Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) Review

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Halloween 4 The Return of Michael Myers

Time: 88 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis
Ellie Cornell as Rachel Carruthers
Danielle Harris as Jamie Lloyd
Michael Pataki as Dr. Hoffman
Director: Dwight H. Little

The apparently comatose Michael Myers (George P. Wilbur) is being transferred from one hospital to another, but he wakes up when the ambulance crew talk about his surviving niece, Jamie (Danielle Harris). After slaughtering his attendants, Myers sets out to find his one living relative who is, fortunately, being cared for by a kind and resourceful foster sister named Rachel (Ellie Cornell). Meanwhile, the ever-cautious Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) remains on the killer’s path.

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Halloween 3: Season of the Witch tried to steer the series in a different direction from the previous two movies, and aimed to be the start of an anthology series without Michael Myers. Given the negative response that the movie received however, it was pretty clear that audiences wanted the series to bring back Michael Myers, and the filmmakers gave them what they wanted. For the next movies, it followed on from Halloween 2 with its own direction. I heard some mixed things about just about all of the sequels. I watched 4 and generally it was pretty average as a movie, but it was overall alright.

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Laurie Strode from the original films is written off as being dead, which certainly was a questionable way of writing her out of the story. This time the main character who is being hunted down by Michael Myers is Laurie’s 7 year old daughter Jamie. This gives a very different dynamic between protagonist and Myers, as Jamie is way more vulnerable. The plot is a bit contrived, plodding and weak, with mostly boring characters that we are stuck with. Most of the plot doesn’t feel fresh at all, almost like it’s the most basic follow up one could think of for Halloween 2. The suspense and atmosphere from the previous 3 movies are practically non existence, even if the film tries to re-capture that. They reference the explosion at the end of Halloween 2 but don’t really explain how Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis managed to survive that. There were some potential with the new direction of the story, like it was somewhat different to see how the town reacts to Myers being back. There’s also some pretty silly parts to this movie, which at least made it somewhat entertaining. There is this hillbilly mob trying to hunt down Michael Myers, and the dialogue at many points are very goofy. I guess credit where credit is due, the police are slightly more competent, which was refreshing to seen in a Halloween movie. When Loomis comes to them when Myers escapes, they actually listen to what he says. So I guess that’s at least one aspect that the movie subverted. Most of the time thought the plot and scares are predictable. The third act for the most part is pretty underwhelming, especially with the climax. With that being said, the ending is great and one of the best parts of the movie, leaving the series open to take a different direction with the sequels from this point onwards.

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The character of Jamie Lloyd is played by Danielle Harris and she’s actually great on her part. She’s not Laurie from the original, but Harris is quite convincing, especially in the chase and intense scenes. Donald Pleasence returns as Dr. Sam Loomis, and like his past two film appearances is one of the best parts of the movie, I’m glad his character survived along with Myers. The movie (and the sequels he appears in I assume) would’ve been worse without him. It’s 10 years later, Loomis is battle scarred, a little unstable and just looks so done, especially when he finds that Michael Myers has escaped yet again. Ellie Cornell also plays Rachel, Jamie’s step-sister, and she was also pretty good in her part. One note about the physical acting of Michael Myers, he does have a bad mask however he also just doesn’t feel the same as the Myers from the from the first movie or even the second movie. From the smaller stature and awkward movements, he feels like someone wearing a Michael Myers costume rather than being him. He’s just not intimidating at all.

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The direction from Dwight H. Little is pretty bland, while I wouldn’t quite call it bad, it rather feels like it’s on autopilot. The opening credits actually work quite well, it doesn’t attempt to copy the opening credit sequences from the first two movies with the jack o lantern, and didn’t feature the opening theme. With its simple yet effective shots, it is effectively atmospheric and eerie. The cinematography is unremarkable, although the close up shots does make it stand out from the previous movies. The kills can be gloriously over the top and ludicrous (especially one instance involving a shotgun), but most of the time they are unfortunately rather bland. As previously said, the new mask on Michael Myers looks really bad, and the whole costume in fact looks really bad. What’s worse is that the costume he picked up in the original Halloween movie was just whatever he could find, for whatever reason in 4 he looks for that exact same costume. Early in the movie Myers is wearing bandages and I kind of wish that they stuck with that, even just for it being a different look for him. The chase sequences are rather bland and drawn out, and aren’t really suspenseful, though there was a scene on a rooftop that sort of works. Even the sound effects are pretty weak and cartoonish, particularly the sounds for the gunshots. The score contains similar themes from the original Halloween, although it doesn’t really add much to the suspense, almost like its an obligation or something.

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Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is really a mixed bag. It’s very bland from the story to the direction, and the tension and atmosphere doesn’t work. With that said, there are some moments which are decent, the performances from Harris and Pleasance are solid, and it’s got a great ending. It’s an average slasher flick but if you’re curious enough, check it out for yourself.

2 thoughts on “Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) Review

  1. Pingback: Halloween Movies Ranked | The Cinema Critic

  2. BM

    I suppose after the rather pointed failure of Halloween III, something like this – coming at the end of the 80s and in the wake of many lucrative Friday the 13th sequels (as well as Nightmare on Elm Street sequels) – was unsurprising. An attempt to “right the ship”, so to speak, and return the brand to being a money maker. I did find the ending intriguing, unfortunate that Halloween V failed to capitalize on it. The Myers mask in this one was awful, I’ve seen better ones at the local department stores during the month of October. I did like the opening credits, they were pretty atmospheric and eerie, and I really enjoyed Donald Pleasance in this one (the hitchiking sequence with the old man was terrific). I didn’t outright dislike this entry, but I didn’t truly like it either. I guess I nothing’d it.

    Reply

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