Michael Myers is the original Undertaker. Think about it. He often no-sells your offence. When you’ve knocked him down and he’s just laying there on the ground, teasing you with his motionlessness, he’ll pause for a few moments before suddenly sitting up. And maybe I’m not remembering correctly, but I’m pretty sure he’s chokeslammed a few victims, as well.
Or maybe I’m thinking of his brother Kane who does all of these things and wears a mask.
At any event, Myers is the silent killer who can’t be killed because dead horror villains aren’t profitable. So, after being shot multiple times and seriously burned in the first two Halloween movies (and taking a vacation from number three), preposterously he’s ordered back into action for a round of mindless butchery in Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers, one of the silliest entries in the series.
10 years after the events of Halloween and Halloween II, the recaptured, should-be-dead man, now supposedly docile and completely out of it (ahem), is about to be transferred into state custody by complete idiots who don’t know what they’re getting into. No one bothered to inform the indefatigable Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance), Myers’ longtime, battle-scarred psychiatrist, about this. (Was he really sent a memo? I call bullshit.) He tries convincing a very dumb, wrongfully skeptical colleague that this is a very bad idea indeed. Even after that same colleague gets a timely phone call about a very suspicious “accident”, he still doesn’t think it’s a very big deal, especially after they check out the scene together.
Dr. Loomis knows better and is soon back in his car searching desperately for his difficult patient. He tracks him down at a gas station where he’s already offed a couple of employees and destroyed a couple of phones. (Clever murderer.) Pleading with him to end his long association with this series instead of annihilating a bunch of nobodies we’ll never see again, Myers somehow avoids being shot (what is he, The Flash?) and, in one of a number of unintentionally humourous scenes, manages to blow up the gas station.
The limping Loomis, who had dropped his wooden cane before attempting to 187 the masked man, is suddenly able to leap into the air to avoid getting burned a second time. It’s a good thing, too, because the make-up representing what he went through in Halloween II already looks bad. (Ditto the burn marks on Myers’ hands. In his case, they look like dried puke.)
As The Undertaker’s inspiration heads back to his old murdering grounds in Haddonfield, Illinois, we meet Laurie Strode’s now orphaned daughter Jamie (the adorable Danielle Harris) who initially refuses to dress for Halloween but then decides, because of the bullies at school, to be a clown. A bad sign.
Now adopted by the Carruthers, a local family, she’s particularly close to the cute, virginal Rachel (Ellie Cornell), their teenage daughter. Although initially annoyed that she’ll be babysitting little Jamie on Halloween rather than having a date with the bushy-eyebrowed Brady (Sasha Jenson), she proves accommodating especially after Jamie lays the guilt trip on her. (They learn so young.)
The impatient Brady doesn’t sound particularly thrilled with Rachel’s news but unbeknownst to his loyal girlfriend, he’s got a reliable back-up, Kelly (Kathleen Kinmont), the buxom blonde daughter of the new sheriff. One look gives it all away.
Like her not-really-dead mother in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, Jamie suffers night terrors about her ruthless uncle. She encounters him for the first time in a local pharmacy where Brady and Kelly work after she selects her costume. (Did that asshole even pay for that mask? Motherfucker!)
As night falls, Rachel takes a now enthusiastic Jamie trick-or-treating. When they stop by the sheriff’s place, Rachel learns the truth about her cheating boyfriend and while having an argument with him outside she gets separated from Jamie who goes off to the next house with some of her now strangely friendly classmates.
Eventually reunited, they’re spotted by Dr. Loomis and the sheriff (Beau Starr) who just happen to be driving up in a police car. Long before that, Loomis, having hitched a ride with an old, wacky nut obsessed with the apocalypse and unkillable damnation after his car blows up at the gas station, patiently explains to the sheriff why the town needs to lock their doors and stay off the streets. This time, his prescient warnings are heeded.
But stupidity still reigns supreme most notably in the film’s final act. Myers has secretly hitched a ride with one of the sheriff’s brain dead deputies. When said deputy goes back to get a rifle from his trunk, he notices an open passenger door. He looks around, pops the hood, grabs the weapon, goes back inside and never once mentions this rather important development to anyone in the house.
Shortly thereafter, Dr. Loomis suddenly decides to depart and check out the Carruthers’ residence again erroneously thinking that Myers will show up there for a second time. (Loomis already examined Jamie’s bedroom. Poor Sunday.) Right after learning that a bunch of drunken, trigger happy vigilantes have accidentally shot an innocent man mysteriously hiding in some bushes, the sheriff exits, as well.
That leaves Rachel, her hot rival Kelly, Ernest Borgnine wannabe Brady, Jamie and the aforementioned deputy who looks like Roger Waters to fend for themselves. As always, Myers proves that he has all the advantages in this cinematic handicap match. (Throwing Bucky into that transformer beforehand was smart.) The numbers get reduced very quickly. Maybe locking themselves in wasn’t such a swift move.
Which brings us to the ending. (We’ll just skip over the nonsense involving the showdown at Jamie’s school (how did Myers and Rachel get there so fast?) and the battle royale on the pick-up truck.) I’ll say this for it. It’s not like the filmmakers didn’t foreshadow what was going to happen. The problem is it doesn’t work. How do you go from being terrorized to suddenly being a terrorizer in your own right?
We’ll never know because apparently Halloween 5 doesn’t address this at all. (I’ve yet to see it.) Furthermore, it’s not even an original idea. Didn’t Friday The 13th do something similar in one of its god awful sequels? (If memory serves, there was no follow through there, either.)
With far more unplanned laughs (Pleasance’s cries of “No!” at the end are particularly lame; some of the kill scenes are equally cheesy, especially the first one) than thrills (the exception being Myers briefly showing his masked face in the background without being detected), Halloween 4 is far away from an ideal horror movie.
And to think, a number of people, including critics, think this is one of the better sequels.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, October 4, 2015