|release date||October 21 1988|
|director||Dwight H. Little|
|starring||Donald Pleasence, Ellie Cornell, Danielle Harris|
|tagline||Ten Years Ago HE Changed The Face Of Halloween. Tonight HE'S BACK!|
|trailer 1||Trailer #1|
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.
?Halloween 4, The Return of Michael Myers?, the name says it all. Ten years after the original ?Halloween?, ?Halloween 4? opens with a bit of a surprise. We all know that the fiery explosion at the end of ?Halloween 2? must not have killed Michael Myers – evil never dies when there can be sequels. The shocker is that Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) is also still alive.
At the start of the film we see Michael as an invalid ward of the state being prepared for transfer by ambulance to a new facility on a dark and stormy night. In the credits of the first two Halloween films the adult Michael Myers was listed as ?the shape.? That is fitting here since he is nothing but a heavily bandaged lump being rolled around on a hospital bed; that is until the attendants in the ambulance start talking about him and casually spill the beans that he has a niece in Haddonfield. Whoops! Michael immediately proceeds to stick his thumb into one of the attendants? foreheads! A very memorable first murder for a slasher film.
Now we go back to the Smith?s Grove facility where Michael was kept. Dr. Loomis is still as crazy as ever to keep ?the evil? in check, and he goes ballistic when he learns of Michael?s transfer. Just about the time that the administrator of the hospital thinks he?s put Dr. Loomis and his crazy ideas about Michael in his place, the phone rings to tell him that the ambulance with Michael Myers in it has wrecked! Cue music?.
Once more Dr. Loomis begins chasing Michael Myers while the proper authorities scoff at him for thinking a bed-ridden burn victim could do anyone any harm. (Don?t these guys ever learn?) So Loomis is on his own hunting Michael. It?s not a difficult hunt, since Michael leaves bodies wherever he goes. This starts with a small restaurant and gas station where Michael liberates a pair of coveralls from the mechanic who owns them with a gruesome crowbar through the chest.
In what is a surprisingly creepy scene, Dr. Loomis comes into the garage to buy gas. After finding the mechanic, he then finds, in the restaurant, a waitress also murdered. As he tries to use the payphone, he looks up and there is Michael staring at him from the kitchen. Although Loomis begs Michael to take him and spare the town of Haddonfield, Michael takes the tow truck and blows up the gas station along with Dr. Loomis?s car. Dr. Loomis escapes, but now he?s on foot.
The Dr. Loomis/Michael Myer?s relationship has always been one of my favorite parts of the ?Halloween? films. Dr. Loomis has been driven slightly mad by being the only one who sees the evil in Michael. Because he is the one who knows what Michael can do, he feels responsible for him. This is not lost in the fourth film, although it does feel ?toned down? in this film as opposed to parts 1 and 2.
The new lead characters for Halloween 4 are Jamie Strode (Michael?s niece) and Rachel Carruthers (Jamie?s step-sister). Jamie is plagued by nightmares, which have Michael Myers stalking her. When Rachel is forced to take care of Jamie on Halloween night, so begins the cycle of babysitting doom that started in the first film.
Dr. Loomis finally gets to town and enlists the aid of the local sheriff to look for Michael. While they?re out, Michael kills everyone in the police station. A lot of nicely done murders follow this discovery, including one rifle through the stomach and an electrician thrown into a transformer (shorting out the town?s power in the process). I did notice one thing about the people of Haddonfield: Michael Myers may be killing them, but their true nemesis is stairs. I don?t think there is a character in the film that could run up or down a flight of stairs without falling down (if Michael is around anyway) but this is just a side note.
The film takes an especially interesting twist at the end. I won?t give it away, but the ending may be what saves this film from being just another guy with a knife killing teens movie. It makes the viewer feel there is something more evil than Michael Myers at work in the story, and that it is linked to him by blood (no pun intended).