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Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers (1988) review


Director: Dwight H Little

Starring: Donald Pleasence, Danielle Lloyd, Ellie Cornell, George P Wilbur

“We’re not talking about any ordinary prisoner, Hoffman. We are talking about evil on two legs.” (Dr Sam Loomis, Halloween 4)

While Halloween III: Season Of The Witch wasn’t a bad movie by any means (in fact, judging by the films to follow it was one of the better entries in the series), many moviegoers were enraged when they found that the film they’d gone to see didn’t continue the story of evil stalker Michael Myers and was instead a completely different tale about a nutjob plotting to kill children with cursed Halloween masks powered by Stonehenge. A brilliant (if fucking insane) idea, sure, but you can understand people’s annoyance at paying for a Halloween film and not getting to see Michael Myers.

“Oh, hello there. Um, this is awkward. You weren’t supposed to know I was here. Boy, is my face white.”

As explained in the Halloween III review, this was mainly down to John Carpenter’s wish to make the Halloween movies a collection of unrelated stories all based on Halloween. The first two films would be the Michael Myers story, the third would be the one about the cursed masks, the fourth would be something completely different again. When the fans turned on this idea and the studio told Carpenter they wanted a standard slasher with Michael Myers in it he decided “fuck you then” and ditched the series altogether.

Determined to to make some serious greenbacks with a Myers return, producer Moustapha Akkad decided to start work on Halloween 4, being sure to include “The Return Of Michael Myers” as part of its title to ensure people who’d abandoned the series knew they were getting him this time. In a rush to beat the writer’s strike of the late ’80s, the entire film was written in 11 days. The result is a movie that, while not great, did a decent job of bringing back “The Shape”.

Donald Pleasence is on fine form again as Sam Loomis, complete with the burns from his fight with Myers in Halloween II

Set ten years after the fateful night of Halloween and Halloween II, Michael Myers remains in a coma as he is transferred to the Ridgement Federal Sanitarium. Naturally, it doesn’t go quite as expected and he wakes up in the ambuland en route, booting the shite out of everyone and causing the ambulance to fall off a bridge, crashing into a stream. Myers escapes and begins to make his way back to Haddonfield, to complete his task of killing the rest of his family.

What’s that you say? The rest of his family? Oh, that’s right, you didn’t know he also has a niece who’s never been mentioned before. You see, eight-year-old Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) has been living with a foster family ever since her mum Laurie died nearly a year prior back. That’s right, Jamie Lee Curtis was doing well for herself by this point and clearly didn’t want to get involved with the Halloween sequels so her character was unceremoniously bumped off between films. Anyway, stalking an eight-year-old is much scarier than stalking a teenager and so Jamie Lloyd is the target this time.

For reasons never explained, Jamie is having nightmares about Myers, and has some sort of psychic bond with him so she knows when he’s around. Her foster sister (Ellie Cornell) naturally just thinks she’s a bit mental (ahem) but as Myers gets closer to Haddonfield and Jamie starts freaking out more and more, it becomes clear that she isn’t fucking around.

“Don’t worry, those kids were just playing. You aren’t really dressed like a dickhead”

When the Mickster finally makes it to town things essentially turn into a less powerful, less effective redo of the first film with Myers chasing Jamie and her step-sister around and killing their friends in the process. None of these kills are particularly inventive or scary, and there aren’t many jump scares to speak of, meaning either people were complete pussies in the mid ‘80s or this just failed to get the job done. I don’t know about you but I think I’m going with the latter.

Halloween 4 is harmless enough so I wouldn’t quite hammer it with criticism in the same way its subsequent sequels deserve. What saves it is its ending, because after Michael Myers is “killed” in one of the least convincing ways I’ve seen in any slasher film, there’s a very clever twist that threatens to send the series in a completely different, fresh direction in the inevitable fifth film. Ultimately this didn’t happen and Halloween 5 bottled it, instead sending the series in the direction of a bucket full of cocks, but that’s for another review. Halloween 4 is a slightly worse-than-average slasher with a significantly better-than-average ending.

Halloween 4 is available on DVD for a couple of quid from Amazon, it isn’t available on Blu-ray yet. It also isn’t available for streaming on either Netflix or LOVEFiLM.

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