I’m sure Paul Rudd would like us to forget the time he faced down an overweight, white-faced Michael Myers. But I’ll never forget.
Many people would say that the Halloween series jumped the shark around about part four (we don’t count part three). Others would argue that things didn’t really go south until the introduction of Michael’s psychic connection to his niece, Jamie, in part five.
But just about everyone agrees that the series completely went off the deep end with the introduction of the absurd “Druid Cult” explanation of Michael’s madness in The Curse of Michael Myers.
It’s an insane film. It breaks the cardinal rule of over-explaining your villain. It makes Michael less scary. And dammit if I don’t enjoy the hell out of every minute of it.
If you’ve read the site at all, it’s probably no surprise that I have Halloween on the brain recently. The trailer for Rob Zombie’s H2 just came out, and I’m struggling with the total reinvention of the character, the plot, the tone, and even the music of the original.
In bitching about Zombie’s film, it’s easy for me to forget how far the original series strayed from its origin. In Curse, Michael is an overweight, ridiculously tall unstoppable killer who is protected by a group of insane doctors wearing pointy hats. But you know what? He’s got the mask, he’s got the attitude, and he’s got the music. He’s still Michael Myers, even though the rest of the film is a bad Dario Argento/Clive Barker ripoff of the world of the original film.
But I might be getting ahead of myself for the uninitiated out there. Let’s do a series recap.
Part 1: A ten year old kills his sister, gets locked away for fifteen years, and returns to his hometown to kill his other sister, Laurie. Part 2: He keeps trying to kill his other sister. FAIL! Part 3: Omitted for personal reasons. Part 4: They write Laurie out and Michael chases her young daughter, Jamie. Part 5: Jamie has a psychic connection with Michael…he chases Jamie again, and gets put in jail. Then a silhouette man with a cowboy hat breaks him out.
Got all that? Good.
When we begin our journey into Halloween 6, we know something is off. Doctors wheel a girl through what can only be described as a dank dungeon. The girl gives birth, and it becomes clear that Jamie Lloyd has had a baby–Michael’s great nephew.
Needless to say, Michael shows up and tries to kill everyone. While he manages to dispense with Jamie, her son is hidden away. And through an unnecessarily complicated series of events, the crying babe ends up in the hands of Paul Rudd–who plays a grown-up version of Tommy Doyle from the original Halloween.
From there things start to get less straight-forward. Tommy “Paul Rudd” Doyle has a theory that Michael is actually under the Druidic “Curse of Thorn,” meaning he has to kill his entire family. He meets up with Kara Strode (Marianne Hagan) and her young son–who is being tempted to “kill for him” by, you guessed it, the cowboy-hat-wearing silhouette man from Halloween 5.
Wow, when you type it all out like that, it seems kind of silly, doesn’t it?
But something holds it together, and that something is the acting stylings of Mr. Paul Rudd. That’s right, the man isn’t just funny. He can also come across as terribly creepy–on the verge of obsession.
In fact, Rudd’s dramatic speech delivery and general gravitas rivals that of Donald Pleasance’s Dr. Loomis, prompting many fans to assume Tommy would become the de facto caretaker of Loomis’s quest against evil incarnate.
Instead, Rudd did The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
Rudd manages to bring a serious creepiness and plausibility to what is an admittedly silly conceit. He never blinks at the idea of an unstoppable killer, and his childhood obsession with Michael permeates his entire performance. The first time he sees Michael is played to perfection. There is absolute terror, yes, but there is also wonder, amusement, and nervousness. It works to sell the moment in which the character stops what he’s doing and freezes, prompting the audience to scream out “Run, asshole!”
Not to mention the fact that, at the end of the movie, he does what you would think every character in these movies would do: he beats the shit out of Michael with a lead pipe until there’s not much left but an oozing grease spot.
Other than a nice head explosion, some flashing lights, and a series of ridiculous revelations, there really isn’t much in the rest of the movie that I’d call “good.”
I can’t help enjoying every moment of the film, though, and mostly for nostalgic reasons.
See, I always tell people that I grew up on horror movies. I watched The Exorcist when I was about nine, I saw every Nightmare on Elm Street I could, and I would stay up all night on Halloween to watch the Friday the 13th marathon. For some reason, though, I always missed Halloween.
I didn’t know who Michael Myers was until one fateful night when I went to spend the night at a friend’s house. He talked his Mom into letting us rent a Halloween film. And for whatever reason, we ended up picking up part six. I’m guessing it was brand new.
The movie blew my mind. Michael was by far the scariest slasher villain I’d ever encountered. Even at that young age, Jason and Freddy seemed like caricatures, and even though Halloween 6 was totally silly, it never allowed itself to get jokey.
Since part six was my first introduction to the characters, I took all the silly Druidic explanations as canon. When I explored the rest of the series, I never even questioned the fact that each installment was carefully planned until it built to the big reveal of Michael’s origin.
Of course, then I got older, smarter and more cynical, and I realized how unplanned the whole series was.
I have to admit, though, and part of me appreciates that the series tried to do something different. I like that the filmmakers had the balls to try and inject a supernatural reason for the existence of a clearly supernatural killer. They even tried to explain elements of the original film (Dr. Wynn, Michael’s lack of supervision) that didn’t make much sense. I dig that, even if it doesn’t really work 100%.
So “A” for effort, guys. The rest of the world might have discarded the film, but I’ll always love it for its ambition and for how it introduced me to my favorite slasher villain of all time.