Saturday, October 4, 2014

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

Well, after John Carpenter tried to veer away from the story of Michael Myers by making part three a standalone movie about a novelty company set out to kill children on Halloween with masks that are triggered to murder all who wear them (yeah, I know, it was a silly premise with some really far-fetched ideas that needed the audience to do more than suspend disbelief and actually turn off their brain—but I have a soft spot for that movie, so I won’t drag it through the mud at all), a decision was made to go back to basics and bring back everybody’s favorite masked killer. 

Since part three upset a lot of fans of the budding Halloween franchise, the consensus was that they wanted Michael Myers back to continue his violent pillaging in Haddonfield.  Did they care that he obviously burned to death at the end of part two?  I mean, the credits were rolling for quite a few minutes with his body lying in front of us on fire.  No one could have survived that.

But Moustapha Akkad (executive producer of every single Halloweenmovie until his death in 2005) listened and he made sure to satisfy the devotees of the first two films by having the horror icon of Michael Myers resurrected for the next sequel.  Though it took six years to do so, fans finally rejoiced in 1988 when Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers was released to theaters.

I honestly can’t remember if I had gone to see this movie when it was released.  I’m pretty sure I had, but then again, I’d partook in a lot of pot-smoking back then so my long-term memory is a little less than perfect.  However, I do remember thinking about how awesome it was that the filmmakers brought back Michael Myers to do what he did best, believing full well that it was probably a pissing contest with theFriday the 13th franchise—they had Jason on that side, so Halloweenneeded to bring back Michael on theirs.

I’ll say this: if you can forget what was obvious at the end of part two, you can see this film as one hell of a story that had some great ideas and was pretty frightening.  Though Jamie Lee Curtis was missing from the story, the explanation of her character’s absence is believable and wasn’t a disadvantage in getting into the plot.  In no way does it hold a candle to carpenter’s 1978 masterpiece, but it does have its merits.

Directed by Dwight H. Little, who’d only had a couple of forgettable movies in his résumé at the time, he understood what needed to be done and gave us a worthy sequel in the franchise.

It’s been ten years since the explosion at the hospital left Michael Myers (George P. Wilbur) in a coma, remaining as a patient at the medical ward of Richmond Mental Institution.  But when being
transferred to Smith’s Grove, he somehow hears the medics saying that he has a niece, Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris), and awakens from his catatonia.  When word gets to Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence), who is badly scarred after surviving the blast at the hospital all those years ago, he goes after the ambulance that took Michael away.  After finding the vehicle halfway submerged in a river and seeing the bloodied bodies left behind, Loomis knows where Michael is headed and who he’s going after.

First and foremost, the biggest problem I have with this movie (not to mention the two sequels that follow) is the mask Michael Myers wears.  It looks so different than the one used in the first two films and that has always bothered me each and every time I re-watch this film.  I’ve heard stories about how the mask was given away and another that said the mask was too messed up to reuse for this film.  I’ve even heard that the hair on the mask became bleached over time and looked blond, so they didn’t think it would look good on film.  Actually, I believe that last story because of a scene that you can see in this movie.  It’s near the end, when Loomis is in the school with Jamie as Michael comes out and attacks him.  In that quick cut of a scene (you may have to put the player in slow motion or go frame-by-frame), you can see that Michael Myers is wearing the correct mask and, sure enough, the hair looks blond…almost white in color.  But if they had the mask, couldn’t they have colored the hair?  Or maybe recreate it perfectly since they had the original mask they can go by?  I guess you can tell that this has bothered me for a long time.  But you get used to the mask as the movie goes along, so let’s move on, shall we?

Secondly, the guy who plays Michael did an okay job at his portrayal—I can’t knock him for that—but his body type was a little off for the part.  He appeared to be wearing shoulder pads and just had an awkward appearance…it was just hard to believe this was the same Michael that was going after Laurie Strode some years before.

Overall, the scenes featured in the film, where Michael is going after victims, stalking them or just outright killing them, are great.  You have some really scary parts where you really don’t know what to expect.  Although some sections of the film don’t seem to make sense (suddenly all the trick-or-treaters disappear and leave the streets deserted as Jamie is wandering the streets alone) or are left unexplained (when it’s discovered Michael was able to kill every single cop in the Haddonfield precinct), the movie as a whole is fun and follows the slasher formula nicely.  Although it’s more of the same thing as what the two original films gave us, it’s entertaining to have Michael back and remaining in theHalloween franchise for good.

My final “bit” on Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers?

As a whole, the film is your typical 1980s slasher, yet an above average sequel in the franchise. 
Pleasence really starts to go over the top in this one, but is surrounded by some good performances, especially by the ten-year-old Danielle Harris.  If you can get by the odd look of Michael Myers, you’ll find this outing exceptionally well done.

Thanks for reading and Happy Halloween!

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