The following is a scary story of what it was like to go see a movie before the Internet happened.
September 29th, 1995. I arrive at the Showcase Cinemas in Lawrence, MA. It is a full 90 minutes before the 7:30 showing of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, and I am there early in order to buy my ticket before it could possibly sell out. I'm with my buddy, whose mom had just dropped us off as we were both 15 and thus not yet able to drive. But we made a grave error - she drove away before we had actually bought our tickets, and by cruel twist of fate, the box office teller refused to sell us minors a ticket to this R rated movie without parental permission. And again, this was 1995, so we couldn't just call my friend's mom's cell to have her turn around and give the OK. So I called my mom (whose job it was to pick us up) and had her drive down to the theater - as we panicked that it might sell out in the meantime - for the sole purpose of saying "Yes, they can see this movie." (and that's how cool my mom was/is - she was the one who rented Halloween 4 and 5, so she probably wouldn't have minded seeing it too, but didn't stick around and "embarrass" me even though she'd have to return 88 minutes later).
So now we're all set, we sit down for the movie. Crisis is over, this is going to be great! And then.... wait, huh? "What the hell is going on?" I thought. "Where are all the explanations they talked about in those Fangoria articles I read 800 times this month? Where's the footage I saw in the trailer? WHERE THE HELL IS LOOMIS???"
For a year or so, I'd have no idea - I just assumed Fangoria was lying to me. Nowadays, not only would I not have had any trouble buying my ticket because I would have done it online, but chances are if there were any crazy production issues like this film faced, they would have been reported on by now on all the major horror sites. But no, back then, it wasn't until late 1996, when the Internet started blooming, that we got some light shed on the subject: the studio had re-cut and re-shot the film after a test screening yielded some less than favorable results. In addition to an entirely different third act, this re-Shape-ing (heh) almost completely removed Donald Pleasence's character from the film, as they thought he was "too old" and that no one cared about him. They also added gore and excised most of the film's exposition, leaving nothing but a fast paced, largely incoherent mess. It wasn't terrible (we'd see what a TRULY terrible Halloween movie looked like in 2002), but it was hardly the film anyone expected, nor did it rejuvenate fan fervor after the similarly disappointing Halloween 5. As a result, the next film, 1998's H20, completely ignored the previous three films and picked up from Halloween II, leaving Curse's cliffhanger ending forever a mystery for fans.
Thankfully, some brave soul(s) saw fit to release the original version of the movie into the hands of bootleggers and traders, and for the past 16 years or so it's been pretty easy to find for anyone who wanted to see it. But those copies have been pretty poor even by bootleg standards - the image was blurred (at best you're probably looking at a DVD transfer of a 2nd generation VHS copy) and the sound was muddled - the movie made more sense, but you had to strain your eyes and ears for it to happen! And so whenever screenwriter Dan Farrands has appeared at a convention or even walked down the street, someone has asked him if this version would ever officially see the light of day, and the answer is always "We hope so!".
Well, we're finally getting closer. I had already planned to show the theatrical version of the film this Saturday, October 26th as part of my monthly "Horror Movie A Day presents" screening series at the New Beverly (check out the event poster by Jacopo Tenani above and more HERE), and incidentally as soon as I announced the screening someone asked "Producer's cut?". It wasn't fun letting that guy (or the many others who asked) down, but as far as I knew there was no 35mm print of that version, and there's no way in hell I would want to show one of those blurry ass bootlegs off a DVD. At best I hoped maybe Farrands would have some new info to share during our pre-movie Q&A. But then, just this week, Farrands and producer Malek Akkad sprung a surprise on me - they had a 35mm print of the original cut! As far as we know, it's only shown that one time for the test screening (and perhaps again for the cast and crew who saw their work otherwise mangled by the studio), so this is a HUGE "get" and a once in a lifetime opportunity to see it on the big screen in 35mm. No, it doesn't mean that the film will be getting a DVD/Blu-ray release for sure, but it's certainly a big step forward, as the studio had to sign off on us showing it and they were totally cool with it.
So now it's your turn. If the screening is a big success (especially during a tough time of the year - it's the weekend before Halloween, there are millions of events going on around town, etc) then the studio will finally see the value in putting this version out there for fans to see - and BUY LEGALLY. The elements exist, Farrands and Akkad are obviously interested, but it won't go anywhere unless the studio sees the financial potential - a good sized crowd would certainly be a strong bit of evidence, I think.
And I'm happy to report you don't have to worry about the movie selling out as 15 year old me once did. Yay Internet! Head on over to BrownPaperTickets and buy your ticket now, spare yourself the need to arrive at the box office over an hour before (I will also let teenagers in as long as they don't take out their cell phones to call their moms to be picked up). You can also buy them at the door if you want to live dangerously - as always, 8 bucks cash or card (or Moviepass, if you're into that). The New Beverly is located at 7165 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles 90036 (two blocks west of La Brea), and street parking is pretty easy to find. The Q&A will be BEFORE the movie, so try to get there and settled as close to the 11:59pm start time as you can so we have lots of time to ask Dan questions about this notoriously troubled production.
The theatrical version was the first time I ever saw a Halloween movie in theaters, and while the experience wasn't the best, it's obviously an important milestone in my 20+ years of obsession with the series. To go from being a schmuck waiting for his mom to say he could see the movie to hosting a screening of it (and appear in a Badass-er's documentary about the movies along the way!) is something I'm kind of in shock about, and the fact that we have this "Holy Grail" version to show you on a glorious 35mm print is just double icing on the cake. I really hope some of you fine folks can come enjoy it with me.
(NOTE - the original cut of the film lacks the Brother Cane song. Also Paul Rudd making this face. I present them here as consolation.)