Friday, October 11, 2013

Film Review: HALLOWEEN 666: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS (1995, Joe Chappelle)

Stars: 2 of 5.
Running Time: 88 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew:  Donald Pleasence (THE GREAT ESCAPE, PHENOMENA), Kim Darby (DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, BETTER OFF DEAD), Paul Rudd (CLUELESS, WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER), Mitch Ryan (DARK SHADOWS, LETHAL WEAPON).  Music by Alan Howarth (ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, ARMY OF DARKNESS) and Paul Rabjohns (OPERATION CONDOR, CHILDREN OF THE CORN V) with the main theme by John Carpenter. 
Tag-line: "Terror never rests in peace!"
Best one-liner:  "Enough of this Michael Myers bullshit!"

HALLOWEEN 6 is not a good movie.  I'm sure ya don't need me to tell you that.  Its reputation lives somewhere in between "Paul Rudd's first movie" and "the worst of the HALLOWEEN series."   (Though there there is a dedicated cult of fans who insist that the rare, "Producer's Cut" of the film is far superior.)

Anyway, I saw HALLOWEEN 6 (the theatrical cut) recently for the first time and I couldn't help but feel it would make a great addition to the "Poor Man's Carpy" series.  Now, there are three points relating to Carpenter that I'd like to hit, so I'll be brief:

#1.  Donald Pleasence.

HALLOWEEN 6 was the late, great Donald Pleasence's penultimate movie, and his final HALLOWEEN appearance (the film is dedicated to his memory).  He's looking pretty grizzled and a little run-down, and he easily could have turned this into a phoned-in "paycheck" performance, but that trademark Pleasence pathos really shines through.  As a viewer, you project a little extra emotional weight onto the film, knowing that it's the final appearance of a such a beloved character and horror icon, and that effect is undeniable.  RIP, Donald.

#2.  Stomach-pounders.   Die hard fans of John Carpenter's THE FOG will remember the scene where Adrienne Barbeau's son says "Mom, can I have a stomach-pounder and a Coke?"  Now, what the hell is a stomach-pounder?  Hmm?
This has fueled much speculation amongst the most bored and obsessive of fans, with some believing it to be a reference to Pop Rocks, others believing it to mean "quarter-pounder" burger or ice cream or a type of cake, and others still speculating that it refers to "bad meatloaf."  So imagine my delight when in HALLOWEEN 6, the following line is uttered:

"This is the famous Tim Strode stomach pounder.  You down for the challenge?"

I have to assume this line is probably not ad-libbed and therefore the work of the writer, Daniel Farrands, whose contributions to NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, AMITYVILLE HORROR, and FRIDAY THE 13TH DVD bonus materials lead me to believe that he is quite the 80s horror aficionado.  Clearly, as a writer on HALLOWEEN 6, he is a Carpy enthusiast-  hence the obscure reference.

Here, in context, the stomach-pounder appears to be a Calvin & Hobbes-style "suicide drink" smoothie, a concoction of everyday grocery items that is blended into a disgusting result that the kiddies might think is "cool."  Though it doesn't definitively answer what the intended reference was in THE FOG, it's a fun easter egg for the true Carpy-freaks!


#3.  The return of HALLOWEEN III?

As the HALLOWEEN series progressed and John Carpenter officially had nothing to do with it (HALLOWEEN 4, HALLOWEEN 5), nutty attempts were made to "explain" the evil of Michael Myers– attempts that included a mysterious tattooed man in black, a druid "Cult of Thorn," unethical genetic engineering, villainous constellations, myths of Samhain, and a whole bunch of gobbledygook that belonged in a straight-to-video 90s Satan-worshipper movie.

Now, some thirteen years prior, the HALLOWEEN franchise had been nearly been derailed completely by a film I hold incredibly close to my heart:  HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH.  This film was notable for eschewing Michael Myers altogether and telling the saga of an evil cult of killer-robot-manufacturing Irish people living in a small town in California who are hell-bent (literally!) on killing the children of America by way of rigged masks that will turn them into rotting piles of snakes and spiders.  They are doing this so that people will take Halloween seriously again.

Most people hated this movie because Michael Myers wasn't in it, and apparently there wasn't enough Tom Atkins nudity.  So now, thirteen years later (spoooky!), the makers of HALLOWEEN 6 begin to jam-pack the film with just the sort of crazed, druid-infused conspiracy theory nonsense that turned fans off in the first place.  Is this an intentional homage to the greatness of HALLOWEEN III?  The series itself committing harakiri?  An attempt at a tie-in for "Cult of Thorn" merchandise at Hot Topic?  Who knows.

So yeah.  HALLOWEEN 6, ladies and gentlemen.  Now go ask your mothers if you can have a stomach-pounder and a Coke!  Stay tuned for more Poor Man's Carpy!

–Sean Gill

3 comments:

Mike B. said...

Ahh, I remember this one like it was yesterday. For folks like me who grew up on cable showings of Halloweens 4 & 5 before maturing and backtracking through the series, Part 6 here was our first "new" Halloween release and consequently a very big deal indeed! I spent waaaay too much of my final high school days discussing the significance of the mysterious black-hat-wearing man with my fellow Halloween-obsessed buddies (OMG that's the same guy who totally broke Myers out of jail in part 5!), and trying to spot clues to piece together a lot of crap that wasn't there. Of course, the truth is that we just weren't ready to admit that a Halloween movie could just plain stink (that realization fully took hold after the abomination that was Part 8). It was a more innocent time, when we could still get excited by the "Moustapha Akkad presents" intro, and not understand that what we were watching was just going to end up being "Paul Rudd's first movie," prominently featuring that one song that sounded like Alice In Chains but wasn't, that was seemingly on an endless loop on our local modern rock radio station that year. You're right as rain about Pleasance still giving it his all in this one, though, and it is kinda wistful in retrospect. As always, I appreciate the trip down memory lane, looking forward to more of these to come!

J.D. Lafrance said...

"Tom Atkins nudity"?! Dear lord, no! That might just throw the world off its ever lovin' axis!

Sean Gill said...

Mike,

Thanks for sharing your humorous and nostalgic recollections! I only saw this for the first time a few weeks back– I'd been told in my youth that I should only watch HALLOWEEN 1 and 2 if I wanted to preserve the sanctity of the series, and so I followed that advice. Foolishly, as it turned out, because HALLOWEEN III, which I saw for the first time about five years back, is a misunderstood masterpiece.

J.D.,

Hah, I knew you'd appreciate that!