definitive version of The Curse of Michael Myers?
The Curse of Michael Myers opens six years after Michael Myers and his niece, Jamie Lloyd, disappeared from a Haddonfield jail. In an underground industrial facility, Jamie gives birth to a baby boy while hooded figures and her uncle, Michael Myers, watch nearby. The newborn child is marked with an ancient rune symbol for a Druid demon, Thorn. With the help of a nurse, Jamie escapes with baby, but Michael will not let her go.
When a now grown-up Tommy Doyle hears Jamie’s pleas for help in a radio show call-in, he knows Michael Myers is returning to Haddonfield. With Dr. Loomis’ help, Tommy tries to protect Jamie’s baby and a new family living in the old Myers’ house.
Curse of Michael Myers a Lazy Retread of All Things Halloween
In spite of all the efforts to infuse this sequel with a broader mythology, The Curse of Michael Myers is just a lazy retread of all things Halloween. John Carpenter’s legendary score is recycled, but the familiar tones feel discordant this time around. Donald Pleasence is reduced to shouting the same lines about ‘evil’. Daniel Farrands’ script ups the ante with some absolute clunkers of dialogue. When Pleasence says he can feel Myers’ ‘evil heart beating out in the world’, you can’t help but feel sorry for him. Director Joe Chappelle tries his best to make Myers the omnipotent Shape from the first film. In spite of the intentions, Chapelle’s homages only serve to remind you how far his sequel falls from the original. Even the familiar mask looks like a poor man’s imitation.
You could forgive The Curse of Michael Myers for all of its faults if the movie was scary. Regardless of whether you’re watching the Theatrical Cut or the Producer’s Cut, you can be assured that neither version is scary. If the slasher sub-genre was showing wear and tear by the late ’80’s, this slasher sequel is encrusted with mould.
A Sequel Desperate to Justify its Own Existence
As a general rule of thumb for horror sequels, progressive instalments inevitably suffer the need to expand on mythology. This time around the Halloween franchise gets saddled with a needlessly convoluted backstory about a Druid curse, Thorn, and a cult. It’s an awful and unnecessary addition to the Michael Myers story that undoes everything that made the character scary in the first place.
Perhaps the greatest offence of this retcon is that it effectively reduces Michael Myers to a background player in his own franchise.
Instead of atmosphere and scares, The Curse of Michael Myers drags its feet with awkward expository dialogue. To deliver the inane dialogue, we get characters retconned into Halloween lore like Michael Myers’ old babysitter. The ‘Curse of Thorn’ storyline fails just about any logical litmus test you could conjure up. But perhaps the greatest offence of this retcon is that it effectively reduces Michael Myers to a background player in his own franchise.
Cursed with Characters Who Range from Bland to Awful
Donald Pleasence was apparently quite ill when filming The Curse of Michael Myers. He died shortly after the first edited cut. Sadly, this is not the film by which to remember the legendary genre actor. By no means is Pleasence to blame. Look to the dreadful screenplay. Dr. Loomis is a recycled character shouting the same warnings he has for five films. The Curse of Michael Myers also has the distinction of being the first theatrical film role for Paul Rudd. Interestingly, the only scary thing about this sequel was its ability to drain Rudd of any charisma.
Marianne Hagan, playing Kara Strode, will not make you forget Jamie Lee Curtis or Danielle Harris.
The Curse of Michael Myers also accomplishes the feat of having two of the more vile characters in slasher film history. Leo Geter repulses with his brief screen time as shock-radio DJ Barry Simms. Meanwhile Bradford English chews the scenery as abusive father, John Strode. Yes, these characters are supposed to be unlikeable but they’re so broadly written and performed that they drag the film down when they’re onscreen. Marianne Hagan, playing Kara Strode, will not make you forget Jamie Lee Curtis or Danielle Harris.
Producer’s Cut vs. Theatrical Cut – They Both Underwhelm
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers is the worst film in the franchise. Yes, I will go on record and say it is worse than Halloween: Resurrection. To a large extent, the debate over the quality of different versions of the sequel are pointless. The Producer’s Cut makes the story more comprehensible, but when the story is this bad, is that a good thing?
THE PROFESSOR’S FINAL GRADE: F