Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
"Welcome to hell."
Because Halloween 3 did not take place within the Michael Myers storyline, the producers of Halloween 4 gave it a subtitle that leaves no room for misinterpretation: the inhuman killer with William Shatner's rubbery visage will indeed return to Haddonfield, The Small Town That Just Doesn't Learn. His favorite victim, however, is long gone.
Michael's sister Laurie Strode, played by Jamie Lee Curtis in the first two films, is nowhere to be found in part four. Instead, her daughter, Jamie Lloyd (so named in an obvious homage to Curtis), is still residing in Haddonfield after the death of her parents. (Awww man, you mean Laurie lived through all of that crap with Michael Myers only to die in a car accident or something?) Why anyone related to a psycho killer with a penchant for killing his own family would remain in the same town is beyond us, but there it is. Adopted by the Carruthers family, Jamie lives an insecure life, taunted by her classmates ("Your uncle's the boogeyman!") and unsure of her relationship with her foster sister, Rachel. Rachel, for her part, loves Jamie, but is a teenager and is subject to the normal behavior problems incurred by being a teenager in a horror film.
"We're talking about evil on two legs."
Up to this point, the pacing and character development are fairly good. Loomis has a roadside run-in with Myers at a truck stop before making it to Haddonfield, the inevitable sex scene is set up, and the police are alerted just as Michael begins his killing spree. To their credit, the sherriff takes Loomis at his word and sends out an alert immediately. "There aren't many people in Haddonfield who can forget your name, Doctor," says Sherriff Meeker. "Especially the police."
"This is startin' to spook me, Doc."
To be fair, Halloween 4 has some genuine scares. One nice touch set up early in the film is Jamie's choice of Halloween costume -- it's a clown costume similar to the one Michael wears at the beginning of the first film. Also, there's a bewildering and frightening scene in which multiple Michaels appear, surrounding Loomis and the sherriff. The cinematography is clean and the production values are high. Nice little details like these make Halloween 4 more than the average underbudgeted slasher flick.
The best acting, of course, comes from Pleasence and, surprisingly, Danielle Harris as Jamie. This little girl can scream pretty well. The expected goofy teenager peformances are given by Ellie Cornell as Rachel and the other adolescent members of the cast, although Cornell is clearly the best of the bunch.
"You can't kill damnation, mister. It don't die like a man does."
Undoubtedly, the most important thing about Halloween 4 is its ending, which is probably the most creative and suprising ending ever filmed for the fourth film in a series. It's a development at which you could probably guess, but it's still darn creepy to see it on screen, especially with the reactions of Doctor Loomis.
While not the equal of the first Halloween, The Return of Michael Myers justifies its existence as a continuation of the Myers story. It's not at all innovative in terms of action, but it does further the plot and provides some satisfaction to those of us who are continually asking: "What happens next?"
Review date: 12/4/97
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