Review – Halloween 6 (1995) & Florida Sun Grown cigar

The Doctor and his lifelong partner in partying, TNCC head honcho Matthew Cade, once again immerse themselves in all things Halloween!

Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers is an interesting film, to say the least. Although the Akkad family was still involved, Halloween 6 was released by Dimension Films, and the collective powers that be had to make a crucial decision on how to proceed with the franchise following the floating garbage heap that was Halloween 5. The options seem obvious: either wipe away the preceding events and start over fresh (known as a “reboot” today, but not in 1995 when computer lingo was far from commonplace) or somehow attempt to make sense of what has transpired and produce a true sequel. The latter path was chosen, and The Doctor will forever salute the courage involved with this decision. Scrapping everything would have been much easier, but those in charge decided to keep with the continuity.

These efforts must be appreciated regardless of your opinion on the outcome…

The production of Halloween 6 was not without its own set of difficulties. As the legend goes, the initial cut was resoundingly derided by audiences during the first round of test screenings. This led to a series of reshoots that resulted in the film that was released theatrically in the autumn of 1995. Cade and I enjoyed the theatrical release – after the Halloween 5 shitstorm and the subsequent six year wait, how could we not – but the specter of the hidden “Producer’s Cut”* hung over our heads for many years until a friend provided us with a grainy, bootleg DVD. A crisp, clean copy was eventually introduced on Blu-Ray with the 2014 Halloween boxed set. The two films have only minor deviations until the final stanza, when they deviate like a septum shattered by Ivan Drago’s fist. Originally Cade and I had planned to review only the Producer’s Cut, but after watching it again I was plunged into a state of vexation that troubled me for several hours. After a session of pondering aided by my girlfriend “Amber” – wink, wink, you pour her into a glass – I was struck by a flash of ethereal wisdom and decided to re-watch the theatrical cut as well. After all, experimentation in the name of science must be thorough.

THE FILM – HALLOWEEN 6: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS

Six years have passed since the disappearance of Michael Myers and his niece Jamie Lloyd at the hands of the mysterious Man in Black. He of the silver spurs is back, administering an underground facility that is straight out of a sword and sorcery movie or maybe even The Temple of Doom. Strange figures garbed in black robes perform pagan rituals by candlelight. The gothic lair has also served as Michael’s de facto home, where he is apparently kept and tended to as if he were The Rancor or some other creature of myth. Jamie** (J.C. Brandy) has been held captive in this multi-layered dungeon for the last six years. She has also been impregnated, assumedly against her wishes, since the timeline would have her at the ripe age of 14 when the film begins. After giving birth, Jamie escapes her hellhole with the help of a sympathetic nurse only to be dispatched in gruesome fashion by Myers in a barn further down the road. It was an ignominious end for the character of Jamie, making it painfully obvious that extricating something worthwhile from the Part 5 turd-pile wasn’t going to be easy. Jamie’s death turns out to be ancillary to the plot, however, as it’s Jamie’s baby that Michael and his Druid handlers are after for reasons that are never fully explained.

As an audience member, as long as we have Loomis onscreen we have hope!

Donald Pleasence returns for the fifth and final time as Dr. Loomis.*** Living comfortably in his tranquil country home and “very much retired” to use his own words, Loomis is sharing a drink with an old colleague named Dr. Wynn (film veteran Mitchell Ryan) when he overhears Jamie pleading for help via a radio call-in show. It’s off to Haddonfield once again, where along the way we learn that the Druidic symbol of The Thorn, in addition to representing some sort of astrological mambo jambo, also serves as Michael’s personal mark. Loomis is entirely familiar with this, even though it has never once been mentioned or alluded to in any of the previous Halloween films. Once again, the stink of Part 5 permeates the air with its putrescence and infiltrates our nostrils. An attempt had to be made to explain Michael’s origin, now that he has one. I don’t mean to be overly critical where the plot of Part 6 is concerned; nothing was really going to work after the Man in Black arrived on the scene. The title could have been Halloween 6: We Did The Best We Could or maybe even Halloween 6: Up Yours Halloween 5. Imagine that one on a marquee?

The Man in Black returns and reveals his identity. In truth, there could never have been a satisfactory answer.

The intersecting story lines of Part 6 involve the Strode family, who now inexplicably reside in the old Myers homestead, and Tommy Doyle, Laurie’s former babysitting fare from the original Halloween. Tommy is played by none other than Paul Rudd – or Paul Stephen Rudd, as he is billed in the credits – in his first film role. That’s right kids, twenty years before Ant Man, Paul Rudd cut his movie teeth on Halloween 6. He then seemingly ran away from the horror genre as quickly as possible, a decision that appears to have worked out well for him. Halloween 6 is not an adult-themed comedy, however, so none of what made Rudd famous is on display here. Still, there is an intensity to his performance that suggests bigger and better things might lie on the horizon (Quick aside rather than a lengthy footnote: some of The Doctor’s favorite Rudd-related works are Anchorman, Role Models, and Wet Hot American Summer. I liked Ant Man, but I am beyond worn out on superhero movies).

A young Paul Rudd places a call to his agent to find out how he got into this mess…

Tommy, now in his mid-twenties, lives in a Haddonfield boarding house and has been obsessed with Myers ever since Michael caused him to drop a pumpkin in the original Halloween (and no, I did not intend a double-meaning with my usage of the phrase “drop a pumpkin”. Look how naughty you are. Shame on you!). John Strode (Bradford English) ends up being one of the more memorable supporting characters in the entirety of the Halloween franchise. English owns the scenes he appears in as a burly, volatile asshole who basically terrifies his family when he isn’t drinking whiskey that he keeps in a desk drawer at his work office. His screen time is minimal, but Cade and I have been quoting every line that came out of John Strode’s mouth for far longer than either of us will admit to.

John Strode (Bradford English) on his morning stroll to take out the trash. What disturbed the neighborhood kids the most: the hatchet or the taut bath robe?

The supporting performances in Part 6 are better across the board than anything in Part 5, specifically Bradford English but also Leo Geter – whose early 80’s roles included Footloose and Silent Night, Deadly Night – as the acerbic radio shock-jock Barry Simms. It is often the work of professional actors like these – non-household names in small supporting roles – that serves to elevate a movie into something more entertaining than it otherwise might have been. I think many moviegoers fail to recognize this or the efforts of the players. Hopefully we have been able to bring attention to a few of these performers in our Halloween reviews.

I could write an entire thesis on the peculiarly dense character of Tim Strode (Keith Bogart) but I’m just not drunk enough to put myself through that… yet.

We are also treated to more of the lush Haddonfield scenery, from the eerie, small-town bus station to the leaf strewn yards of autumn in the Midwest. Unfortunately, the narrative eventually had to move from Haddonfield proper back to the underground lair from the film’s opening, and this is where things begin to get murky. The theatrical cut includes a scene where Myers goes apeshit and starts slaughtering his Druid keepers and doctors. It’s cool to look at it, but contextually I am not sure where we are going. What is the Man in Black and his Thorn cult ultimately trying to perpetuate? What are the respective fates of Jamie’s baby, Michael, and Dr. Loomis? All of this is left open to individual interpretation. I stand by my assertion that the theatrical cut of Halloween 6 is a case of making the most of an undesirable situation, but it’s still an enjoyable film. It also represents an elegy of sorts for Halloween – at least to those of us who knew it in the eighties – because the next installment would indeed be a reboot. And as much I do sincerely enjoy Halloween 6 for what it is, the reboot was probably necessary at that point, but we’ll tackle that later. Happy Trick or Treating.

By the end of both versions of Halloween 6, we were left standing there dumbfounded and confused just like Michael himself…

*The ending of the theatrical cut certainly leaves something to be desired, but… for years I had read how the Producer’s Cut was the better film and answered all of the questions that begged an answer. This turned out to be patently untrue. The ending of the Producer’s Cut is mystifyingly senseless, serving only to create more questions and answering nothing at all. I like a few of the smaller touches of the Producer’s Cut, but The Doctor is going to go against the grain and state that I prefer the theatrical cut. As both are now available, you can make your own decision.

Your favorite Doctor and Danielle Harris. She is as sweet and gracious as she is beautiful.

**Sadly, Danielle Harris did not return as the now teenaged Jamie in Halloween 6. The Doctor does not mean to discredit J.C. Brandy, who gave a decent performance in the few scenes that she appeared in. Still, it’s worth mentioning because it was a clear slight to Harris – who was wonderful as Jamie in the earlier films – and the fans, who love seeing the original performer reprise a role. There are rumors on the interwebs about how this came about, the most prevalent – and likeliest – being that the cheapskate bastards who made this film wouldn’t pay Harris her meager asking salary. Fucking bean counters.

Rest in peace, Donald Pleasance. There was only one of ye.

***Pleasence passed away in February of 1995, mere months after completing his work on Halloween 6. He looks tired and worn out in the film but still retains his commanding screen presence. Moustapha Akkad supposedly once asked Pleasance how many Halloween films he would be up for doing, to which Pleasance apparently replied, “I stop at twenty-two!”

THE CIGAR – FLORIDA SUN GROWN by DREW ESTATE

When I first had the idea of reviewing all of the Halloween film entries leading up to the most recent release this October, I planned on pairing each movie The Doctor reviews with a premium cigar that for whatever reason struck a chord with me as far as connecting to each individual movie. It could be a faint tie-in at best, but it would be personal and the pairing would make sense TO ME as a lifelong devotee of the Halloween series. That’s all that mattered as far as my thought process. As we began this jump into the mythological world of Haddonfield, I soon realized that this would be a perfect time to discuss and review some Drew Estate cigars that we had acquired throughout 2018 on our many adventures working for DE on the road doing various video and editing work for the company. So I will be reviewing a Drew Estate cigar within each of these initial posts (I imagine that I’ll be mixing in some non-DE offerings down the line but we shall see… there are no rules) AND I may break with TNCC tradition by rating some of the cigars as I go along. Why? Because it’s Halloween, my favorite time of year, and I’m the boss so I can do what I want. I hope you enjoy these posts as much as we are going to enjoy sharing them with you.

The Doctor’s not the only one who’s a fan of Danielle Harris! Or mixed drinks for that matter…

I go back and forth on which version of Halloween 6 I prefer but, after reading The Doctor’s excellent diagnosis above, I think I also side with the original theatrical cut overall. They’re both “a dog’s breakfast” in that they had to fit in so many random nonsensical things and try to make it all work somehow and, while both cuts completely fail from a cohesive storytelling standpoint, I still enjoy the shit out of both films and would watch either of them a thousand more times before rewatching any of Rob Zombie’s cinematic abortions.

so yeah… this was a thing that actually happened

For tonight’s cigar I chose a Drew Estate offering that also incorporates new and strange elements. The Florida Barn Smoker was our first excursion of 2018 and we received a mother load of an education on what it takes to grow a new strain of tobacco here in the grand ol’ USA, so tonight I’m excited to put Florida tobacco under the TNCC microscope…

Size: 6 x 52 (toro)
Wrapper: Brazilian Arapiraca Maduro
Binder: Honduran Habano
Filler: Florida Sun Grown Corojo ’99 ligero tobacco combined with seco and viso tobaccos from Nicaragua
Price: $13.00

PRE

   

The milk chocolate colored wrapper, with several large veins running down the body of the cigar, smells of rich earth and there’s a touch of sweetness when sniffing the foot. There’s just the right amount of give when squeezed between two fingers. Upon clipping the cap the cold draw revealed those same two elements – earth and a very faint sweetness.

1/3

Upon toasting the foot, I’m greeted with warm chocolate on the retrohale with earth and mild coffee on the draw. There’s zero trace of spice or pepper initially which is a pleasant surprise as that seems to be all I’m blasted with lately upon setting fire to a cigar. The draw is damn near perfect and the ash is bright white like Mikey’s mask (and much like my complexion BEFORE the TNCC headed down to the Florida Barn Smoker, after a day under the big Florida sun that would soon change). On a side note, I think The Shape’s mask in Halloween 6 is the best in the series after the original film by far. As many problems as this movie has, portraying Michael as an unstoppable force of evil personified is not one of them. Now back to the cigar! There’s a creaminess that joins the fray within the first inch or so and it adds a smoothness to the earthy profile that’s quite enjoyable.

I’ve smoked several FSGs in several different sizes and I’ve found red wine to be a beautiful pairing partner with this particular blend. The wine amps up that natural sweetness just a tad and it also seems to elevate a minor vanilla note in the cigar that otherwise doesn’t appear on the radar. Go ahead and pour yourself a glass… I’ll wait. There you go. You’re welcome.

2/3

   

The Florida Sun Grown toro is medium body and medium strength all the way. At the start of the second third, I do pick up the first sign of pepper on the retrohale (replacing the chocolate) but that creaminess is keeping it in check. It’s a nice change up and, honestly, it’s a welcome addition as the other elements mostly remain the same – earth, muted coffee, and cream. How’s that red wine treating you? Drew Estate and Corona Cigar Company also offer the FSG in a Limited Edition Trunk-Pressed Toro (6 x 54) and for that I’d recommend drinking an entire box of red wine. Trust me, I am the expert after all… The ash hangs on for days (much like my Florida sun burn) and it doesn’t fall off until the halfway mark. The smoke production pouring off the cigar is copious to say the least.

3/3

   

Man, there’s just something so unique about that 50/50 of cream and pepper on the retrohale now that I’m almost neglecting the draw and just concentrating on that. Which isn’t to say there’s nothing interesting happening on the draw as the coffee note picks up again in the final third and that initial chocolate flavor makes a minor comeback as well towards the end. With the added strength and boldness, this FSG ends memorably.

THE NUB

I can’t think of another cigar in the Drew Estate catalog that reminds me of the Florida Sun Grown and I’m guessing that’s the point. Unlike Halloween 6 which would be fucking impossible for a beginner that’s new to the Halloween film series to just jump in and watch cold turkey, I think the Florida Sun Grown would be a good cigar to hand over to a novice beginning smoker who’s not quite ready for a bold Liga Privada offering. There’s that classic Nicaraguan earth and flavors but it’s tempered by the inclusion of that cream so it ain’t going to scare anybody away (unlike the atrocious Halloween 5). But, AS IS the case with Halloween 6, it’s uniqueness and differences are also this cigar’s strengths. Seek it out and let me know what you think!

Halloween VI: The Curse of Michael Myers [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)


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Beyond The Pod

Brother of the Leaf, Filmmaker, Prophet, former Mr. South Dakota 1996. I was a bouncer on the child beauty pageant circuit until one too many juice boxes went missing and somebody had to take the fall. I was set up. Ok, I was thirsty. All that hairspray in the air dries out your throat like a motherfu... I apologize to no man. Now I host the Tuesday Night Cigar Club podcast.

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