Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
halloween | halloween 4: the return of michael myers | sequel | michael myers | dwight h. little | alan b. mcelroy | donald pleasence | ellie cornell | danielle harris | slasher | thriller | united states | george p. wilbur | michael pataki | beau starr | kathleen kinmont
Film: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
Director: Dwight H. Little
Writer: Alan B. McElroy
Starring: Donald Pleasence, Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris
This is a movie that I don’t actually remember the first time I saw it. I know that I would have seen it a lot when it would come on the AMC FrightFest for October so it is one I’ve seen quite a bit. I’m not even sure if I saw the original before this one or not. Regardless, I know I picked up the DVD while I was in college, but I probably hadn’t seen it in some time. I’m now giving it another viewing as I’m discussing it on the Podcast Under the Stairs. The synopsis here is ten years after his original massacre, the invalid Michael Myers (George P. Wilbur) awakens on Halloween Eve and returns to Haddonfield to kill his seven-year-old niece. Can Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) stop him?
For this movie, we start on October 30th, 1988. An ambulance goes to a state-run sanitarium where they’re keeping Michael Myers. This is picking up as the synopsis states, ten years after the first two movies. The movie is a bit unrealistic as to what happens at the end of 2 with Michael and Dr. Loomis, but I digress. Two attendants are there to collect Michael. They're running late due to the heavy storm and the doctor in charge, Dr. Hoffman (Michael Pataki), is ready to be rid of this patient. The attendants ask about Dr. Loomis and we get the idea that he’s not well liked and hoping with Michael gone, he will retire. They hit the road and bring up that Michael has a niece. He kills the attendants, causing a car accident.
We then shift over to Haddonfield on Halloween. Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) is the niece of Michael. Her mother was Laurie Strode and this poor girl is an orphan after her parents died in a car accident. When we first get to meet Jamie, she is having trouble sleeping and thinks she sees an ambulance and Michael outside. Her adopted sister, Rachel Carruthers (Ellie Cornell) convinces her to go to bed where she has a nightmare.
The next morning is an interesting interaction where Darlene (Karen Alston) informs her daughter Rachel that she is going to have to babysit when the other cancels. She isn’t happy about this as she has a date that night with Brady (Sasha Jenson). She is carrying on and Jamie unfortunately hears. This causes her to feel horrible for being a pain to which Rachel does what she can to cheer her up. Jamie has it rough in that she is also bullied at school due to who her uncle is.
Dr. Loomis comes into work to find out that Michael was moved the previous night. He’s not shocked to hear about the accident and he goes on a hunt to find him. This leads to a gas station where Michael kills the mechanic and the other people working. He takes a jumpsuit and when Dr. Loomis shows up, leaves the place in a state of mayhem. Dr. Loomis has to hitchhike in order to get to Haddonfield where he meets with the new sheriff, Ben Meeker (Beau Starr).
It doesn’t take long for Michael to start killing as he looks for his niece. Sheriff Meeker calls for a curfew which upsets some men in the town. They create a posse looking for Michael as well. Jamie gets separated from Rachel while they’re out and there's also a weird interest that the younger girl has in her choice of costume. Can Jamie survive the night from her monstrous uncle and if she does, what will be left of her psyche?
Now I’ll admit I have a lot of nostalgia for this movie since I used to see it as much as I did. When I was younger, I really had a crush on Harris and I thought this is an interesting way to build back on the story with Michael Myers. Being a little bit older, I can see that this one is really borrowing heavy from the original. We have him making his escape from a mental hospital, making his way to Haddonfield, being hunted by Dr. Loomis, being obsessed with hunting a specific individual and then our characters making a stand. There are some similar deaths here as well. That’s not to say though that I hated this and I mean this is following a similar formula of a lot of slashers as well.
Having now watched the original quite a few times, I don’t necessarily need the angle of Michael being related to Laurie or Jamie. Since I grew up so long with it, I do still have that soft spot for it. It is scarier though with this guy just being a psycho who is going around killing people on Halloween. There is still something though to that fact that at this time, he just has an insatiable need to kill his family as he is just pure evil.
I don’t know if the character of Dr. Loomis works as well here. The burn on his face doesn’t necessarily match up to what we saw in Halloween 2. If I’m going to ignore that, I do think that Pleasence does well at showing someone who has descended into madness. Now that I really think of it, there’s an interesting duality here between him and Michael. His obsession is this patient that until he dies, he will never be able to not worry where all Michael wants to do is kill Jamie. I do love his meltdown at the end of the movie as well.
Before moving on to other aspects of the movie, I want to bring up the mob and their mentality. Sheriff Meeker is told by Dr. Loomis that Michael is back. It is interesting that he believes him and he immediately puts in effect a curfew. Currently living in this pandemic for COVID is interesting, because Earl (Gene Ross) who owns a local bar tries to call the police. When he can’t get through, he rounds up his guys to go down there to see what is going on. The reason this really resonances is that this is exactly what happened when the economy had to be shut down. We also see what happens when you let people like this lot run rampant with their guns.
Where I want to take this next is the acting. I’ve already said my piece on Pleasence. I like Cornell. She is cute and plays this typical high school girl well. She is worried about if she doesn’t go out with her boyfriend, what he might do. There is of course much more to life, but for someone her age, there isn’t. Harris is also adorable in this movie and I just feel bad for her. There’s a lot going on with her that someone her age should have to deal with. She isn’t great, but I believe her. Wilbur is fine body wise as Michael. I do like Starr as the new sheriff. I would also say that the rest of the cast rounds this out for what was needed, even though it would be nice to have seen Kathleen Kinmont completely topless.
Next I’ll take this to the effects. This movie is a bit more brutal than I remember. It fits well into the latter half of the slasher boom. It is interesting as it came out at a time where we were getting more comedy in these types of movies. What I did notice is that we could get to see the deaths, but they would cut away without going gory. I’m assuming this was in part due to censorship. To be honest though, it was fine. We get some interesting deaths regardless. I don’t care for the mask though for Michael. That was really a step back from the previous two movies with him. I also have an inkling the scar on Loomis’ face is inconsistent and even switches cheeks at different times. Aside from that though, I’d say the cinematography was fine.
The last thing to go over would be the soundtrack. I have to give credit that they kept the main Halloween theme that John Carpenter did. This one you can tell he didn’t score outside of that. It does look like Alan Howarth did the music for this one though. It isn’t as iconic, but I’d say that he did good with the rest of the score fitting for what was needed.
So now with that said, this movie is of course not as good as I remember it as a child. It also isn’t as bad as I was expecting now watching it with a critical eye. I can see its flaws, but I still enjoyed it as a latter slasher and fine as sequel to a classic. Not all of the story elements work and I don’t necessarily need the family angle. Since we are getting, I will say that I’m fine where it goes. The ending does leave them open for a sequel, which we all know did come. The acting was solid. The effects are interesting since we cut away before we get the gore, but I think what we get leading up to them does well enough. Soundtrack isn’t as iconic while still working. Overall I’d say this is an above average movie that although isn’t great, is still good time.
My Rating: 7 out of 10