Monday, September 17, 2012
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
It has been ten years since Michael Myers killed about sixteen people in Haddonfield on Halloween. Michael has been in a coma at another psychiatric hospital for the past decade. Some paramedics load him in an ambulance ready to transfer him to another hospital, but Michael hears something about a niece and jumps up and brutally kills everybody in the ambulance. Meanwhile, young Jamie Lloyd is staying with her foster parents and new sister Rachel after her mother (Laurie Strode from Halloween & Halloween II) was killed in a car accident. After hearing about Michael's escape, Dr. Loomis goes on yet another quest to find him and kill him once and for all. Loomis teams up with Haddonfield's new Sheriff, Ben Meeker, to find Myers. Michael finds his way to Jamie and Rachel that leads to a shocking ending that most won't see coming.
In 1978, John Carpenter's low budget independent horror film Halloween was a surprising smash hit. It not only helped change the genre, but it showed audiences the shape of what fear really is. By the '80s, just about every major profitable horror film released was followed by a series of sequels to continue the story and try to out beat the previous box office grossing. In 1981, Halloween II was unleashed to pick up from the shocking ending of the original classic and continue with Michael Myers following Laurie Strode to the hospital and killing everybody who got in his way of killing his only living relative. Halloween II made decent business, which granted a third installment. So, in 1982, Halloween III: Season of the Witch was released that walked away from the story of the first two installments to be the beginning of a set of Halloween anthology films. Unfortunately for producers John Carpenter, Debra Hill, and Moustapha Akkad, Halloween III: Season of the Witch did poorly at the box office. Horror fans wanted Michael Myers back doing what he does best, killing teenagers on Halloween night. After the failure of Halloween III, John Carpenter and Debra Hill wanted no part in the rest of the Halloween franchise and left ownership and rights to Moustapha Akkad. After a five year wait, Akkad decided to give the horror fans what they wanted and returned Michael Myers and his arch nemesis Dr. Sam Loomis back to Haddonfield in the franchise's fourth entry titled Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers in 1988, the tenth anniversary of the original Halloween.
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is a really fun and entertaining sequel. The screenplay written by Alan B. McElroy was pretty good. I think the thing that works so well about this fourth entry of the franchise is definitely the characters of Rachel and Jamie Lloyd. These two are likeable and are believable as sisters even though we know they aren't biologically. This film also threw in some teenage drama in the mix with a love triangle between Rachel and her boyfriend Brady and another girl that seems to have a thing for Brady named Kelly. It doesn't push the Rachel/Brady relationship. It's obvious that Rachel and Brady really are into each other, yet the Sheriff's daughter Kelly comes between them. Dr. Loomis is a little more crazed in his obsession with killing Michael than he was in the first two films. The only person that seems to understand Loomis is some alcoholic priest trucker guy, who also is on a "quest" to defeat evil. The story is told that Laurie Strode from the first two films was killed in a car accident and her daughter Jamie was the only survivor. Michael finds out that Jamie is his niece and goes after her to complete his quest to kill the last of his family. The new Sheriff named Ben Meeker is cool too. I liked Sheriff Brackett more, but this guy ain't bad. I really felt bad for little Jamie. She's constantly teased at school because of her uncle and her mom dying and all she wants is for Rachel to be a real sister to her. She also keeps having nightmares of her evil uncle trying to kill her.
There's also some redneck dudes with shotguns who are run by this bar owner named Earl who wants revenge for Michael killing his son back ten years ago.
I also love the little homages to the first movie like naming the new victim Jamie after Jamie Lee Curtis who played Laurie Strode in the first two films and having Jamie Lloyd as Laurie's daughter. The whole thing with Jamie dressing up as a clown for Halloween is obviously a mirror of young Michael. There's even a sequence where she sees young Michael dressed as a clown and holding a bloody knife in the mirror at the costume store. And then the Sheriff's daughter gets killed by Michael just like what happened to the other Sheriff in the original.
The music by Alan Howarth was decent. Still, nothing can beat the awesomeness of Carpenter's original Halloween score.
I was definitely digging the kills in this one. It seems that Michael is now even more stronger after being in a coma for ten years. He can now stick his thumb into some dude's forehead, rip a guy's throat out with his bare hand, and shove a shotgun through a girl's body that pins her up on the door.
The ending to this film is just awesome! Total open ending that could and should have led to some interesting places in the following entries of this franchise. Too bad that Akkad and company chickened out and made that terrible Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers a year later that ruined the possibilities that this great ending could have led to.
My biggest complaint about this film mainly was the mask. It just looked really silly compared to the original mask. I also wish that Laurie wasn't killed off. Although, we find out in the seventh installment Halloween H20 that she didn't die, but faked her death and changed her identity.
The direction by Dwight H. Little is pretty good. The film moves at a good pace and looks great.
The acting was pretty good too. Donald Pleasence is good as always as Dr. Sam Loomis. Ellie Cornell was great as Rachel. Danielle Harris was also fantastic as Jamie Lloyd. I've always enjoyed Danielle as an actress. I loved her here, as Annie Brackett in the Halloween remake,as the sexy Goth chick Tosha in Urban Legend, and even dug her as Marybeth in Adam Green's Hatchet II. Beau Starr was good as Sheriff Meeker. Kathleen Kinmont was good and deliciously sexy as Kelly. And Sasha Jensen was good as Brady. All in all, great cast.
Overall, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is a very good sequel. Sadly, it is the last good film in the franchise until Halloween H20 in 1998. Definitely worth checking out every October.