They didn’t kill him. Why am I not surprised?
At the end of Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers, the masked superdemon gets pumped full of holes, thanks to the dedicated members of the Haddonfield, Illinois sheriff’s office. Literally dozens of bullets whip through his body before he falls into the abandoned mine directly underneath his feet.
At the start of Halloween 5, reality takes yet another holiday as we learn this slippery son of a bitch still isn’t dead. He manages to ease his way out of the mine undetected, despite taking all those shots, just as an oblivious deputy lights a stick of dynamite. As he makes his way through an adjoining river, he ends up collapsing at a lonely old man’s humble abode, unbeknownst to anyone else around. Their only companion? You guessed it, a yappy parrot.
One year later, ol’ Mikey is somehow fully rehabilitated and so appreciative of being granted another chance at killing teenagers and cops, he hacks up the old man as a personal thank you. (How touching.) Now sporting an unexplained wrist tattoo, it’s not long before he locates more victims.
Meanwhile, Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris), Myers’ young, tormented niece, is at a children’s clinic. Apparently, it wasn’t her idea to stab her adopted mother with those scissors at the end of the last sequel. No sir. Her dastardly uncle somehow commanded her to do it. (Mom survives but is never seen. She does send her love, though.) Jamie is temporarily robbed of her ability to speak and pretty much remains in a terrified state. She continues to have night terrors and can now sense what Uncle Mikey is up to. (Not exactly original or credible. How does touching one’s hand suddenly give you additional mental powers?)
The only one aware of her newfound ability is Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance cashing in an easy paycheck). Maybe the hunt for his most difficult patient is finally getting to him because he’s not exactly kind to the traumatized Jamie. On more than one occasion he screams at her to tell him what she knows. It takes her a while to regain her voice, though. (Doc, your bedside manner is crap.)
We get reacquainted with Rachel (Ellie Cornell), Jamie’s protective older sister, who’s back in town against her parents’ wishes to visit her fellow survivor. At the same time, Ol’ Mikey hasn’t forgotten she escaped the venomous thrusts of his trusty kitchen knife a year ago so he does the quiet pop-in while she’s trying to have a shower. Exceedingly patient, the man in the Shatner mask bides his time. He’s never in a rush. (Guess he tapes all his shows.)
Rachel has foolishly adopted a replacement dog for Jamie, a large Doberman named Max who barks a lot but meets the same fate as her last pooch. (Poor Sunday.) Also, her annoying friend Tina (Wendy Kaplan) and her car-obsessed boyfriend Mikey (Jonathan Chapin) are planning to have fun at a costume party with hot blonde Samantha (Tamara Glynn) and her prank-happy squeeze Spitz (Matthew Walker). Tina invites an initially reluctant Rachel to come join them.
In the midst of all this forgettable tedium, a mystery man with steel-toed boots and a cowboy hat suddenly arrives by bus for reasons that only become clear in the final scene. He has the same wrist tattoo as the killer.
Before we get there, though, loony Dr. Loomis seriously breaches his ethics by using Jamie as bait to lure an insatiable Myers back to his childhood home. (He sets the trap by taunting his old patient to come find him there.) Backed up by some of Haddonfield, Illinois’ finest (ha!), Myers unexpectedly makes a pit stop to the children’s clinic, which means all but one cop hauls ass to the scene. (Did they not learn their lesson from the previous movie?)
Halloween 5 feels a lot more like a Friday The 13th sequel with its constant false alarms (they got me on two of them, even though both are cheap scares), absurd, fluid logic (what’s with all the kittens in the barn?) and long, drawn-out scenes that often exist just to jerk you around (stop wearing that mask, Spitz). Also, the murders are far less silly compared to its predecessor. Michael Myers must’ve studied Jason Voorhees’ technique in between movies. That’s not a good thing.
That said, there’s no escaping the fatal flaw of this franchise, the ludicrous invincibility of its antagonist. (How is it that bullets don’t kill him? Is he wearing a bulletproof vest without telling anyone?) What made Myers so scary to me as a kid was that he was a human monster. He may have been a mute (grunts and heavy breathing, notwithstanding) in a white mask and he may have been stronger & smarter than everybody else (except Loomis) but he wasn’t an alien from another world. He was a psychopath from our own.
The constant reminder that you can’t really kill him is stupid and unrealistic. It’s also a cynical excuse to keep churning out very dumb sequels.
Besides artificially keeping Myers alive, the movie’s other big problem is its startling lack of empathy. Secretly murdered characters go missing for long stretches and no one appears to be either aware of their sudden absences or even care. It isn’t until bodies are discovered long after the fact that they’re mourned at all (albeit briefly because our living heroes are in danger), like Jamie in the Myers family attic.
Speaking of that scene, at one point Myers takes off his mask in a moment where they appear to be bonding. (Really a stalling tactic on the part of Jamie.) It doesn’t last (talk about an underwhelming revelation) because the masked man remembers his only purpose in life and it’s back to the clichéd mayhem.
Is it just me or is it more than a bit distasteful to have the “final girl” be a pre-pubescent child? Yes, a certain important character who Myers fails to kill off comes to her rescue as before but several minutes go by before that even occurs. Meanwhile, she spends a considerable amount of time hiding in a laundry chute. (How she successfully manages to avoid most of his knife thrusts is baffling. It’s a rather confining space.)
Despite getting the best of ol’ Mikey in the end, we are once again robbed of closure. As this series progresses, it won’t be the last time.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, October 8, 2015