Halloween Marathon: 1988
I’m doing this because I haven’t seen them all and have a lot of work to do and need something to watch. It’s been about 20 odd years since I watched this original, so let’s delve back in…
Movie: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
Director: Dwight H. Little
Cast: Danielle Harris, Donald Pleasence, Ellie Cornell, George P. Wilbur, Michael Pataki, Beau Starr, Kathleen Kinmont
Plot: Michael Myers awakens from a ten year coma upon hearing that he has a niece. He makes his way back to Haddonfield to begin another killing spree.
Review: Having failed to pivot the Halloween franchise into an anthology, it was only a matter of time before the most bankable part of the series was brought back. It’s with this film that we establish a clear framework for Michael Myers adventures, as this feels more like a cheap retread of previous films. This is the first time that Michael’s story has been extended beyond the one initial Halloween attack, and the first time he hasn’t been targeting Laurie Strode. Instead this time he escapes while being transported for a surgical procedure and goes on the hunt for his niece, Jamie (Harris).
Laurie Strode as been written out in between movies, having allegedly been killed along with a husband in a car accident. Jamie lives with a foster family, including her adopted sister Rachel (Cornell). although Rachel is frustrated that babysitting Jamie on Halloween has cancelled her date night, she has a good relationship with her sister. Although it’s pretty weird their parents would leave them alone on Halloween knowing that Michael Myers is still alive. When Michael does turn up back in Haddonfield, Jamie and Rachel join the sheriff and his family in fortifying his house to try and defend themselves from the killer.
Along for the ride is Dr. Loomis, played by a returning Donald Pleasence. Although both Michael and Loomis were supposedly blown to pieces at the end of Halloween II. They explain their reappearance by putting the former in a coma for ten years and giving the latter some burn scars on his face. At least, it’s supposed to be a burn scar, it looks more like a piece of tape peeling off. It’s a cheap and ineffective effect, much like the new, bright white mask for Michael. All round the movie just looks cheap and rushed. Loomis follows Michael across the country, during which we get weird encounters that involve Michael tearing through walls in a truck. It feels quite out of place.
One thing that does stand out is the performance of Danielle Harris. She plays the young Jamie at only 11 years old and brings a remarkable maturity to the role. She plays a very genuine child character, and it’s a shame that it’s a character with very little agency of her own. She doesn’t have much to support her in terms of her co-stars either. Even the legendary Pleasence is mostly phoning it in, having devolved the character to deranged lunatic.
It’s not a stand-out movie by any stretch. We’ve gone from an exercise in suspense and tension to a fairly generic slasher movie. If it wasn’t for the brand recognition the movie wouldn’t have stood out from this era.
Rating: FOUR out of TEN