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The F*cking Black Sheep: Halloween 5

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We’re hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

HALLOWEEN 5

DIRECTED BY DOMINIQUE OTHENIN-GIRARD

F*ck yeah friends and fellow Arrow in the Headers, with T-minus one week until HALLOWEEN returns to the big screen! As such, our eyes are focusing squarely on all things Michael Motherf*cking Myers. Last week we gave y’all a look back at how HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS has held up beautifully over the past 30 years, and now, we turn our attention to what can only be construed as a story continuation of, and yet for whatever reason, never received quite the same love. Of course we’re talking about HALLOWEEN 5, referred to in some parts (though not on the official film release) as HALLOWEEN 5: THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS.

Now, I personally think HALLOWEEN 5 is the fourth best film in the entire franchise, ranking only behind chapters 1, 4 and 2 (and frankly, I waffle between the placement of 5 and 2, often flipping them in order depending on my mood). But that’s not how the general public sees it. In fact, HALLOWEEN 5 is the lowest grossing film in the franchise, and not coincidentally, the least distributed sequel in the slasher franchise. But why? Is it because the flick was released only one year after THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS? Remember, there was a four year lacuna between parts 1 and 2, five years between parts 3 and 4. Perhaps the masses we’re exhausted by a fit of Myers overkill. Blasphemy to think, I know, but what else could it be? As I think you’ll agree with below, if you don’t happen to already, here’s why HALLOWEEN 5 is a F*cking Black Sheep!

Let’s pick up the story beats first. Directed by Dominique Othenin-Girard (AFTER DARK) THE REVENGE resumes exactly one year after the last chapter left us, yet changing the sequence events ala HALLOWEEN II, Michael Myers (this time played by Don Shanks, wisely using a different mask after the one from Part 4 couldn’t fit his head) survives a spate of gunshot wounds, ultimately falling into a river and flowing downstream a ways. When he comes to, he finds he’s been taken in by a backwoods weirdo who, in the original script, attempted to revive Michael through a series of occult rune and tablets and whatnot. He was to even unmask Myers right there and leer at him askance (footage can be seen in the doc INSIDE HALLOWEEN 5). After regaining his senses, Myers does away with the old coot and trudges his ass back to Haddonfield, where he plans to continue is indefatigable death-streak en route to killing his young niece, Jamie.

Meanwhile, after a year in the mental hospital, Jamie is beginning to shed her violent tendencies and return to normalcy. She is, however, still wracked with murderous premonitions involving Myers' maniacal mores. What’s interesting here is how producer Mustapha Akkad denied the original script that would have pitted Michael and Jamie against each other as dueling slasher antagonists. That is, Jamie would still be in the throes of a psychotic trance, and when she begins killing people Michael had in own sights, he begins to stalk-and-slash Jamie for a different reason. I have to admit, the idea of a slasher stalking another slasher is pretty ingenious. While Akkad does not regret denying this angle, he was on record lamenting the early death of Rachel (Ellie Conrell), Jamie’s cousin and costar from the previous film, at least early on. Actually, Rachel was supposed have a major character change, and play the part ultimately given to Tina (Wendy Foxworth). Anyway, as Jamie slowly starts to become herself again, Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) boldly uses her as a sacrificial pawn to lure Myers into a duplicitous death trap inside an old Victorian mansion.

Aside from a story continuation that makes parts 4-5 inextricably linked, and damn near mandatory viewing as a double-bill, here’s why HALLOWEEN 5 is so goddamn good. First, there is an element of teenage high-jinks and unadulterated party-time fun that hark back to the OG HALLOWEEN. Think about it. Part II took place in the hospital, featuring most of its staff as victims. Three had nothing to do with Myers at all, and Part 4 had everything to do with the endangerment of a small child. Well, in HALLOWEEN 5, we still get the inimical dynamic of the endangered child, but we also get to indulge in some good old goofy adolescent amusement along the way. I’m talking about that kickass Tower Farm party that Myers’ storms into with evil agog, waylaying a passel of preening punks every step of the way. Between Tina and Sammie (Tamara Glynn), Mikey (Jonathan Chapin) and Spitz (Matthew Walker), the sheer festive atmosphere and teenage titillation goes a long way.

What stands out most about HALLOWEEN 5 though, and what directly makes it one of the best franchise sequels of all, is the unparalleled number of deaths, and the wide variety fiendish fatalities that correspond. Straight up, including the dead dog and possum, Myers tallies 17 fetid corpses in HALLOWEEN 5. 17! So brutal were some of these kills on initial submission to the MPAA that the film flirted with getting an X-rating before chopping down all the graphic violence to an acceptable level. I don’t what care what anyone says, 17 kills on a near X-rating is f*cking gnarly!

And before we dish and dice up some of the mortifying mortalities, I think first worth noting another dynamic that helps these kills play as affectively as they do. I wouldn’t call them jump-scares as we know them today, but HALLOWEEN 5 does an admirable job of keeping the audience guessing with pseudo-scares. By having Spitz, for example, dress in Myers’ trademark garb and scare some of the girls as if we were about to witness another genuine Myers murder, Othenin-Girard keeps the actual death-scenes rather unpredictable. I can grasp the argument that these are just cheap ways of misdirecting the audience, but I’d argue that there’s nothing more appallingly anticlimactic than watching a teen wander into a dark corner, knowing full well what fate awaits him/her. Here, at least an effort is made to sidetrack the viewer and keep the actual death scenes as abrupt and unforeseen as possible.

Now let’s get into these mother*cking murders, yeah? In the first fatality of note, Othenin-Girard opts to do what most filmmakers do not have the balls to do…which is unceremoniously off a main character. After riding with Rachel so hard in Part 4, to shockingly dispatch her only 20 minutes into the film (even as Cornell gets third billing) is akin to what Hitchcock did in PSYCHO 30 years earlier. Again, the script had Rachel and Tina swapping spots, but the final decision, and spinal incision, as Myers violently impales Rachel with a pair of large scissors, is a damn brazen move, and likely a reason why fans didn’t respond so well to the movie overall. Moving on, when greaser Mikey isn’t diapering down his hotrod, he’s busy catching a three-pronged gardening claw plum in the forehead. All onscreen!

Keeping with the murderous garden-tool motif, Myers then steals Mikey’s muscle car and high-tails it to the Farm Tower Halloween night bash. Here he’ll find a randy pair teens, Sammie and Spitz, enjoying a lusty roll in the hay. In either homage to Bava’s BAY OF BLOOD, or Steve Miner’s FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 (likely the former), Myers’ picks up a five-spiked pitchfork and brusquely impales Spitz in the back, mid-coitus, with his gory entrails to leak all over Sammie’s supine nubile body. Think it’s over? Hell nah. As soon as Sammie scrapes herself off the hay-bail, Myers appears from a dark corner with a giant EATEN ALIVE scythe in hand, and with one systematic swipe, Sammie’s supple frame is reduced to a pile of gore-sodden flesh, bone and viscera.

In yet another bold move to off a main character, Tina’s death scene is one of the most brutal because of not only the strong relationship she’s forged with Jamie, but the ferocious familiarity of seeing Michael plunge his trusty butcher knife into her chest two or three times, right on screen and in full view, is just harsh. And while it’s a bit scarring to see Michael’s weapon of choice, the fact that HALLOWEEN 5 has such a wide variety of death-causes is what makes the movie so superior to many of the franchise entries. Other examples include Myers bashing a cop’s face repeatedly over shards of broken glass, and a stint where he strangles Deputy Charlie (Troy Evans) by hanging him out of the third story window. The high number of deaths, and the concomitant variety of death modes, is what primarily makes HALLOWEEN 5 perhaps the most underrated entry of all.

Of course, we’d be remiss not to mention how none of the above would work without the compelling performance by Danielle Harris as Jamie. If she was good in Part 4, she’s great in Part 5, constantly called upon to be in an emotional state of hysterics, or in a physical state of agony. She is the rooting through-line of Parts 4 and 5, and the success of both could never be achieved with a lesser performance. The finale in particular is quite inspired, both in terms of what Harris is asked to do, but also just in terms of the interior design – the dusty, candle-lit, cobweb-dripping mansion – is the perfect representation of Halloween-time ambience, which always goes a long way toward the enjoyment of the film.

Honestly guys and ghouls, if you hadn’t though much of HALLOWEEN 5 before, now’s the perfect opportunity to revisit what is a mid-top-tier HALLOWEEN franchise chapter. It not only continues the saga of Jamie following the splendid RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS, it does so organically, yet at the same time, takes things in new directions via the teenage party angle and wildly inventive mass death toll. While HALLOWEEN 5 will always be a F*cking Black Sheep in our eyes, we want to leave y’all with a brain-teaser.

Have any of yo heard or entertained the long running theory that Michael Myers and Sam Loomis are the same person? Many clues in the original hint at this possibility, and even more appear in HALLOWEEN 5. Or, at the very least, a connection between the two is made, as is a connection between Loomis and the Man in Black. Per IMDB, “When Jamie starts sensing Michael near Billy, Dr. Loomis is walking in the hallway. The sign tattooed on Michael's wrist and the man in black can be seen on the wall behind Dr. Loomis.” That’s some eerie shite, and would seem to lend credence to the theory (there’s also a shot of Loomis’ boots cut to immediately following the man in black’s steel-toed boots…Loomis pulls steel out of his pocket in the form of a .45). Just sayin’. Happy Halloween y’all!

GET HALLOWEEN 5 ON DVD HERE

 

GET HALLOWEEN 5 ON BLU-RAY HERE

Source: AITH

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