Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (Dimension 1995)
With its predecessor, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers having detonated at the box office like the dampest of squibs in 1989, producer Moustapha Akkad was loath to rush headlong into another instalment in Michael Myers’ killing spree.
His interest piqued in 1990 by a script submission from screenwriter and franchise fan Daniel Farrands, Akkad softened to the idea, but the project was thwarted by lengthy legal wrangles which culminated in Miramax Films buying the rights to the series.
By 1994, a number of writers had had their screenplays rejected but with Joe Chappelle in the director’s chair and Paul Freeman (who had produced the series’ fourth entry) as producer, filming could eventually commence.
Any slasher franchise is prone to familiarity breeding contempt, but what went on behind the scenes of the sixth Halloween movie made things rather more complex, with poor weather forcing Chappelle and Freeman to rewrite scenes during filming, change the ending, and take on more responsibility than they had any right to.
Jamie Lloyd (J C Brandy) finally succumbs to Uncle Michael (George P Wilbur) in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (Dimension 1995).
Miramax were forced to intervene, bringing the project back in line, but even then the movie’s woes were not over, with a spleen-laden response from preview audiences necessitating a further reworking. Donald Pleasence’s death in early 1995 cast a melancholy shadow over production as well as taking the film further into development hell: at one point Farrands half-joked that the project could be called The Curse of Michael Myers. The name stuck.
Key to the success of The Curse of Michael Myers is its devastating use of drawn-out tension. From the coldly-lit bus station onwards, every avenue for gut-knotting suspense is explored, especially in sequences set in the Myers house itself and in the laboratory facility beneath Smith’s Grove Sanitarium. For all their overweening interference, Chappelle and Freeman got this aspect very right.
Danny (Devin Gardner), Kara (Marianne Hagan) and Tommy (Paul Rudd) begin to appreciate the sheer force and motive of Michael Myers in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (Dimension 1995).
Michael’s (George P Wilbur) kills are never easy viewing, but the deaths of the Strode parents have a peculiar unpleasantness, while a neatly inserted piece of retrospective continuity sees the return of Tommy Doyle, played by future A-lister Paul Rudd; along with the return of the Strode family name, this brings a feeling of homecoming to the series.
Performances throughout are solid, the tensions between the characters a welcome antidote to the doomed gangs of friends in previous movies. Loomis is as passionate as ever to stop Michael, but a jaded air has crept into his characterisation. A few false starts in casting had the producers searching in vain to recruit Brian Andrews, the original Tommy Doyle, to play the part of his adult self; for sinister Dr Wynn, Farrands had always wanted Hammer star Christopher Lee, but television veteran Mitchell Ryan got the part instead.
The cast and crew’s dissatisfaction with The Curse of Michael Myers seemed to radiate out to audiences, leading to poor reviews and a below-par box office return. Yet this is more than a me-too slasher sequel, its wealth of strong ideas making for an entertaining continuation of the series.