The Test of Time: Halloween 6: Producer’s Cut

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

We all have certain movies we love. Movies we respect without question because of either tradition, childhood love, or because they’ve always been classics. However, as time keeps ticking, do those classics still hold up? Do they remain must see? So…the point of this column is to determine how a film holds up for a modern horror audience, to see if it stands the Test of Time.

DIRECTED BY JOE CHAPPELLE

STARRING PAUL RUDD, MARIANNE HAGAN, DONALD PLEASANCE, J.C. BRANDY, MITCHELL WYNN

With just 15 days and counting, allow us to be among the first to wish all you Arrow in the Headers a Happy Halloween! Let us know below, do you have any killer-cool plans for the night? If not, perhaps we can offer you the worst of likely ires – the Curse of Michael Myers!

Indeed, one option this October 31st is to spend a little downtime with our favorite Halloween homicide, Mr. Michael Myers. But be honest, how many of you have seen HALLOWEEN 6: THE PRODUCER’S CUT (GET IT HERE)? If you haven’t, you ought to do so ASAP, as it is not only the superior version to Joe Chappelle’s theatrical cut but story-wise, it also differs drastically from what was shown in theaters. If all you’ve seen is the theatrical cut, chances are you still have several head-scratching questions that do not make a lick of sense unless you contextualize them within the framework of the producer’s cut. A cut, mind you, fashioned by producers Paul Freeman, Moustapha and Malek Akkad. And while we’ll carve up some of the major differences between cuts, we’re more interested in examining how well, or how poorly, the producer’s cut has held up over the past 24 years. Sound good? Let’s go! It’s HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS vs. The Test of Time below!

THE STORY: The story behind the story is complicated enough to fill a 400-page tell-all. At the core, however, is the fact that the HALLOWEEN franchise was acquired by Dimension Films and those handsy Weinstein brothers. When the original cut of the film, dubbed the Producer’s Cut, tested poorly, the Weinsteins ordered immediate reshoots and re-edits. The result grossly shredded the original story written by Daniel Farrands in favor of far more gore, less Loomis (as Donald Pleasance died before the reshoots took place), a lame-ass rock soundtrack, about eight minutes of less runtime, and a completely different ending. The slapdash, pell-mell theatrical cut – while fast-paced and extremely violent – was summarily dismissed by ardent HALLOWEEN fanatics and casual horror fans alike. Rightly so!

As for the original script, the P-Cut made an admirable effort to clean up – and clear up – the mystery man in black introduced in HALLOWEEN V. To accommodate such continuity, Farrands incorporated an element we hadn’t seen in a HALLOWEEN flick: black magic and Celtic lore. The mystery man in black seems to preside over a supernatural occurrence whereby, when the stars perfectly align to form the “Thorn” rune symbol, Michael Myer’s malefic, murderous mannerisms become triggered. Tommy Doyle (Paul Rudd in his first film), the little boy Laurie Strode babysat in the OG, is obsessed with Myers and collects the Celtic rune stones as he awaits the Cult of Thorn star alignment. Cue the curse!

Kara Strode (Marianne Hagan) and her family have unknowingly moved into the Myers’ ill-fated abode, which sends Michael on a fresh rampage. All the while, Jamie Lloyd’s (J.C. Brandy replacing the fan-favorite Danielle Harris for no good reason at all) storyline is lazily shoehorned in to give closure to the character, yet furthers the dramatic arc when Jamie gives birth to a baby born out of incestuous rape. Yes, Michael raped Jamie! As Sam Loomis comes out of retirement to quash Myer’s reign of slaughter, a cultish conspiracy of deadly dark arts, lead by the nefarious Dr. Wynn (Mitchell Ryan), who claims himself Michael’s guardian, comes home to roost.

WHAT HOLDS-UP: It’ll be a bit tricky to avoid turning this into a comparison/contrast article between cuts, but let’s try to assess the merits of what still works well in the P-Cut. As the only HALLOWEEN flick to be filmed during the fall, one thing that still translates well across both versions is the eerie autumnal atmosphere. It sounds mundane, but one of the major appeals of HALLOWEEN is viscerally evoking the holiday and the time of year it occurs in. HALLOWEEN 6 does a great job of establishing a chilly autumn vibe, what with the preponderance of wafting fog, crackling lightning, stormy gusts, decaying foliage and the like. The movie has a nightmarish tinge to it from the jump, namely, in the surreal ambiance, it establishes early on. This part of the film holds up very well today, and outside of the original, feels the most like Halloween than any other franchise chapter save the 2018 rehash.

Another thing that holds up in the P-Cut is the iconic John Carpenter musical theme. A theme, mind you, that was stupidly ditched from the theatrical cut in favor of same lame-ass, trendy grunge rock. By reinserting the infamous score, the P-Cut retains a proprietary consistency at the very least and a more lastingly recognizable HALLOWEEN affectation at the very best. Simply put, the movie feels far more complete with the Carpenter theme included. By comparison to the T-Cut, the editing also holds up much better than that of the P-Cut, which adds this ridiculous lightning-strobe FX in between shots as a way to seem flashier. The P-Cut loses all that nonsense in favor of a traditional editing method, which is not only more pleasant than the former but holds up ten times a sturdily.

The grisly kills in HALLOWEEN 6 also remain quite durable, although I do tend to prefer the extremity of the reshoots. In this regard, I think the perfect version of the film exists somewhere between the exorbitant gore of the T-cut and the story conclusion of the P-cut. I like the gnarly hail-bail thresher shot of Jamie getting gored and gutted to death in the T-cut more than the tamer shot of Jamie being stabbed below the frame in the original. The one death that goes way over the top in the T-cut – the death of John Strode (Bradford English) – is more convincing in the original, where he is stabbed into an electrical mainframe that shocks him to death. In the reshoot, dude foams at the mouth until his head explodes!

Yet, the most durable aspect of the P-cut, given the storyline it introduces, is the alternate ending. Instead of a typical slasher ending where Myers conducts a hospital massacre, the ending of the P-cut hews to the Cult of Thorn plotline presented to us at the beginning of both versions. Instead of the medical massacre, the ending of this version features Kara being kidnapped by Dr. Wynn and his black magic disciples. Tommy stumbles on the cabal and rescues Kara before pulling out the rune stones and, in the nick of time, utters the word “Samhain.” This reverses the Curse of Michael Myers and stops the killer dead in his tracks. In the end, as Loomis fumbles his way towards Myers, the bogeyman escapes by disguising himself as the man in black. Dr. Wynn is knocked out and left behind in Myers’ mask. Sure, a giant WTF moment transpires, but at least an attempt is made to connect the dots given to us in the beginning. The T-cut makes no such effort and baldly reduces the flick to an unwatchable mess of a generic slasher outing.

WHAT BLOWS NOW: To be honest, while the P-cut is vastly superior, I don’t think either version is very good nowadays. I mean, while I can appreciate the attempt made to conclude the mystery man in black’s unneeded storyline, I never liked the inclusion of it in the first place. The Cult of Thorn angle is pretty damn weak, to begin with, and steers the mythos of Myers in a misguided direction. When Loomis suddenly finds the Thorn symbol tattooed on his arm at the end of the P-cut, more questions are raised than answered. It’s just that the T-cut is even more confusing and far less satisfying. However, what blows now is the failure to recast Danielle Harris as Jamie. Cheap-ass producers wouldn’t give her the extra $5,000 or so she asked for, and damn near bastardized the franchise to pinch a penny. F*ck all that!

THE VERDICT: This is a tough one to call. While the P-cut remains superior to the T-cut, only parts of it defy the test of time in 2019. The Halloween atmosphere, iconic music, downplayed deaths, and organic conclusion are among its strong suits when viewed today. However, the Man in Black subplot, while explored more sensibly, still leaves us scratching our heads a bit in the end. All told, the best version of HALLOWEEN 6: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS probably lies somewhere between the current states of both versions. Perhaps a fan cut is to fuse the unbounded gore of the T-cut with the diegetic continuity of the P-cut!

GET HALLOWEEN 6 THE PRODUCER'S CUT HERE

Source: Arrow in the Head

About the Author

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Jake Dee is one of JoBlo’s most valued script writers, having written extensive, deep dives as a writer on WTF Happened to this Movie and it’s spin-off, WTF Really Happened to This Movie.