Though some cult-horror fans still think of it as the sequel that got away, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers remains a flawed but worthy expansion of Michael Myers’s life as Haddonfield’s boogeyman. That the film’s production was tortured, requiring upward of 11 script revisions and the notoriously drastic removal of much of its gory violence and allusions to black magic, is more than apparent throughout. But the theatrical cut of the film is thankfully never so incoherent that it feels like a total mess.
The Curse of Michael Myers’s focus on the inherited aftermath of Michael’s various killing sprees presages Rob Zombie’s Halloween reboots by more than 10 years. Both of Zombie’s films, like this one, treat Michael as the embodiment of a legacy of fear. In all three films, Michael has a biographical history and a mythical one too. While the latter kind of contextualizing backstory never comes across as well as the former does in The Curse of Michael Myers, the film deserves recognition for attempting to do what Zombie did so well years later.
As its title suggests, The Curse of Michael Myers treats Michael like a ghost that Haddonfield’s residents all want to exorcise but simply can’t. Marianne Hagan stars as Kara Strode, the sister of Laurie Strode, the babysitter that Michael terrorized in John Carpenter’s Halloween. Kara’s a single parent whose father deeply resents her and whose son Danny (Devin Gardner) claims he can hear voices telling him to kill everyone. Meanwhile, Tim Strode (Keith Bogart), Debra’s brother, and his girlfriend, Beth (Mariah O’Brien), are determined to break the town’s habit of fearing Halloween eve by throwing a big holiday bash. Little do they realize that Michael is lurking about, waiting to kidnap and murder a baby that’s abruptly dropped into Debra’s lap.
The Curse of Michael Myers’s supernatural angle is understandably its weakest link, seeing as it was the aspect of the film that test audiences disliked the most. The original cut of the film was deemed too dark and too violent, and as such the focus on the occult side of Michael’s origins was naturally the first major plot points to undergo serious reworking. The fact that Michael was possessed by a demon at a young age is a clichéd last-minute change to his otherwise straightforward past. But that specific change is at least understandable in light of the film’s preoccupation with the occult.
The same can’t be said about Michael’s newly complicated obsession with the Strodes. The Curse of Michael Myers unsuccessfully hints at Michael being unable to touch Danny or his mother beyond a point because he’s bound to them by some quasi-supernatural relationship. That concept is too huge of a leap in logic to stomach, especially considering how much it changes Michael’s character. In this film, he’s no longer a guy that stalks the Strodes just because they live in his old house, but rather a murderous golem that has purposefully singled the Strodes out for reasons that aren’t clear.
The film is at its best whenever it treats Michael like an invisible trauma. Director Joe Chappelle infrequently proves that he gets Carpenter’s original Halloween is all about a mythic terror that periodically pops up to remind suburbanites that it’s real. But when he does, Chappelle capably repurposes visual cues used in the first film, like the terror of white sheets hanging out to dry or of a rattling washing machine.
Still, the fact remains that screenwriter Daniel Farrands originally wanted to make Michael a victim of a Celtic curse that compelled him to kill his entire bloodline. That decision to overburden Michael’s past with magical overtones is fundamentally a bad idea. It undercuts the character’s central ethos of contextless aggression by saddling Michael with a preposterous and weirdly specific new origin story. Michael could never be a very effective murderous ghost with all that new baggage.
At the same time, it’s great to see Farrands trot out old characters, like Donald Pleasence’s haggard and now decrepit Dr. Loomis (the actor died before parts of the finale could be reshot) and the random return of Tommy Doyle (Paul Rudd in his first film role), the boy that Laurie Strode originally babysat in the first Halloween. It’s too bad that The Curse of Michael Myers is as muddled as it is; it has a lot of potential, but it’s ultimately just an intriguing failure.
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment did nothing to improve on the audio quality of Dimension's previous DVD release of the film. As a result, the film's soundtrack sounds all-around flat and un-nuanced. The picture quality is marred by obvious edge enhancement and the film's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 has been unfortunately cropped to 1.77:1.
There are no extras featured on Echo Bridge's DVD release of the film.
Defending the theatrical cut of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers may be a fruitless task, but the film is the kind of missed opportunity that morbidly curious fans could get a kick out of.