Scream Factory kicked off the week by fully detailing their upcoming 4K Ultra HD releases of the first five films in the Halloween franchise, which are all set for release on October 5.
Of particular note, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers will include footage from the film that was previously lost, with the following two bits teased by Scream Factory:
- NEW long-lost alternate opening sequence featuring the appearance of Dr. Death
- NEW extra snippets of gore cut to obtain an R-Rating
It was back in 2019, you may recall, that the search for this missing footage began, but you may be wondering what precisely Scream Factory is referring to here? What is this alternate “Dr. Death” opening, and what can we expect from these “extra snippets of gore”?
What’re we up to? In search of that ‘lost’ footage from #Halloween 5… #MichaelMyers 🎃🔪 pic.twitter.com/Mz6ltkhuiO
— HalloweenMovies™ (@Halloweenmovies) February 11, 2019
For starters, let’s talk about that alternate opening. The 1989 sequel was originally going to open with Michael Myers washing up at the home of a man named Dr. Death, a character who was eventually turned into a hermit who nurses Michael back to health after the events of the previous film. Michael of course ultimately kills the hermit, returning to Haddonfield.
HalloweenMovies.com breaks down the alternate opening sequence that Scream Factory has uncovered, explaining that Dr. Death was an occultist character whose purpose in the film was to “deepen” the “Cult of Thorn” mythology. Late actor Theron Read played Dr. Death in this excised scene, and you’ll find an image from the scene over on HalloweenMovies.com.
The best explanation we have of this scene comes from Halloween 5 actor Don Shanks, who recalled the alternate Dr. Death opening in a chat with the same website back in 2019.
“(I was) placed on this stone alter, and all around (the set) were things that the production had gotten from witches, and people that sell you the occult,” Shanks recalled. “And there were scrolls and different chants and this and that. And (suspended from) the altar, right above me, was this rock that looked like a stalactite – it was on a string and it would circle. And Dr. Death was doing an incantation on me, and then he tattoos on me the Thorn rune, which is the sign of eternal life. And so he does all these incantations, and on Halloween Eve (one year later) I come back to life.”
He continued, “So I put the mask on and I grab Dr. Death by the throat and pick him up over my head and break his back, and then put him on the altar, and take the stalactite and I go through his chest with it. I thought it was one of my better kills. But Moustapha [Akkad] thought it was too much of the occult type thing. So they decided to shoot it differently.”
The task of taking this rough old footage and bringing it back to life was given to Michael Felsher, who explains the process in a post over on his Facebook page this week.
Felsher writes, “Basically I was delivered a series of raw takes scanned direct from the negative trims and using a shooting script, as well as some existing footage from the theatrical cut, I was able to put together what amounts to a new opening sequence for the film. Most H5 fans know that the existing Mountain Man character was a re-shoot added in to replace Dr. Death, and it was interesting to discover that a lot of shots used in the theatrical cut for his “lair” were just shots taken from the original Dr. Death shoot which I was able to repurpose for the restored scene. Another big challenge was that there was no audio for any of this. The production sound was either MIA or perhaps this scene was shot MOS at the time.”
“So a big part of my job was to create an audio mix for this scene, so when you watch it, every sound you hear with Dr. Death on-screen was created here at my desk,” Felsher adds. “We also found a workaround for the few lines of dialogue that the character had, but I’ll leave the answer to that for you to discover when the disc comes out.”
As for the “extra snippets of gore,” it’s hard to know precisely what was found by Scream Factory, but we probably shouldn’t be expecting the lost “SWAT Team Massacre” sequence with this release. As Don Shanks explained in 2019, a scene was filmed where Michael wipes out Haddonfield’s SWAT team, but alas, that is not listed on Scream Factory’s extras.
“There’s one guy, and I mean they show it, when they’re taking out one of the bodies, whose head is twisted around,” Shanks remembers. “They put the wardrobe on him backwards, and he looks like his head’s been twisted one hundred and eighty degrees. And another, the direction was, ‘Take an M16 rifle, and you’re just walking through these guys and killing them.’ There’s Donre Samson, a big tall black guy that I kill, and another one, I put the M16 through his head, and another guy, I break his neck and stomp on him. The whole idea was that you’d hear everybody screaming (over the radio) when he’s killing everybody. So we did all these really quick shots. You know: ‘Pick this guy up. Knock this guy down. Stab this guy.’”
We expect to learn more about these “extra snippets of gore” in the coming weeks, likely to be brief moments of additional bloodshed that were ultimately trimmed from the film to appease the MPAA. Scream Factory has also recently unearthed and released lost gore footage from My Bloody Valentine and Friday the 13th Part 2, both of which proved to be big treats for fans.
Stay tuned for more as we learn it.