Archive for October 24, 2011

Fast-forward one year to 1989 and we find ourselves staring headlong at Halloween 5 : The Revenge Of Michael Myers, a flick as uninspiring as its title is uninspired.

I’ll give director Dominique Othenin-Girard and his screenwriters credit for trying to expand the whole Myers mythos into new directions here, but the whole thing’s just so flipping absurd that no amount of suspension of disbelief can carry you through it with a straight face.

First off, we’ve got the prospect of Michael (this time portrayed by one Donald L. Shanks, as if it matters all that much) surviving a hail of gunfire followed by a plunge down a mineshaft. Okay, only a little rougher than some of his previous “deaths,” I suppose, but add to that the fact that when he comes back one year later on Halloween night (of course) to take another crack at killing his niece Jamie (again played by Danielle Harris, who’s really asked to carry a lot of this film since her friends start buying the far rather quickly, and truth be told she does a very admirable job) we find that she has developed full-blown psychic powers that clue her into where and when her murderous uncle is going to strike next! Not that it saves her friends or his other victims, of course, ‘cuz where would the fun be in that?

Anyway, the whole setup’s absurd, Donald Pleasence’s Dr. Loomis feels like he’s being shoehorned into the script just because, hell, he’s gotta be there ,right?, and Othenin-Girard proves himself to be a director who doesn’t exactly excel at the basics of mood and tension, both of which are absolute musts in any slasher film.

While the “Divimax” DVD release from Anchor Bay of Halloween 5 is every bit as nicely-put-together as the one they did for the previous installment (see our last review for semi-full DVD specifications), it’s really a matter of trying to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. The movie itself just doesn’t warrant all that special a treatment, sad as it makes this Halloween series junkie to utter those very-nearly-blasphemous words.

Look, I won’t kid you folks out there in blog-reader-land — when Halloween 5 : The Revenge Of Michael Myers plays on AMC this week, I’m sure I’ll watch it at least once (well, okay, probably only once) but that just proves what a sucker for any Michael Myers flick I am. Assuming that you don’t share this affliction and are, instead, a viewer of taste and discernment who values their free time and spends it wisely, there’s really nothing I can honestly come up with to recommend this film to you. the tried-and-true phrase “for completists only” is absolutely as spot-on a description of this flick as one can find, so if you are one, then hell, tune in, of course (I will be, so you don’t have to feel like too much of a hopeless sucker), but if you’re not, then yeah, it certainly won’t be too hard at all for you to find something better to do with your time.

It wouldn’t be a proper Halloween horror movie round-up around these parts if he didn’t review at least one film from the venerable slasher series named after this, our favorite holiday, so today here at TFG we’re going to take a (relatively quick, since you pretty much know the drill with these flicks) look at not one, but two Michael Myers flicks that are both available on DVD from Anchor Bay in special “Divimax” editions that are really good and loaded with extras like multiple commentary tracks with cast and crew, very well-done making-of featurettes, trailers, outtakes, and fantastic widescreen digital transfers that look like a million bucks and are accompanied by terrific 5.1 sound mixes. If shelling out four or five bucks is too rich for your blood, though — and in this economy who could blame you? — both are also playing intermittently from now through October 31st on AMC. So without any further ado, let’s set the wayback machine to 1988 and first examine¬† director Dwight H. Little’s Halloween 4 : The Return Of Michael Myers.

Set ten years after Mike’s intial rampage, part 4 finds our favorite masked slasher being transferred from one mental institution to another, but not before he overhears a careless conversation about his sister, Laurie Strode, having a daughter who ‘s being raised by another family back in the old Myers stomping grounds of Haddonfield, Illinois. Sensing this is too good an opportunity for mayhem to pass up, Michael predictably makes his escape while being transferred and sets out for home, where his niece, Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris, who would go on to play a significant role both in this series and in Rob Zombie’s Halloween films, where she played Laurie’s best friend, Annie) finds herself tormented by strange dreams about a silent masked killer who she somehow feels inexplicably connected to — can the venerable Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence, of course — in full scenery-chewing mode, I might add) stop his most infamous patient before he snaps off the last branch of his family tree for good?

All in all, the best thing about the fourth installment in this series is that Michael (played by George P. Wilbur in this one, if you must know) is back and doing what he does best. I’m not one of those people who has nothing good to say about Halloween III : Season Of The Witch — in fact I think it’s a solidly fun and interesting little horror movie — but by 1988 it was time for that blank-featured mask to make its return. Of course, by this point Michael’s pretty much a superhuman force of evil who can’t be killed no matter what, and Pleasence’s Loomis has flipped out to the point where his single-minded obsession to kill Myers has made him almost as dangerous as the serial-slasher himself, but by and large this pretty much follows the original John Carpenter formula to the letter. There’s really nothing new here and after a more-than-five-year absence from the screen maybe some actual innovation in this series could have been hoped for, but hell, it was just so good to see this series get itself back on the traditional slasher track (a track the first Halloween film more or less created, it should be pointed out) that the lack of anything particularly new or interesting didn’t really bug me or any of the other Myers-starved fans out there at the time.

Divorced from its context, though, and viewed as, say, part of a day-long Halloween marathon, there’s nothing about this one that really stands out, either for good or for ill. It’s a by-the-numbers Myers massacre, which was good enough to make it seem really cool at the time, but just kind of relegates it to “solid enough, but honestly nothing all that special” status now. In short, I can’t find any compelling reason not¬† to like Halloween 4 : The Return Of Michael Myers, but there’s nothing going on here to make it stand out from the pack, either. It’s a perfectly serviceable, average installment in the Halloween franchise, which means it’s still better than most other slasher fare (though not all, by any means) and probably well worth your time to catch on AMC this week, if nothing else.

I almost included an “if there’s nothing else on” in that last sentence, but who are we kidding? It’s TV, of course there’s nothing else on.

Oh, and a last postscript before I forget — if you still don’t get some kind of little tingle up your spine when you first hear those piano keys tapping out the Halloween theme tune at the start of any of these films, you’re probably reading the wrong blog.