The Halloween movie franchise has always been my favorite iconic horror series, and not just because it’s named after my favorite holiday of the year. It was one of the first R-rated slasher films I remember my sister watching on our family VCR. She’s 4 years older than me and would reach the level of maturity necessary to watch films like these without running panicked into Mom and Dad’s room in the dead of night to request a spot in their bed well before I had.
As an inquisitive youngster, I could never keep my eyes away despite my parents telling me I wasn’t allowed to watch the films. I would sneak downstairs while they were out of the room and take a seat next to my sister on the couch. When she wasn’t mad at me, she would hold off on tattling and give me a chance to soak in some of the gory glory.
There was always something so sinister and scary about the character of Michael Myers. As I grew older, that emotionless white face seemed to pop up in all kinds of popular media. There’s something about faces that show no shred of compassion, anger, fear, or any of the spectrum of human feelings that gives me the ultimate creeps.
At their best, the films were an excellent merger of real-life and mysticism. Michael Myers was a real person turned boogeyman. He wasn’t born a terrible visage of fear and doom, he was a kid possessed by and a slave to some unnatural, unexplained being of brutality and inner torment that forced him to hunt down all the members of his bloodline and mercilessly slaughter them. The series remains my favorite horror movie franchise for a reason. I still have my copy of the hokey-but-hilarious Halloween 4 on VHS that I purchased from a failing local video store lying around my house somewhere.
It wasn’t until 1995 that I saw my first scary movie in theaters. I had rented several horror movies prior to seeing this one, but the whole movie going experience of watching a film like this with an audience seemed really important and exciting to me. 9 years old seems like the proper time in a kid’s life to get the chance to experience the palpable terror of horror movies without the grip of nightmares, illogical fear, and sleepless nights associated with watching them when you’re too young. Not only my first horror movie going experience, but also my first time seeing a piece of my favorite frightening franchise in its intended medium, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers remains a special treat in my Thanksgiving cornucopia of fall childhood memories.
The first thing you need to understand about Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers is that this film went through a putrid pre-production process. What entertainment insiders would call “production hell” seemed like an understatement when describing the fire-rimmed, 100 foot tall hoops the writer and director of this film had to go through to get this film to the public. I’m talking somewhere in the realm of 11 script revisions. While the film does feel incomplete and suffers its fair share of flaws due to its lack of cohesion, it remains a hilariously nonsensical-but-entertaining expansion to the world of the murderous Michael Myers and his everlasting impact on the small town of Haddonfield.
The focus of this films lies in that emotional and cultural impact that Michael Myers’ deeds leave on the small community, despite their best efforts to try to forget all that has transpired. Michael is treated like the embodiment of death and fear and represents a legacy that was left behind and resonates through generations of the town’s residents.
We’re introduced to Kara Strode, the surviving sister of the babysitter, Laurie Strode, who Michael chased relentlessly in the first few installments of the Halloween films. She’s portrayed as a single mother with an asshole father and an unsettling son named Danny who hears voices and sees visions that instruct him to kill everyone. Kara’s brother Tim and his girlfriend Beth are aware of the history of Halloween in their town, but they’re determined to break people out of their depressing funk by throwing a big Halloween bash. What they’re unaware of is that Michael is still around, waiting for a chance to strike at the last living member of his bloodline, his niece Jamie Lloyd’s newborn baby, Steven.
Jamie, now a teenager, is abducted by a strange cult and gives birth to the baby at the beginning of the film. She manages to escape with the kid and is chased by Michael. Due to the child’s blood ties to Michael, he is obviously the next target.
Tommy Doyle, the kid who Laurie Strode babysat in the first movie, is now living in a boarding house run by a strange old woman named Mrs. Blankenship. The house is across the Street from the Strodes, who currently live in the old Myers household. Tommy, played by a young Paul Rudd, gives the same blank stare and monotone voice throughout the entire film. His character is absolutely awful.
Although his character doesn’t do much for the film, it’s also nice that the series revisits the always-entertaining and often-cryptic Dr. Loomis. He hears Jamie’s cries for help on the radio shortly before she is run off the road by Michael and impaled on a corn thresher. Luckily, she had stashed the baby in a deserted bus station.
Tommy, who has been obsessed with finding out the truth behind the disturbing motives of Michael Myers, hears the same broadcast of Jamie’s pleads for help that Dr. Loomis did. Tommy finds the baby at the abandoned bus station and takes him into his care, naming him Steven. Tommy bumps into Dr. Loomis at the hospital and tells him that the Strodes are now living in the Myers house. They are both convinced that Michael Myers has returned to Haddonfield. Seem convoluted enough yet? Just you wait.
Dr. Loomis visits Kara’s mother Debra and reveals that the house they are living in now is the house that Michael Myers grew up in. After his departure, Debra calls her husband and frantically tries to convince him that they need to leave the town immediately, but she is killed shortly thereafter by Michael.
Kara returns home and finds Danny in his room with Tommy. After taking them across the street to his house, Tommy reveals that he believes Michael is under the influence of an ancient curse of Thorn performed by a Celtic cult. Thorn is an ancient Druid symbol, seen throughout Halloween 5 as well as this film, that represents a demon whose main purpose is to spread sickness and destruction. To prevent the demon from being unleashed, a child from each tribe is chosen to inherit the curse as a sort of blood sacrifice on Halloween night.
Essentially, Michael appears when the Thorn constellation appears in the sky which just so happens to take place during Halloween. The curse is a highly-complicated explanation of why Michael Myers possesses supernatural physical abilities as well as a penchant for slaughtering all the remaining members of his family bloodline. Tommy believes that baby Steven is to be Michael’s final sacrifice.
Tommy goes out to look for Dr. Loomis and Mrs. Blankenship reveals to Kara that she was babysitting Michael the night he killed his sister many years ago and that Danny hears the same voice from the “Man in Black” telling him to kill just like Michael had heard when he decided to kill his sister Judith. She pretty much tells Kara that her son is going to be the next Michael Myers. Sadly, although it is 100% alluded to, Danny never fulfills hiss destiny to become the new Michael Myers and follow in his footsteps. This part of the plot is completely left hanging and goes nowhere.
Tommy and Dr. Loomis return to the boarding house and the “Man in Black” finally reveals himself to be Dr. Wynn, one of Dr. Loomis’ colleagues from the mental hospital, Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, from the first Halloween film. After a showdown, the “Cult of Thorn” takes Kara, Danny, Steven, and Michael to Smith’s Grove Sanitarium. Tommy and Dr. Loomis are drugged and left unconscious. When they finally wake up, they manage to follow the cult to Smith’s Grove and Dr. Loomis confronts Dr. Wynn. Dr. Wynn reveals himself to be the leader of the Cult of Thorn and credits Dr. Loomis for being smart enough to recognize the evil resonating inside of Michael. He explains how Jamie’s baby represents a new cycle of the Thorn curse and invites Dr. Loomis to join him.
At the same time, Tommy finds Kara locked in a room in the compound and they’re able to avoid Michael long enough to search out the two children. In the hallway, Dr. Wynn and a team of cult surgeons walk into an operating room to perform their evil procedure. Tommy and Kara sneak into the adjoining room to find Danny and Steven.
Watching the doctors beginning to perform the cult ritual, they witness an angry Michael grab a surgical machete, break into the operating room and slaughter them all. I guess he was pissed that they were exploiting him for their own selfish needs. While most of the slaughter is showcased, Dr. Wynn’s death is off-screen and therefore ambiguous. I guess maybe the writers wanted to keep him around in case they needed the angle for a future sequel.
As Tommy, Kara and the kids run from a pursuing Michael, they stumble into a high-tech medical laboratory. Inside, Kara discovers tanks holding human fetuses and a chart of Celtic runes and scientific coding tied together with the ominous Thorn symbol. In a horribly-vague attempt at tying everything together, it is lamely implied that Dr. Wynn and his Cult of Thorn have been secretly trying and failing at genetically breeding evil monsters using Michael’s DNA to fertilize female patients. Apparently, Steven is the living result of one of these experiments that was performed on Jamie. Wow, just wow. The twists and turns and amount of Deus Ex Machina in this film are off the charts. Maybe someone will wake up at the end and it will have all been a dream. Fuck.
After uncovering the nefarious plot, Michael breaks into the room and Tommy injects him with something that incapacitates him and allows Tommy to bludgeon him to death with a lead pipe. Dr. Loomis, Tommy, Kara, and the children are about to escape when Dr. Loomis tells them to go on without him because he has something to take care of. A final shot of Michael’s mask lying on the ground with a needle next to it is shown with the sounds of Dr. Loomis’ screams echoing in the background. This ending could not have been more ambiguous and idiotic if it tried.
While the mystical elements of the film are somewhat interesting and it’s cool that they’re bringing in some of the black magic of Halloween 3 into the mix, the bullshit dumbing down of Michael’s reign of terror from a dark and heinous force to him being simply the pawn of some ancient cult is frightfully moronic. It’s infinitely more interesting and chilling that he was simply a brutal entity acting under his own insanity, killing everything he came across. You don’t need to understand anything past the fact that he’s an object of pure evil. The way the recent films have gone into some kind of meaningful backstory basically ruins the character of Michael Myers and his enigma of an origin.
I remember Halloween.