Reviewed by Mike Ferraro
I used to really like Halloween 4 when I was a kid but I haven’t really revisited it too often in my adult years. Even during the Zombie Halloween years, I could only muster up the strength to revisit John Carpenter’s masterful original. So when given the opportunity to check out the film on Blu-ray, I was pretty excited. Did my excitement stand?
The Return of Michael Myers does exactly what it sets out to do: bring our masked villain back to Illinois for one more night of terror, to a franchise that moved on without him for a sequel (Halloween III: Season of the Witch). It would seem then that owners of the franchise weren’t really happy with that direction (despite the fact that the third entry is quite entertaining enough in its own right, albeit cheesy).
You probably know the story by now – Halloween, 1978, Michael Myers escapes from Smith’s Grove Sanitarium and wrecks havoc in the fictitious suburban community of Haddonfield, IL. Close on his heels is Dr. Loomis (played by the immortal Donald Pleasance), Michael’s psychiatrist, who then attempts to kill him any way he can. Audiences thought he was successful too, since at the end of the Halloween II, both Loomis and Myers explode into fiery doom inside a hospital.
Miraculously, and I do mean miraculously, both men survive.
“These movies aren’t meant to be real life, dude.”
Trust me, I know. Loving films that are nothing shy of ridiculous is something I strive for – especially of the slasher persuasion. But as with all of these franchises, it gets to be too much (or too little, depending on your tastes) for its own good.
Anyway, 10 years later, at the beginning of this film, Myers wakes up out of a coma and escapes again. Of course Dr. Loomis is close behind, yet again. This time, instead of stalking his sister and all of her friends, Myers discovers that he has a niece living in Haddonfield.
It would appear that Michael Myers is a little smarter and stronger this go-round. First, he destroys the town’s power supply, and then he murders most of the police force by attacking the station outright (off screen, of course).
His niece, Jamie (Danielle Harris, who also co-starred in the remake franchise), suffers from some odd nightmares throughout the film, which somehow connect her to her crazy uncle. Watching this film by itself, this really feels unexplored despite the fact that the filmmaker gives it so much attention. She envisions what he looks like now, even though she never met him, right down to his infamous mask. We know now that Halloween 5 answers some of these questions, but if you’re watching this for the first time, it doesn’t make much sense.
Despite the ridiculous plot, can some entertainment value be found here? It would seem that time has not been kind to Halloween 4, both by way of plot and visually. Sure, it is worth watching if you’re just bananas about Michael Myers, but it is definitely the start of the slow death of the franchise each of the subsequent follow-ups hammered in further.
This new blu-ray, released by Anchor Bay, looks a bit clearer than the previous DVD versions, but the colors do not pop as well as they should. Both the darks and colors feel tinted with a shade of grey, making the photography look as bland as possible. Some of the special features are copied over from the DiviMax DVD released a few years ago (including a Halloween discussion panel, commentary with actors Danielle Harris and Ellie Cornell, and a theatrical trailer). The panel was recorded around the time Halloween: Resurrection was released but some of the information to how the actors feel about their characters being ignored in follow-ups might be a revelation to some. There is a new commentary with director Dwight H. Little and author Justin Beahm. Beahm definitely adds some flair to the commentary, as he asks Little a lot of questions regarding to the production of the film that he might not have thought of solo. Purists may want to upgrade, but wait until you can find it in a bargain bin at a local retailer.