October 21, 1988 (USA)
Dhani Lipsius, Larry Rattner, Benjamin Ruffner, Alan B. McElroy (screenplay)
Dwight H. Little
Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis
Ellie Cornell as Rachel Carruthers
Danielle Harris as jamie Lloyd
George P. Wilber as Michael Myers
Beau Starr as Sherrif Ben Meeker
There once was a day, long ago, when horror operated under a set of rules that required a bit of common sense and “believability” to storylines. Well, believability is a strong word because there’s a huge suspension of disbelief necessary to watch and enjoy most horror films as they by very nature depict things that don’t exist in our reality day to day, but one thing was clear: If the villain dies, he’s dead.
The Halloween franchise adhered to this basic rule, for a little while… Laurie Strode battles Michael Myers in Halloween until he is “killed” – but when we are allowed to look out the window to where his body is supposed to be to see a body-shaped depression in the lawn and nothing else, we are sure he is very much alive. When Michael comes calling later in Halloween II (which is actually just later in the night from the first Halloween) and is put to rest once and for all, filmmakers decided to respect that fact and, to the chagrin of horror fans, come out with Halloween III with a completely different storyline and nary a Michael Myers to be found. That didn’t last long…
The public outcry for “more Michael” was so strong that it was decided to break the “death is forever” rule and bring Michael back again in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers – and he’s been going strong ever since.
Halloween 4: the Return of Michael Myers propels us forward in time 10 years after “the incident” in Haddonfield and the ultimate survival of Laurie Strode. It turns out he was not killed in number 2, but just went into a coma. Nothing like overhearing that Ms. Laurie Strode has died, but left behind a 7 year old daughter in Haddonfield to snap one out of a comatose state. Michael kills anyone he comes across as he embarks on a pilgrimage to rid the world of the spawn of his late sister.
Halloween 4 is a good return to the classic slasher formula, and a welcome re-introduction to Michael Myers. He has a different mask now that doesn’t look like Captain Kirk (the mask from the original was actually a William Shatner mask, colored white) and he’s chasing a little kid this time (which is weird), but the young star Danielle Harris holds her own against her grumpy Uncle. Harris, of course, has gone on to be a horror favorite appearing in Rob Zombie’s Halloween 1 and 2, Stake Land, Hatchet II, ChromeSkull: Laid to Rest 2 as many others. Danielle Harris does a tremendous job at minimizing the annoying qualities that children in horror can often have, and I’m glad that she is working steadily in horror again. Rumor has it that she will play Barbara in the upcoming Night of the Living Dead: Origins 3D if that one gets off the ground.
Donald Pleasence returns as the crazy Dr. Loomis in this film, and he is classic Donald Pleasence throughout , adding some consistency to the story that is threatened by the absence of Jamie Lee Curtis. The only annoying thing about Dr. Loomis is that he has a blob of wax on his face that he points to as evidence of the burning last stand with Myers 10 years ago, and that blob of wax looks a little silly. We do get to see some pictures of Ms. Jamie Lee strewn about the floor though, and her daughter’s name is Jamie Lloyd, so the influence is undeniable. Actually, Jamie Lloyd has been adopted by the Carruthers family, so a case can be made for the fact that Jamie Lee Curtis’ daughter is named Jamie Lloyd Carruthers. Coincidence?
The gore in Halloween 4 is good and bloody, but there are too many off-screen impact moments… yeah, the knife comes up and barrels down on a screaming co-ed, but I like to see that knife come in contact with the supple skin… alas, we often miss that part. The editing, however, is done in such a way that this cut-away effect is not nearly as noticeable as I’ve seen in other films that pull the same trick, so that’s a plus.
In terms of story, this sequel is pretty strong. Good set-up, nice job side-stepping the fact that Michael died in Halloween 2, and good references made to the original classic. Danielle Harris would go on to reprise her role as Jamie Lloyd in Halloween 5, which takes place shortly after this one. Unfortunately this young girl will cease to exist in H20 (Halloween: 20 Years Later) because Laurie Strode has a son in that one… but oh well. That’s the way the disbelief crumbles.