Now, I don’t want to start any rumors, but this could be the film that killed Donald Pleasence. Sadly, our favorite Loomis passed on a few months before the movie was released-almost as if he knew something. That’s the sad news in regards to H6, the good news is it doesn’t suck nearly as much as 5 does. Of course H5 set a very low threshold, so it was almost impossible for this to be worse-and in less capable hands it certainly could have been a lot worse.
For those unfamiliar with the history of H6, the condensed version is that there’s a production print that varies to a certain extent from the theatrical release. It can be found on the internet if you know where to look, but I’m reviewing the released version, as that’s what most will be familiar with. There’s some interesting and extensive information out there about the issues regarding the production of this sequel.
The opening is almost a nightmare/hallucination as we’re not sure where we are or what’s going on. We’re disoriented almost as much as the woman on the gurney being wheeled down corridors lined with torches (this despite there’s electricity in the building, but hey, it looks cool). She gives birth, has the baby taken away, and then we hear some exposition about what’s happening. The girl is Jamie all grown up-well mostly anyway. She’s been impregnated by the leader of a Druidic cult, and her baby is going to be sacrificed. Already, there’s more plot going on than in 1, 2, and 4, and 5 put together. Now that’s not to say it’s a good story but there is a lot more of it. Before the child can be shishkabobbed a nurse helps Jamie and her baby escape. She steals a truck, ends up at bus depot, where MM tracks her down (he does remarkably well finding people considering he was blinded in H2). He finally kills Jamie, but he can’t find the kid.
Not to worry, because Tommy Doyle-you remember him from the first moviedon’t you? Laurie was babysitting him-finds the baby in the bus station. Tommy lives across the street from the Meyers house, which now has a family living there. In fact they’re relatives of the Strodes. Not the good kind of relatives, but the kind that come to visit for 3 days, stay a month, and burn holes in your furniture. Tommy also has a habit of spying on the nubile daughter while she undresses. So yeah, a bit of Rear Window thrown in, though Tommy is broken mentally, not physically.
Since they weren’t able to find the original actor who played Tommy, they cast a very young Paul Rudd, and it’s nice to see his career survived H6. To be truthful, he’s very good here, and though he may be a bit creepy and pervy, he’s also likable. We also see Dr. Loomis, now retired and writing his memoirs (although you can’t see what he’s typing, I imagine it’s All work and no play makes Sam a dull shrink, over and over again). On a serious note, you can tell Mr. Pleasence is ill, and that the cane isn’t simply for the character this time. His voice is raspy, nearly gone (sounding like me a bit on recent Imaginariums). It’s kind of sad, but also a bit heartening because he did quite a bit on the movie. Once the end credits roll, you see a dedication to him, and I admit I got a lump in my throat and felt bad about how much I’ve disliked his character.
I could go on talking about the story, but it would take up the rest of the essay, and really it’s kind of worth seeing it for yourself. Does any of it make a lick of sense? No, not really. As Norm McDonald would say, “Ridiculous! Absolutely ridiculous!”. It involves druids, a cult, runes and a lot of silliness in order to explain why Michael is unstoppable. Director Joe Chappelle (who went on to direct the last good Hellraiser sequel right after this-Hellraiser IV), manages to keep things moving at a brisk pace. He wisely avoids having a love interest between Kara (whose son Danny also hears the same voice MM did telling him to kill), and Tommy. Left to the imagination, you can imagine the 4 of them setting up house together, and that actually made me smile a bit. Chappelle also isn’t shy about using blood, and FX. While the sequels did get more violent and bloody, up to this point I think H6 is the bloodiest of the bunch, but not overdone.
The biggest issue I had with his direction are the silly jump scares for no apparent reason other than to annoy you. Having some is understandable, but I think he overdid it a bit. Adding the sharp piercing music timed to the scare makes them even worse (and one of my pet peeves in horror movies). He gets good performances from everyone, though Rudd is a stand out, as is the kid who plays Danny. If nothing else, the Halloween series has been lucky in having some phenomenal kid actors.
While the story is absurd, the characters aren’t nearly as moronic as they usually are, and for a change they’re all likable, aside from Kara’s abusive father. The dialogue is only painful in a couple of places, and of course it’s worth watching just for a reaction shot from Rudd towards they very end of the movie. It’s unintentionally hilarious. At least I think it’s unintentional. The make up effects are top notch, and perhaps the biggest change is MM learns how to walk at a brisk pace! Running still seems to allude him, but at least it’s not his slow walk anymore.
Maybe I liked this one more than I should because 5 was so bad, but of the post H3 sequels this is the one I’ve enjoyed the most so far. How much anyone else does, depends on how much they can set aside their incredulousness, but hell, if I can do it, anyone can.
Tomorrow, it’s 20 years later, does anyone care? We’ll find out in Halloween: