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MFF Data: Analyzing the Jet Ski Chase in ‘Halloween VIIII – Battle on the Bayou: Michael’s Final Halloween’

April 1, 2019

Halloween VIIII – Battle on the Bayou: Michael’s Final Halloween is what happens when you sneeze into a cheap tissue. Roger Ebert (1996)

Many of you remember Halloween VIIII – Battle on the Bayou: Michael’s Final Halloween as the film that ended the run of the Halloween franchise. In 1996, the series was reeling after the poor performance of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, and it was given one last shot to stay relevant in the evolving horror market. Knowing that the series needed a change, the producers and executives at Dimension Films decided to send Michael Myers to Louisiana to hunt the brother he never knew he had. In a major casting coup, Jean-Claude Van Damme was cast as Police Detective Chance Strode, the long-lost older brother of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). JCVD’s career had hit a rough patch after Street Fighter, Sudden Death, Drop the Beat and Spin-Kick City failed to hit at the box office, so, desperate for a minor rebrand, he signed on to play the role for a lesser-fee with money promised on the back end.

You haven’t lived until you’ve seen JCVD spin kick Michael Myers.

The producers at Dimension couldn’t afford to pay an established director, so they brought in stuntman legend and first-time director Steve Balsawood (stunts for Lawrence of Arabia, Ghost, Fire 2: Too Hot To Handle, and Backslap: The Movie) to direct a script written by a young writer named Chuck Finley, who had written the well-received and commercially successful 1995 horror film Don’t Throw That Knife At Me!. If there was one concern, it was that the movie had to go from script-to-screen in a mere six months, which meant the filming would commence without a finished script and locations that were not fully scouted or vetted.

Desperate to bring in additional funding to beef up the $4 million budget.  The folks at Dimension signed a partnership with Yamaha to feature their X45 jet skis for a sizable amount that would help pay for the 23-day shoot. All was good until JCVD told the producers that he wouldn’t partake in any night shoots, which forced Finley and director Balsawood to revamp the script to make it a “day-time horror picture.” After several sleepless nights, and many unforgivable insults flung at each other, the two nailed down a script that played like a Halloween movie met Nowhere to Run and Hard Target, then completely forgot the Halloween angleThe highlight of the script was a jet ski chase that featured JCVD chasing down Michael Myers to make sure he can’t obtain the Spear of Destiny, which would make him even more immortal.

Early concept art for Halloween VIIII.

Shooting began soon thereafter and everything quickly became a nightmare due to unreliable jet ski prototypes, infighting, terrible weather, rewrites, adultery, rampant drug use, scurvy, bad shellfish, impromptu crying sessions and budget cuts which you can read about in Balsawood’s book I Hated Directing That Movie. The rest is history, but one scene has always stuck with me and I finally decided to tackle it in hopes of making sense of it.

Michael goes in circles a lot!

The following breaks down the incredibly random jet ski chase during the climax of the movie. I read in Balsawood’s book that they only had one day to shoot the scene and no locations to film the actual chase. So, the director, JCVD and a masked stuntman went out to a tiny island on the last day of principal photography and shot several hours of footage near the island. During their shooting, JCVD and the stuntman were only able to drive around the island 12 times due to the unreliable Yamaha X45 prototypes. Thus, the climax of the movie is centered around two men driving around in circles.

This is a picture from earlier in the film. JCVD and his friend talk about how great the jet skis are for seven minutes.

Here are my assumptions:

  • They averaged 45 MPH during the entire chase
  • They covered 180 miles during the chase
  • They circled the tiny Louisiana island an estimated 848 times during their chase

Enjoy the beautiful graphic that recreates the chase.

Here is what I know:

I know a lot because the movie tells us everything

  1. The movie has a 36% Tomatometer score, and it made $37 million at the international box office. Surprisingly, it has a 7.6 rating on IMDb.
  2. The X45 Yamaha prototypes have 20 gallon tanks and get 9 miles per gallon.  We learn this when JCVD says “Wow, the X45 Yamaha prototypes have 20 gallon tanks and get 9 miles per gallon.”
  3. The rectangular island has a diameter of 360×160 feet and the best way to circle it on the jet ski is to stay 20 feet away from the shore (380×180 feet = 1,120 foot diameter). We learn this when Crazy Cajun Karl (Clint Howard) says “look for an island that is roughly equal to the size of a American foosball* field….including the endzone. Make sure to circle twenty feet around the shore.”
  4. The chase scene lasted four hours. I know this because during the scene JCVD yells “It’s almost been four hours and these X45 Yamahas are still running. What efficiency!”
  5. The only person who can grab the “Spear of Destiny” is the man who fulfills a very specific prophecy. We learn this when Crawdaddy Kat (Kathy Bates) says “Only the man whose Yamaha jet ski runs of gas may grab the spear of destiny. He only can be stopped by a man who has run out of gas while riding the same exact Yamaha jet ski.”
  6. The gas tanks were totally full. We know this because when Michael Myers and JCVD steal them, the gas station attendant says “Hey! I just filled them X45 Yamahas with gas!”
  7. I know they circled the island because of the movies theme song, which peaked at number #78 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Charts in 1996. The song “Going in Circles” by Lit, featured these lyrics “We’re going in circles, circles never stop because their infinite, much like Michael Myers.”

There you have it! JCVD and Michael Myers circled a tiny Louisiana island 848 times during their four-hour chase scene in Halloween VIIII – Battle on the Bayou: Michael’s Final Halloween. 

If you like this dumb data, make sure to check out my other data pieces

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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