Studio: Dimension Films
Director: Joe Chappelle
Writer: Daniel Farrands
Producer: Paul Freeman
Stars: Donald Pleasence, Paul Rudd, Marianne Hagan, Kim Darby, Bradford English, Keith Bogart, Mariah O’Brien, Leo Geter, Mitchell Ryan, J.C. Brandy, Devin Gardner, George Wilbur
With Dr. Loomis and Tommy Doyle in pursuit, Michael Myers returns to Haddonfield as part of a cult conspiracy to kidnap Jamie Lloyd’s baby.
“Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers” is probably the only movie in existence to have a commercially available “Producer’s Cut.” Other films have Director’s Cuts and Extended Cuts of course, even Cabal Cuts and Richard Donner Cuts. But Google “Producer’s Cut” and the only other result aside from “Halloween 6” is the TV sitcom “Parks and Rec.”
Why a “Producer’s Cut” and not one of the more traditionally defined alternate versions? “Halloween 6” screenwriter Daniel Farrands spoke specifically about the peculiar label at Brian Collins’ Horror Movie a Day screening of the P-Cut at Hollywood’s New Beverly Theater in 2013. Farrands expressed that, while coming closer than the “Theatrical Cut,” the “Producer’s Cut” is still not a fully accurate representation of what he originally wrote. It’s apparently not exactly what director Joe Chappelle had in mind, either.
So whose vision of “Halloween 6” is it? The Akkad family, longtime stewards of the franchise, have a long-term stake in “Halloween” that doesn’t necessarily align with the immediate ROI incentives motivating Dimension and the Weinsteins. As director and writer respectively, Chappelle and Farrands have their own ideas and interests to protect, as well. Add another party in the form of producer Paul Freeman and right quick you have a classic case of “too many cooks in the kitchen.”
The “Producer’s Cut” is about as close to a creatively agreeable compromise as the filmmakers could hope to achieve given the disparate parties involved. If the “Theatrical Cut” (review here) represents what studio suits wanted in order to appease the casual interest of a mainstream audience, then the “Producer’s Cut” reflects something of the originally expressed intent to provide “Halloween” diehards with fan service that connects dots from previous installments. Not quite what the director wanted, not quite what the writer hoped for, and definitely not what the money men thought would play to a mass market, the “Halloween 6: Producer’s Cut” is still an imperfect movie, though moderately less so than its much-maligned “Theatrical Cut” counterpart.
The “Producer’s Cut” has its fair share of problems. They just belong to a separate set of issues than those plaguing the “Theatrical Cut.” Both versions have murky mythologies culminating in confusing conclusions. Yet only the “Theatrical Cut” dumbs itself down on a technical level by shoehorning exploding heads, hard rock guitar riffs, and flash frame editing into a series that never before used such misplaced techniques. Stylistically, the P-Cut avoids any such 1990s nonsense by retaining a look closer to the traditional “Halloween” feel.
Although the expanded explanation behind Michael’s origin and his connection to the Cult of Thorn makes more sense in the P-Cut, it’s still a letdown, and still jumbled at that. But the mistake the sequels made dates back to “Halloween II” and trying to drop a trail of backstory breadcrumbs that never led anywhere specific in the first place. Could there ever be reveals behind the Man in Black’s identity, the wrist tattoos, the Strode family connection, or the Samhain reference that would add up to something satisfying?
I’m writing this in May of 2016, about two weeks after “Absentia” (review here) director Mike Flanagan posted a Note on Facebook addressing criticism over the unnamed killer in “Hush” (review here) not having a backstory. In expressing his belief that “the explanation is never as satisfying as the question,” Flanagan recounts fighting a battle against adding a reason for why the mirror in “Oculus” (review here) is haunted. Flanagan argues:
“…no matter what we said, it would not be satisfying. ‘The mirror frame was carved from a tree where they hung witches,’ ‘the glass was made from sand from a beach where the devil played volleyball’ – there simply isn’t an answer to the question ‘where does evil come from’ that isn’t, frankly, stupid.”
The “stupid” part of that sentence resonates in my head as I reflect on how it applies to “Halloween 6.” After watching both cuts of the film, I genuinely admire writer Daniel Farrands even more for daring to try tying the continuity together in what was preordained to be a thankless task.
Think about how by this many movies in “Friday the 13th,” Jason Voorhees was on a road that ultimately pitted him against a telepath before taking him to Manhattan, Hell, and then outer space. Freddy was killed in 3D, went meta, and then returned for a monster mash with Jason. Where could “Halloween 6” conceivably go down the path it was on that wasn’t going to end up somewhere comparatively “stupid” as far as explanations and evolution go?
It can come down to a coin flip regarding whether the P-Cut or T-Cut has the more poorly conceived final act. The T-Cut’s introduces even more random elements like genetic engineering and jars of green goo containing fetuses before ending with a bizarre beating of Michael and a disembodied Dr. Loomis scream. The P-Cut inventively marries a “Temple of Doom” setup with a scene from a Satanic Black Mass, but the upfront acknowledgment that Michael Myers raped his niece for her to give birth at 15 is uncomfortably dark and leaves a bad taste.
Even with the weird rolling of runes to stop Michael in his tracks, the P-Cut’s ending is probably preferable to the slice and dice sloppiness of rushed reshoots and snipped VO cobbled into a “conclusion” for the T-Cut. If only the P-Cut was similarly smart enough to excise the incestuous sexual assault…
One area where P definitively trumps T is in providing more of Donald Pleasence as Dr. Loomis. Regrettably, Loomis was going to be a perfunctory personality no matter what, despite Pleasence being billed before the title. Loomis oddly never even confronts Michael Myers one single time in “Halloween 6,” often doing his own thing on a parallel arc to what Tommy Doyle and the Strodes do on the main one.
As a knock-on bonus of more Loomis, the P-Cut provides more of Mitchell Ryan as Dr. Wynn. Being a latecomer to “Dark Shadows” fandom, I wasn’t in the know at the time of release to appreciate Ryan’s inclusion. But seeing the actor who memorably portrayed Burke Devlin appearing within “Halloween” continuity, one of them anyway, is a terrific treat for “Dark Shadows” fans.
Because it doesn’t have reshoots to cut and paste, “Halloween 6: Producer’s Cut” flows more naturally as a narrative. This applies to major scene construction and the order in which they play, which is not as recklessly arranged as it is in the “Theatrical Cut.” However, even the P-Cut carries over some slipshod editing within singular scenes.
One example is a climactic scene after the Man in Black’s identity is revealed in Mrs. Blankenship’s boarding house. Kara Strode crashes through a second story window, but you have to watch the moment more than once to determine if she jumped, was pushed by a robed druid, or stabbed by the knife brandished in Mrs. Blankenship’s hand. Even then, the film fades to black and then back up again. The P-Cut inserts a brief scene here, but still transitions jarringly to Tommy and Loomis standing on the lawn muttering that they “must have been drugged” without seeing what actually happened to them. Even if the excuses are lack of coverage or working around rewrites, both cuts have sloppy editing going on.
Other alterations between versions are minor. The P-Cut retains the “6” in the title, has Loomis doing narration instead of Tommy Doyle, adds audience hoots and howls to Barry Simms’ campus broadcast, etc. Some changes are so insignificant, one wonders why anyone bothered doing the work to make them.
Pros and cons exist on both sides when the “Theatrical Cut” and “Producer’s Cut” go head to head, though I suspect most “Halloween” fans, myself included, award an advantage to the “Producer’s Cut” of “Halloween 6.” While it still raises an eyebrow, the Thorn cult explanations relate better to previously-established continuity. And whether the additional screentime is ultimately inconsequential or not, it’s hard to argue against including more of Donald Pleasence as Dr. Loomis.
If for whatever reason you can only watch one, the “Producer’s Cut” is the way to go. Not necessarily because it is “better,” but because the “Theatrical Cut” is “worse,” if that makes sense. Then again, there isn’t a right or wrong choice, since both versions went out the window to start from scratch with “Halloween H20.”
Review Score: 65