New to Blu: Halloween 4 and Halloween 5 Reviews (Kirk Haviland)

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

Starring Donald Pleasence, Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, George P. Wilbur, Kathleen Kinmont, Sasha Jenson and Beau Starr

Written by Danny Lipsius, Larry Rattner, Benjamin Ruffner and Alan B. McElroy

Directed by Dwight H. Little

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

Starring Donald Pleasence, Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Wendy Kaplan, Jeffrey Landman, Donald L. Shanks and Beau Starr

Written by Michael Jacobs, Dominique Othenin-Girard and Shem Bitterman

Directed by Dominique Othenin-Girard 

New this week from Anchor Bay Entertainment are the Blu-Ray reissues of Halloween 4 and 5, the re-introduction of serial killer Michael Myers after the Myers-less Halloween 3. Varying in quality the films are eternally linked as they feature almost identical lead characters, are set only one year apart in movie time (and the same in production time) and Halloween 5 actually picks up from the very end of part 4. So are they each worth your hard earned dollars or is one simply leagues ahead of the other?

BEWARE SPOILERS AHEAD.

Halloween 4 takes place 10 years after the incidents of the first two films and introduces us to the Carruthers family and their two daughters: Rachel (Cornell), their biological daughter and  Jamie Lloyd (Harris), their adopted daughter. As it turns out, Jamie is the niece of Michael Myers, daughter of the damsel in distress, Laurie Strode from the first two films played by Jamie Lee Curtis. Strode’s absence is never explained, while the young Jamie has very little knowledge of her uncle other than the legends and a photo. Upon learning about the existence of a niece during a hospital transfer, Michael (Wilbur) predictably wakes and leaves a bloody swath in his path back to Haddonfield. Michael’s nemesis, the well weathered Dr. Loomis (the late Donald Pleasence), is hot on his trail as he closes ground on the formerly sleepy little town that has never managed to fully forget the events of 10 years prior.

Arriving in Haddonfield, Loomis goes directly to the police station and manages to convince the new town Sheriff, Ben Meeker (Starr), that he needs to get on the streets and search for Jamie and conversely Michael. Meanwhile, Jamie is out trick or treating with Rachel and the two end up separated when they knock on the door of a scantily clad Kelly (Kinmont) with Rachel’s boyfriend Brady (Jenson) with whom she had broken off a date in order to take care of Jamie. After almost running directly into Michael the two are reunited and Sheriff Meeker and Loomis find them right in the nick of time. All mayhem breaks loose as Michael destroys the entire Police Station and its occupants causing the formation of a lynch mob, the massacre at the Meeker house (and of course Kelly’s last name is Meeker) by Michael and the calling in of the National Guard. Eventually Michael is defeated in the remains of a mine shaft. We are left with a cryptic ending with an attack from an unlikely source.

Halloween 5 starts with the bottom of that mine shaft as Michael (this time played by Shanks) crawls to safety and ends up passed out in the shanty shack of a man by the river. One year after the events of the closing part of Halloween 4 Jamie is now institutionalized, no longer able to speak, and under the care of Loomis. Rachel and Tina (Kaplan), Rachel’s friend who is clearly designed after Lindsey (a miniscule part in 4), visit the silent Jamie and she has developed a friendship with a fellow patient with a crush on her Billy (Landman). We are shown a man in a black coat and black cowboy boots, complete with spurs clanging, who is never shown by face and just appears at random spots throughout the film. Michael awakes, from what I guess is supposed to be a yearlong coma, in his same clothes and mask and immediately dispatches the man who apparently has been keeping him alive for a year now. Jamie this time around sees exactly what Michael is doing as they are now apparently physically linked and somehow Loomis already knows it. After dispatching Rachel, the only member of the Carruthers family in the film, Tina, a random character with no family relations to Jamie, immediately starts acting like she’s her child and she tries to protect her. The silliness continues with extremely poor comic relief from junior deputies, a party on an isolated farm which provides Michael the perfect hunting ground and a final showdown in the now dilapidated Myers House.

We know what Producer Moustapha Akkad was shooting for here. After the success of Halloween and its immediate follow-up set on the same night, Halloween 2, then the disappointment of part 3, Akkad wanted to re-launch the Myers character with a splash. Halloween 4 is a solid entry into the series and introduces us to someone who was a fabulous child actor in Harris. Her Jamie in part 4 is believable and grounded when it could have been so far over the top and awful.  The story of part 4 is developed well and harkens back to the Carpenter scripts of the first two as it takes its time to develop and unfurl throughout the film. Michael actually shows evidence of a plan of attack as he takes out the power for the whole town and attacks the police station. He’s meticulous and strategic in his pursuit of young Jamie and the film benefits from it. The Director, Little, uses Carpenter’s directing style here very well with lingering shots and things happening in the extreme background that may or may not be a part of the plot. The camera work is also great and staged very well in this one. Halloween 4 is a solid entry in the series and a very flattering return vehicle for Myers, sadly the same cannot be said about Halloween 5.

Obviously hurriedly put together to capitalize on the success of the better than expected part 4, the script for 5 is lazy and really makes no sense whatsoever. The Rachel character is a mess, after Jamie’s attack on her own mother she still visits Jamie constantly and then is inexplicably killed off immediately. Tina all of the sudden acts like Jamie is her own damn child, though she barely knows her. Myers is apparently after Jamie but after Tina delivers him straight to where she is institutionalized he opts to follow Tina to some secluded party and kill drunken teenagers instead. Then there’s the never explained man in black. I could go on and on over the poor script choices but the real result is that they destroy any chances of the actors we liked so much in part 4 performing adequately. They replace the watchable Cornell with the sometimes downright grating Kaplan and don’t allow Harris to talk for the first half of the movie, only to use her to simply cry and scream for the entire second half. The directing is poor and the supporting characters laughably bad. Halloween 5 is one of the worst in the series.

The Blu-Rays do not contain much in the way of special features. Part 4 has a panel from the anniversary convention with Jenson, Harris and Kinmont talking about the film, a trailer and two commentaries: one from the two female leads of the film and the other with director Little. The convention footage is fun if too brief. The disc for Part 5 features an original set visit featurette from 1989, an original Halloween 5 promo, a trailer and two audio commentaries: one with Shanks, Harris and Landman and the other with director Othenin-Girard. The set visit is nothing but an extended interview with Kaplan that is very hard to get through, interspersed with behind the scenes footage and the original promo is very brief.  However, despite the extras being rather sparse I will say that the Blu-Ray transfers on both discs look fantastic!

So in the grand scheme of things we have a tale of two extremes with two films that are intrinsically linked. Halloween 4 is a very solid recommend as it actually stands as one of the better films of the series, while on the opposite end of the spectrum Halloween 5 is one of the worst and may be worth a pass. That said, as a pair they do work well enough to recommend, though it gets progressively silly the longer the double bill goes.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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