HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL...
Reviewed by: JimmyO
Dwight H. Little
What's it about
Ten years after Michael Myers terrorized Haddonfield, his memory lingers. And now, he returns to take his bloody vengeance on Laurie Strode’s daughter, Jamie. Why did her adoptive family stick around?
Is it good movie?
I remember being so painfully excited to see a new Halloween in 1988. Ten years after the first, I couldn’t wait to see Michael Myers come home. But when I saw it back in the day, something felt off. I really didn’t know what it was back then but I sure as hell do now. John Carpenter’s slasher classic utilized the sense of dread. He knew how to set up a shot and create a mood soaked in tension. You sat waiting for Michael to strike, but here, that tension suffers at the hands of director Dwight H. Little. Aside from a couple of very well thought out sequences, there wasn’t much fear to be had. Yes, Michael was still scary and I was rooting for little Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) but this didn’t feel like the Halloween that I grew up loving. Watching it now, there is so much that they pay homage to in the original, that in some ways this feels like a remake.
Aside from the look of the film not feeling up to the old Halloween standards, I also had some issues with the script. There was a great set-up and I loved much of the dialogue but a few moments just sounded awkward and silly. This really grated me in one scene where Rachel Caruthers, the daughter of the family who adopted Jamie is having a conversation about boys with Lindsey (yep, she is still living in Haddonfield). This was one of those “let’s pay tribute” moments which rang false and Ms. Cornell has a rough time pulling off lines about how “guys hate a girl who comes on too strong”. A few other moments didn’t work but I do think that writer Alan McElroy had some interesting ideas. And also creating a major problem... too many damn characters I didn’t give a shite about. There’s even a whole cavalry or beer drinking dudes in trucks shooting off guns. Not scary, just annoying.
But truth be told, this is still better than many of the so-called slashers that came out before and after. Credit Danielle Harris as one of the main hooks to pull you in. Most of the time, the little kid characters in horror are just plain annoying, but she was able to carry the film very well. One of the best moments in the film comes early on when the “nightmare man” comes to haunt her in her room. The scene played on every child’s fear of the boogeyman and the things that go bump in the night. Danielle really came across as a scared little girl, good work. I also thought Ellie Cornell did a nice job with what she had. She has a very sincere, “big sister” quality and played off Danielle Harris wonderfully. And for all you Dazed and Confused and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans, we get Sasha Jenson as the boyfriend who’s kind of a jerk role. He didn't have a lot to do, but hey... the guy’s cool. And speaking of cool, the most important factor as to why this was a cut above the rest is of course Donald Pleasence, he gives a first rate performance as Dr. Sam Loomis, the man who will stop at nothing to rid the world of “pure evil”. The world of Halloween will never be the same without him.
Video / Audio
Video: This is a solid anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer and it looks fantastic. Good job Anchor Bay.
Audio: The altered John Carpenter score sounds great in Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Surround 2.0.
Anchor Bay shows more love to the Halloween series. We get a pretty good disc with some nice extras including two Commentaries. The first is with Danielle Harris and Ellie Cornell. Both come across as very likable and proud of their work in Halloween 4 but for all you fans, you may find yourself yelling at the screen for them to get their facts straight. Worth a listen just to try and correct them on their info.
The next commentary is with writer Alan McElroy and the man, the myth, the legend Anthony Masi from Halloweenmovies.Com steering the ship. I thoroughly enjoyed this commentary and it brought up some interesting trivia. Most notably is the fact that this script was written in eleven days. And Mr. McElroy also sends a note to all the critics that you can’t always blame the writer, because oftentimes the script is changed. I’ll keep that in mind.
Next up, we get Halloween 4/5 Panel Discussion (18:26). This same material can be found on the must own Halloween: 25 Years of Terror. This is still of interest if you don’t want to change the disc.
Then comes Halloween 4: Final Cut (16:46). This is a very entertaining look at the film from the beginning, to the box office success of Michael’s return, good stuff.
Finally we have Anchor Bay’s Trailers including Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1:36), no wonder I was so excited to see this. Then we have Halloween (2:33), Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (:35) and finally, Masters of Horror (1:55).
Halloween 4 treads on very familiar ground yet does so in a satisfactory way. Michael Myers returns, yet much of the terror and atmosphere of the first (and to a lesser extent, Halloween 2) feels forced and not all that scary. But any true Halloween fan will want to own this for some great performances from Danielle Harris and Donald Pleasence. A film that stays true to the original, almost to a fault, will still give you the occasional willies. Not a great film, but definitely not the worst in the series… yeah Part 3, I’m talking to you. Trick or treat!