“Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers” is an example of how even a film budgeted at $2 million can experience the same problem as a big budget feature. Title changes, frustrated cast members, studio interference, the death of an actor, extensive re-shoots and plot reconstructions were all part of the rocky road from script to screen for this film. Having half of the film’s budget diverted to “Hellraiser: Bloodlines” in mid-production only worsened the situation. While the product that eventually made it to theaters was entertaining if somewhat nonsensical, viewers do have the opportunity to see the movie as it was intended to be seen by the writer and producer via bootleg copies that are fairly easy to obtain.
The death of Donald Pleasance during post-production, and an allegedly disastrous test screening gave director Joe Chapelle (“Phantoms”) all the excuse he needed to go to Dimensions Films and request the film be restructured. The basic idea of Michael Myers being controlled by a Druidic cult that worships the evil god Thorn, the revealing of the identity of the mysterious man in black, and the return of Tommy Doyle as a young man emotionally scarred by his childhood encounter with Michael Myers, all remained. As well, the concept of Halloween being banned in Haddonfield since 1989 and the troubled Strode household are still present. But while the film’s basic structure is intact (albeit barely) audiences will see a dramatically different and vastly superior film in “The Producer’s Cut”.
The editing of the film is extremely different from the original version. “The Producer’s Cut” is edited in a more documentary style, emphasizing plot details instead of the flash cuts used in the final product. The music is also different, relying more on Alan Howarth’s score than alternative rock singles. “The Producer’s Cut” is also longer, running at over 95 minutes compare to the theatrical cut’s 88.
There are also major differences in the story itself. Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) not only voices the opening narration instead of Tommy Doyle, but the character is also more determined and proactive in this version, instead of being seemingly led around by Dr. Wynn (Mitch Ryan) in the theatrical cut. The opening flashback is expanded to show Michael Myers being dragged into a van by members of the Thorn cult and Jaime Lloyd (J.C. Brandy) being abducted. Jaime is also not killed in the farmhouse, but is taken to the hospital and shot by the man in black. More scenes are shown with the Strode family emphasizing the tension between the boorish John Strode and his daughter and single mother Kara. Paul Rudd (“The Cider House Rules”) is also given more time as Tommy Doyle, and does an astonishingly fantastic job portraying a troubled young man trying to cope with a psyche scarred by Michael Myers, all the while preparing for his tormentor’s return.
Audiences will see the greatest difference in the film’s third act, which was cut and redone for the theatrical version. The denouement of “The Producer’s Cut” has Tommy battling the Thorn cult for Kara and Jaime’s baby, Tommy stopping Michael in his tracks with magical Runes, and a clever escape by Michael Myers to kill another day; far superior to the ending audiences were given and are still trying to understand.
The theatrical cut of “Halloween 6” is by no means a bad film; it is rather good but unfortunately descends into confusion that dampens an otherwise good experience. “The Producer’s Cut” is an excellent film, incredibly inventive and only hampered by a budget that stifles its aspirations. Joe Chapelle’s efforts at restructuring the film may have seemed like a good idea to him, but they are like a doctor trying to treat a sprained ankle by amputating both the patient’s legs. The problem may be solved, but the patient is worse off.
Copies of this particular version are readily available on Ebay and at science fiction and horror conventions, and fans of the series can see what a great film “Halloween 6″ would have been if it had just been left alone.
Joe Chappelle (director) / Debra Hill, John Carpenter, Daniel Farrands, Rand Ravich, Joe Chappelle (screenplay)
CAST: Donald Pleasence …. Dr. Loomis
Paul Rudd …. Thomas Doyle
Marianne Hagan …. Kara Strode