Dwight H. Little, 1988
Starring: Donald Pleasence, Ellie Cornell, Danielle Harris, Michael Pataki
Despite being in a coma for years after nearly being burned alive in a hospital during Halloween II, Michael Myers awakens during transportation in an ambulance and kills everyone in order to go search for his niece, Jamie, living with foster parents in Haddonfield. Dr. Loomis learns of this and also makes his way to Haddonfield to search for Michael and warn the residents. Loomis and the local Sheriff try to find Jamie, who is out trick or treating with her teenage foster sister Rachel. Rachel discovers her boyfriend Brady at her friend Kelly’s house, obviously there on a date. Rachel and Brady fight and she loses track of Jamie. Michael, meanwhile, has cut the town’s power and phone lines and goes in search of Jamie.
Rachel and Jamie reunite in the dark just as Michael is closing in on them, but Loomis and the Sheriff drive up and rescue them. They all barricade themselves into the Sheriff’s house, where Brady was just making out with Kelly (the Sheriff’s daughter). Awwwwkward. They wait for reinforcements to show up in the form of the State police, but unfortunately Michael has snuck in the house and begins killing everyone. Will Jamie survive?
After audience frustration with the amazing Halloween III: Season of the Witch, studios wanted everyone to be damned sure that Halloween 4 involved Michael Myers, so they titled it Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. Just in case you had doubts. This is essentially take two on the original film and retreads much of the same ground. Michael Myers stalks a girl in Haddonfield on Halloween night, though director Dwight Little was careful not too make it too repetitive. Michael knocks out the town’s entire power supply, blows up a gas station, kills what seems like half the town including much of the local police force, etc.
Keep in mind that this was made for one reason: profit. It follows the formula of many other ‘80s slasher sequels and though it isn’t a bad film, it isn’t overly original or memorable. Except for the mind-blowing ending, which I’m not going to reveal here, but wow. I can’t believe they got away with that and it’s upsetting that Halloween 5 didn’t follow up with the same plot line. If you’ve seen the original Halloween enough times, you can see it coming, but that just adds to the suspense.
There are, surprisingly, some entertaining things about Halloween 4, especially if you love dumb ‘80s sequels. There’s a good scene where two innocent Halloweeners happen to be dressed as Michael Myers and Loomis and the Sheriff nearly shoot them. Fortunately, this also discontinues the tired conceit of Halloween and Halloween II that Dr. Loomis is frothing at the mouth about how dangerous Myers is, but everyone, including local law enforcement, ignores him. Here the entire town jumps to the ready, going so far as to form a mob of ridiculous vigilantes armed with shotguns and pickup trucks.
After filming was complete, some additional scenes of gore and violence were added, making this almost on par with Halloween II in the blood department. As with Halloween II, most of it comes across as being amusing. There is an absolutely ridiculous scene where Michael Myers, supposedly in a coma, jumps up and jams his thumb through someone’s forehead. In another scene, he impales someone with shotgun. Hilarity ensues.
Dwight H. Little also directed a 1989 version of Phantom of the Opera and other forgotten films, as well as episodes of television crime dramas like Castle, Bones, and 24. Screenwriter Alan B. McElroy also wrote Spawn and most of the Wrong Turn series, so, well, there’s that. McElroy does loosely acknowledged the ending of Halloween II. Loomis and Michael are burned, but not dead. Laurie and her unnamed husband are dead - I believe from a car crash - but their surviving daughter Jamie has the same last name as Jimmy Lloyd, the EMT who had a crush on Laurie in the hospital during Halloween II.
Donald Pleasence is obviously the most talented actor in the film and he’s really the only reason I signed up to watch Halloween 4 in the first place. Ellie Cornell (Rachel) and Danielle Harris (Jamie) are decent, but are clearly actresses in a horror remake. Which is to say that they’re good at screaming and seeming distressed, but not much else is required of them.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I would recommend Halloween 4, particularly to fans of slasher films and ‘80s sequels. The ending alone makes it worth watching, preferably with some alcohol. Definitely go for a rental, and it is available on special edition DVD.