Post the box office success of the previous installment– after the relative financial failure of the Myers-less HALLOWEEN III (1983) – it came as no surprise that Mustapha Akkad saw $$$ and steam rolled another sequel into production. Unfortunately, whilst HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS (1988) was no masterpiece it looks like a veritable classic compared to this.
One of the biggest gripes people have with this film is that they side-stepped the unexpectedly effective ending of Part 4: where Jamie (ten year old Danielle Harris), who played Laurie Strode's daughter and the unlucky niece of psycho uncle Michael Myers, looked set to take over the murderous rampage when she sliced and diced her stepmother. Perhaps this wouldn't have worked, but in this sequel Jamie is left mute (but sane) by the shock of the events in the previous film. However, she seems to have developed a psycho/psychic link with her uncle.
The opening of HALLOWEEN 5 seems intent on parody. Harking back to the days of pitchfork waving yokels in the old Universal monster flicks, Michael is sent into the pit by a handy police firing squad (in a recap from the previous film). They throw in a stick of dynamite for good measure (standard police issue I'm sure), but Michael Myers is made of stronger stuff and drags himself along a tunnel to a river. After a relaxing dunk he ends up at the shanty house of some kindly tramp and his talking parrot (no, I'm not making this up). The tramp keeps this now unconscious mystery stranger in bed for a year (as you do), and his only thanks is a broken neck when Michael wakes bright as a daisy on the eve of the next Halloween. Thankfully, the parrot is spared. However, his extended nap has done nothing for his mood and he heads back to his old stomping ground of Haddonfield ...
Meanwhile, dear old Dr Loomis (once again played with obvious demented relish by Donald Pleasance) is convinced that Myers is still alive and Jamie has the key to finding him. Also back for the ride is nice girl Rachel (Ellie Cornell), who is planning to skip town to go to the country with her parents over Halloween. Her best friend Tina (Wendy Kaplan) tries to convince her to stay and go to the big party being held on a farm out of town. Add to the mix a few more disposable teens who you know will end their days on the tip of some sharp implement, and a mysterious stranger in black (who we know is no darn good because he kicks a dog as he gets off the coach), and the stage is set for more of the same, with varying, but overall disappointing results.
What really struck me with HALLOWEEN 5 was the sheer laziness of the production. At least with the previous installment they tried to make it look like it was actually shot in October, and famously in Carpenter's original they painted leaves brown to give it that Autumnal feel. Here they couldn't even be bothered to do that, or hide the fact that all the trees were in full bloom with greenery. The other thing sure to strike the fear into any self respecting slasher fan is the introduction of comedy cops. Could you imagine Carpenter adding farting brass when doofus cops make an appearance? Horrible. And, whilst I'm on a roll, what was it with Myers' mask? It looked less like they modeled it on William Shatner and more on Emo Philips! And – and! - what was it with the Myers house? Why has the humble suburban two up, two down morphed into a gothic mansion?
So, what's good about HALLOWEEN 5? Well, Danielle Harris gives another very strong performance as the long suffering niece. Ellie Cornell is also engaging as Rachel, so it's a shame that she has so little screen time. Apparently French director Dominique Othenin-Girard wanted to give the film a European feel. I'm all for trying something new, but Othenin-Girard fluffs the classic slasher setups much of the time, and doesn't really add anything fresh. The scenes at the party, where Tina's friends are hunted in a barn should be classic stuff, but are flat and peculiarly lifeless. However, he does manage to crank up the suspense during a chase scene where Michael gets in the driving seat and goes after the kids. There is also the film's infamous scene where Jamie is stuck in a laundry chute, and Myers stabs through the metal to get to her. It verges on cinematic child abuse, but is certainly head and shoulders above anything else in the film. Othenin-Girard also introduces a nicely gothic tone towards the end, but I think we could have done without the shot of Myers boo-hoo'ing.
If HALLOWEEN 5 was the beginning of the series hitting the skids, then the next installment (at least in the non director's cut version) is the full on multiple pileup. However, eagle-eyed viewers will spot the Thorn references in this, showing that the makers of the next one didn't pluck that from nowhere (in fact, the whole druid back story first made an appearance in the novelisation of the first film).
Ultimately, if you're a fan of the series then there'll be things here that you will find worthwhile, but compared to Carpenter's original - or even the previous sequels - this really is no great shakes.
female:3 / male:13
1) Male has neck broken
2) Female stabbed to death with scissors
3) Male gets metal claw to the head
4) Male stabbed with pitchfork
5) Female slashed with scythe
6) Male found with throat slashed
7) Male found with throat slashed
8) Female stabbed with butcher's knife
9) Male beaten to death
10) Male hung
11) Male shot
12) Male shot
13) Male shot
14) Male shot
15) Male shot
16) Male shot