Halloween in September?

Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers is currently streaming on Netflix.

Halloween 6

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) – Rated R

Six years after Michael Myers last terrorized Haddonfield, he returns there in pursuit of his niece, Jamie Lloyd, who has escaped with her newborn child, for which Michael and a mysterious cult have sinister plans.”

We’ve given him the power, the gift of thorn. I am its deliverer. I follow it, act as its guardian! I protect Michael, watch over him. And… now it’s time for another. Now it’s time for you, Doctor Loomis.”

Does the above quote sound confusing? Perhaps even non sequiturish? Well, it is pretty representative of this film as a whole. This film is an unbelievable (in more ways than one) mess.

The movie starts by recapping the end of Halloween 5. This is perfectly reasonable as seven years have passed since that movie. The problem is that, like the serials of old, they change something significant in the retelling. For some reason, Jaime has been kidnapped too instead of just Michael. This unfortunate retconning would be repeated in the, also on Netflix and also awful, Halloween Resurrection. Not only that but the mysterious Man in Black who did the kidnapping is Sir Not-Appearing-in-this-Film.

Donald Pleasence again returns as Dr. Loomis. Loomis proves almost as unkillable as Michael Myers himself. Unfortunately, Donald Pleasence passed away during the production. He appears to have finished filming his part but the film went into extensive reshooting without him. It does not seem to have mattered though as the director Joe Chappelle found him boring and cut a lot of his scenes. Seriously, easily the best actor in the film (and the previous two Halloweens) and you cut his scenes?

Scream queen Danielle Harris wanted to reprise her role as Jaime from Halloween 4 and 5 but Dimension films wouldn’t pay her $5,000 asking price. Seriously. So they got an actress named J.C. Brandy to play her. The actor who originally played Tommy Doyle did not have an agent so a young Paul Rudd was cast.

The main problems seem to have been a series of arguments between the director and producer leading to constant script rewrites while on set. This would be okay if they made sense but alas this was not the case. The original cut did not fare well so there were extensive reshoots with a constantly changing script. The final cut is incomprehensible.

The Curse of Michael Myers is a very apt, ironic subtitle for the film. It was suggested by writer Daniel Farrands, perhaps his biggest contribution to the film as I have difficulty believing that the incomprehensibility stemmed only from the director’s interference.

Since we have a beginning that’s basically a lie, what can we do for an ending? I know! We can leave the fate of three completely different characters up in the air. Did x, y, or z die? Well, that’s completely up to you dear viewer.

While the beginning is a lie and the ending a complete mystery, the middle isn’t any better. We bounce around from place to place until we end up in the cultists’ underground lair. Yes, you read that right. /sigh.

The original rejected cut is often referred to as the Producer’s Cut. It was a hot bootleg item at conventions. It was a nice bonus to purchasers of the limited edition 15 disc Halloween collection on Blu-Ray (not the standard 10 disc set). Thankfully it is being released as a standalone disc on September 15th. Currently it is priced at a very modest $7.99.

I’m looking forward to watching it later this month though my understanding is that the movie is still a complete mess, just a different one.

Shakespeare week – Romeo + Juliet

This is Shakespeare week. One of the things I most enjoy about our local Shakespeare company is the unique spin they put on his plays. One of the more unique movie adaptations of Shakespeare is Romeo + Juliet by Baz Luhrmann.

WATCH: Romeo + Juliet (1996) – Rated PG-13 for scenes of contemporary violence and some sensuality.

“In director Baz Luhrmanns contemporary take on William Shakespeares classic tragedy, the Montagues and Capulets have moved their ongoing feud to the sweltering suburb of Verona Beach, where Romeo (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Juliet (Claire Danes) fall in love and secretly wed. Though the film is visually modern, the bards dialogue remains intact as the feuding families children pay a disastrous cost for their mutual affection.”

“The hurt cannot be much” – “Twill serve – ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man.”

Right off the bat there is no mistaking Romeo + Juliet for the stately Franco Zeffirelli version (the previous gold standard for Romeo & Juliet adaptations – currently also available on instant Netflix). Romeo + Juliet opens with a TV newscaster reading from the prologue and quickly segues into a helicopter overview of Fair Verona Beach.

The hyper-kinetic stylings of Baz Luhrmann would seem to be antithetical to a proper rendition of Romeo & Juliet yet it works. The entire film can be watched just for the visuals as each scene is filled with explosions of color and music. There are many inventive modern updatings such as guns named “sword” and “rapier” and the truck called “Post Haste Delivery”.

Baz Luhrmann is clearly fond of male pecs – not only do all the young men appear partially or entirely shirtless but even Pete Postlethwaite as Father Laurence, a character one would imagine clothed in a particular fashion, is seen instructing young boys while half-naked. I will go ahead and guess that this movie predates the massive Catholic priest scandals. Juliet is also topless in a scene but only hr back is shown.

The performances are all over the map. Thankfully, Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes are wonderfully fresh faced and intense as the doomed couple. Diane Venora plays mother to Juliet quite well but her accent slips terribly from scene to scene, even from line to line. Brian Dennehy is wasted as Ted Montague but Paul Sorvino is surprisingly restrained as Fulgencio Capulet.

Many of the other actors have their performances turned up to 11. Harold Perrineau (Michael from the TV series Lost, also available on instant Netflix) does a delightful job of playing a deliriously over-the-top and seriously deranged Mercutio. John Leguizamo is filled with bitterest gall as Tybalt. Jaime Kennedy is his usual screwball self as Sampson, a “Montague boy”.

Afterthought: while I highly recommend this film, Romeo is hardly a sympathetic character. He mopes around coveting Rosaline, drops a tab of Ecstasy, crashes a party, and promptly forgets all about Rosaline when he spies Juliet. He then inadvertently causes the death of his friend, guns down an unarmed cousin of his wife, and performs a few more heinous acts on his way to the tragic finale.

People Watch: Look for currently popular comedian Paul Rudd as Dave Paris and noted character actor M. Emmet Walsh as the apothecary.