There was a bit of a tradition back in the 1990s for long-running horror franchises to dispense with the numbering, as if making a “part 6” was a bit embarrassing. You got “Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare”, “Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday” (neither of which were the final films in their respective series, by the way), and every “Hellraiser” and “Child’s Play” film past part 3.
There are two things about this film that might be interesting to the modern viewer. First up is the “introducing and starring” credit for one Paul Rudd, future A-lister, but more on him later. Second is the rather bizarre production this film had. Planned for the year after part 5, the poor performance of that film and all sorts of legal troubles meant they didn’t go back to the series til 1995. Donald Pleasance had aged a heck of a lot in the last six years and sadly died after principal photography had ended: but the original cut tested very badly, and due to the feuding groups who had a financial stake in it, reshoots were required, which involved some hasty reworking of the plot to remove him. And I mean hasty!
Michael Myers, it turns out, is the recipient of a curse, the “Mark of Thorn”. There are druids, and the “Thorn” rune, and a child is chosen from each tribe to carry the curse, and they had to kill their blood relatives on Samhain in order to stop a demon from spreading sickness and causing destruction. The mark also, apparently, makes the killer indestructible, for no reason whatsoever. That it takes Michael nearly 20 years to get down to the last member of his family and the demon has spread no sickness or destruction might just indicate to the druids that they’re wasting their time, but such questions are never asked.
At the end of part 5, Michael is kidnapped from a police station by a mysterious Man in Black, who blows it up and kills everyone inside (he doesn’t appear to have any supernatural abilities, so how he did it is another question left unanswered. Also best left unanswered is why they didn’t help him get out of the asylum where he’s locked up in part 1, or the hospital in part 4). Jamie is kidnapped too, and when she’s 15, it’s implied but not shown that Michael rapes her and she gives birth to his child. When we meet her at the beginning of part 6, she’s managed to escape from the weird cave / hospital base that the cult is operating out of, and Michael, needing to kill her in order to…get rid of the curse, become mortal and die in excruciating agony from his previous injuries?…gets to chasing. Also, if he’s got to kill his family, creating new ones would seem to be a bit counter-productive.
Paul Rudd is Tommy, one of the kids that Laurie was babysitting in part 1. He is me in my early 20s, only a great deal more attractive – posters for obscure bands and arthouse movies, hipster fridge magnets, moody expression, and so on. He’s living in a boarding house across the road from the old Myers home, waiting for Michael to come back, and…I feel the more I unpack this film, the crazier it gets. It’s like zooming in on a fractal image and only seeing more layers of complexity, but in this case it just keeps on getting stupider the more you look at it.
I think one more example of how oddly this film gets going, though. Jamie runs to a bus station, trailing blood from the phone booth to the bathroom, and leaves her child in a cupboard while she nips off to get brutally murdered by Michael in the grand tradition of “final girl from the previous movie dies in the first half hour of the new one”. Tommy, analysing the phone call she made to the local radio station (there are no police in this film, at all) figures out where she went and goes there the next day. Despite it being busy, no-one’s cleaned the trail of blood up, and evidently the toilet wasn’t used as he discovers the baby where she left it.
The Strode family has moved into Michael’s old house, and apart from providing cannon fodder and acting work for the mum from “Better Off Dead”, one of my all-time favourite films, it gives us Kara and her eight-year-old son Danny, who may well be the next recipient of the curse. They meet up with Tommy and together with Dr Loomis they try and stop Michael, one last time.
The final release version of this is so thoroughly awful that I’m genuinely amazed that anyone thought it was okay to put out. I just can’t fathom it. They keep trying to remind you of part 1 and how good it was, but all it actually makes you think is “I wish I was watching part 1 again”. The last half hour is really just a random selection of scenes which bear only the faintest relation to each other, but you’ll no doubt ponder on just what Michael’s relationship with the rest of the cult is, and why none of them are also indestructible, immortal killing machines. You’ll wonder why he’s developed a taste for impaling people on stuff and twisting people’s necks, as he does both a lot. You’ll realise that most film writers, directors and producers are talentless chancers who just have more money and connections than normal people like you or I.
Sorry kids, but SPOILERS. I need for the sake of my own sanity to unpack the ending, and knowing how it ends will only make the rest of the film more bizarre, should you choose to watch it later. After the ludicrous reveals of who’s in the cult, Michael (for reasons which are at best faintly implied, and at worst left out) gets annoyed at how they’ve treated him and slaughters them all, but he still wants to kill the rest of his family too. He is finally put down by having multiple injections of some corrosive substance and getting battered with a steel pipe by Tommy, and when green slime starts oozing out of his mask, it looks like Michael is finally done for. Unless you’ve ever seen a film, of course. Tommy, Kara and Danny are about to drive off, rather than do anything silly like wait for the police, when Dr Loomis tells them he has unfinished business inside. The last shot of the last film of Donald Pleasence’s career is of Michael’s mask, laid on the floor where his body was, and Loomis’ scream dubbed in from the end of part 4, cut to black, “In Memory of Donald Pleasence”. Oh my god!
There’s a “producer’s cut” of this film, which was originally just sold as a bootleg at horror conventions but has finally been cleared up and released in the official blu-ray box set. Hilariously, it sounds even stupider, with a black magic ending that keeps Donald Pleasence in the series, and having Jamie survive her initial attack from Michael.
It’s so strange that I can’t hate it as much as I hate part 5. The “huh, I guess we were drugged” scene is one of the most bizarre non sequiturs in film history, and there’s a rich bounty for the bad movie enthusiast. I do like that they don’t spend much time trying to kill Michael, as there’s not a lot of tension in that, although we’re two years away from “Scream” and the self-aware slasher villains. There’s not a single scene in this that manages to hold up to the slightest scrutiny, and for that it ought to be…well, what’s one step above “ignored forever”?
Rating: thumbs down