Ten years after they were burned to death, Micheal Myers and Dr. Sam Loomis are once again returning to Haddonfield. Halloween 4 retcons their fiery death at the end of the second film; this is normally something that would bother me. Halloween 4 is so good though that I overlook it and I’m glad they kept the two alive. The film opens with an amazing montage of rustic Autumnal landscapes that should be beautiful, but their bareness makes them unsettling. The first two films opened with a jack-o-latern, and director Dwight Little (Marked for Death, Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home) is laying down the gauntlet to let us this one will be different. Micheal (stuntman George Wilbur) has been in a coma since Loomis (Donald Pleasence, of course) blew up a hospital to kill him and is being transported to a new facility without proper restraints because the Smith’s Grove Sanitarium employees are horrible at their job. Needless to say, Micheal once again breaks loose and returns to finish what he started while Loomis catches wind and gives chase. Micheal’s sister Laurie Strode has died (Jamie Lee Curtis had other priorities at this time) but not before giving birth to a little girl Jaime Lloyd (Danielle Harris, Hatchet II, Rob Zombie’s Halloween) who is now in a foster home and in Micheal’s cross-hairs.
What I love about this film is how effective and brutal Micheal is to make sure nothing stands in his way. Loomis tracks Micheal down to an auto-repair/gas station where Micheal steals a tow truck and rams it into a gas tank. This causes an explosion which serves the purpose of blowing up Loomis’s hoopty and severing the phone lines so Loomis can’t call for help or warn the Haddonfield residents. This leads to one of the more interesting scenes in the film as Loomis catches a ride with a drunken priest (Carmen Filpi, Escape from New York, Wayne’s World) hunting down damnation, and Loomis finds himself among a kindred spirit for the first time in the series. It’s almost as if this priest has his own film series where he functions as the Ahab character and wandered into the Halloween series momentarily. The scene is also notable because it’s the last time we’ll see Loomis crack a smile.
Micheal arrives in Haddonfield, gets a new mask (one of the best in the series), and proceeds to murder the entire police department before taking out their municipality’s power system (RIP Bucky). Sheriff Ben Meeker (Beau Starr Goodfellas, Speed) is none too pleased with this and immediately puts a curfew on the town. This doesn’t sit well with the local bar patrons who are rightfully annoyed their drinking is being interrupted, so they form a militia to take down Micheal Myers. Meanwhile, Jamie has been tormented by visions of her demonic uncle, and in a bit of foreshadowing, is wearing the same clown costume Micheal wore before killing his sister. Jamie’s adopted sister Rachel Carruthers (Elle Cornell, Married to the Mob, House of the Dead) looses track of Jamie while out trick or treating after finding her love interest Brady (Sasha Jenson, Ghoulies II, Dazed and Confused) is hanging out with the sheriff’s hottie daughter Kelly (Kathleen Kinmont, Hardbodies, Bride of Re-Animator) who spends the film walking around in only a t-shirt (Cops Do it By the Book) and panties, even after her dad comes home. After all these characters are gathered in Sheriff Meeker’s house, Micheal attacks and sets up the showdown.
I’m going to go ahead and get this out of the way: Halloween 4: The Return of Micheal Myers is my favorite entry in the series and I freely admit this may be chalked up largely due to the 1988 nostalgia. I was in first grade when this film took place, and strongly remember going to the drug stores to view the Halloween aisle and being fascinated by the masks and make-up kits. The shot in the drug store of the Living Nightmare make up kit brings back a lot of memories; I used one of those to be a werewolf one year. The nostalgia factor not withstanding, this is a solid film. Dwight Little and screenwriter Alan B. McElroy (Resident Evil, Wrong Turn 2-6) were big fans of the series and wanting to step it up a notch. Their attempt to shake up the franchise by killing off Micheal and replacing him with Jamie was a bold movie and a rather depressing ending (Loomis sells it) that could have led the franchise into more stories. Unfortunately, the series suffers from what I dub “Terminator Syndrome”, where the studios believe the plot should focus on one person/character (Arnold Schwarzenegger/T-800 in Terminator’s case) instead of letting the story develop organically focusing on other characters. This leads to creative stagnation and retread (see Halloween 5: The Revenge of Micheal Myers) before eventually committing hare-kiri (see Halloween: Resurrection). Halloween 4 remains masterclass in how to do a sequel, and is the last great entry in the series.
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