Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers

The best “Halloween” sequel.
★★★½
Movie Review #1,022

halloween_the_curse_of_michael_myers

Miramax
Horror, Thriller
1 hour, 27 minutes
Rated R (strong horror violence, and some sexuality)
Released September 29, 1995
Directed by Joe Chappelle
Characters by Debra Hill and John Carpenter
Written by Daniel Farrands
Starring Donald Pleasence, Paul Stephen Rudd, Marianne Hagan, Mitchell Ryan, Kim Darby, Bradford English, Keith Bogart, Mariah O’Brien, Leo Geter, J.C. Brandy, Devin Gardner, Susan Swift, George P. Wilbur, Janice Knickrehm, and Alan Echeverria

We can appreciate the first four sequels (well, minus “Halloween III: Season of the Witch”) for their continuous expansion of the Michael Myers mythology, but “The Curse of Michael Myers” doesn’t seem to expand the series so much as flip it on its head. Finally, we have a movie that focuses on how the town of Haddonfield, Illinois is affected by the memory of Michael Myers. Some fear he’ll return, while some think that this time, he’s dead for good. And there are radicals on either end. There’s a group of townsfolk rallying on Halloween night, hoping to ban any celebration of Halloween because of the deadly Myers attacks associated. And on the other end, there is a cult that blends in with ordinary people by day, while at night assisting Myers in ridding all of his family. It just so happens that his niece Jamie Lloyd (introduced in the previous film) has given birth on October 30, 1995. Naturally, he and his followers go after both mother and child a day later.

Director Joe Chappelle places Tommy Doyle at the center. You might recognize the name if you’ve seen the first movie enough times. Remember that neighborhood kid Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) was babysitting for in the original “Halloween”? That was Tommy Doyle. He hasn’t featured in a “Halloween” film nearly as prominently as he does here, but his leading role is something we can expect. This is, after all, Paul Rudd’s debut role, and whether it comes as a surprise or not, his talent does show.

Practically every bit of corniness in the previous sequels, is replaced by the genuine horror of the first movie. Even though some of “The Curse of Michael Myers” features an intense amount of gore–and some damn good editing to keep it out of NC-17 territory–it’s not the gore this time that makes the movie so much fun to watch. It’s the fact that, for the first time in 17 years, the story is actually scary. Better yet, it’s clever. I wouldn’t say that Joe Chappelle is as savvy a director as John Carpenter was when he set out to helm the first “Halloween”, but he certainly does know a good horror film. 1978’s “Halloween” was notable for its frequent homages to Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”. A scream queen played by Janet Leigh’s daughter, a detective named Sam Loomis after Janet Leigh’s onscreen boyfriend in “Psycho”, and much more. Likewise, Chappelle seems to have his sights set on Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining”. A kid named Danny who has the power to hear voices. An unmistakable nod to the ax-in-the-door scene. A seemingly kind old woman who suddenly turns on the protagonists, and another homage to the Room 237 scene that is, in fact, set in Room 237 of a sanitarium. Of course, “The Curse of Michael Myers” deserves no comparison to “The Shining”. It’s not that great. But it is pretty great indeed.

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