Halloween Horrors 2011 : “Halloween 4 : The Return Of Michael Myers”

Posted: October 24, 2011 in movies
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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.

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