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Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) Review

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Halloween 5 The Revenge of Michael Myers

Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1]
Cast:
Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis
Danielle Harris as Jamie Lloyd
Ellie Cornell as Rachel Carruthers
Beau Starr as Sheriff Ben Meeker
Wendy Kaplan as Tina Williams
Tamara Glynn as Samantha Thomas
Director: Dominique Othenin-Girard

After lying in a coma for a year, Michael Myers (Donald L. Shanks) awakens and stalks his way back to his small hometown in Illinois, intent on killing his niece, Jamie (Danielle Harris), who has been confined to a mental institution since Michael’s last attempt to slay her. Suspecting a psychic link between Michael and Jamie, psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) joins forces with Sheriff Ben Meeker (Beau Starr) and attempts to stop Michael’s latest rampage.

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I was continuing the Halloween movie series, and I arrived onto the 5th movie, with the hard to take seriously title of The Revenge of Michael Myers. Halloween 4 wasn’t that good, but the ending was solid and had a possibility for the where the next movie could spring off from Unfortunately the follow up doesn’t take advantage of that, and on top of that, the movie on the whole ends up being bad by itself.

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The most interesting aspect of Halloween 4 was the ending. Halloween 5 doesn’t forget that ending, but they followed on from it in quite possibly the worst way possible. First of all, the film opens with a retcon of part of 4’s climax. The opening shows the moment in the previous movie where Michael Myers supposedly dies (again) in the graveyard, and shows him escaping by floating down a stream and being taken in by a hermit with a parrot, then there’s a time jump and then Myers gets up and decides to kill again. So that’s strange enough, but that’s not all. 5 flat out retcons the very end of the last moments of 4. As a reminder, 4 had the ending of Jaime finally snapping, and killing her stepmother in the same way that a young Michael Myers killed his sister. It was a good point to end the movie on, but they changed story direction here. It is worth noting that Donald Pleasence was also disappointed with this change in direction, wanting the character of Jaime to be portrayed as “all evil”. That would’ve been an interesting and fresh direction to take the story, even if the idea of Jamie being Michael’s sidekick seems strange, it would’ve been much better than whatever they chose to go for. In the revised events, the stepmother didn’t die, and Jaime just attacked her, she didn’t try to kill her. Jaime is also now in a children’s hospital, not a mental institute and is in a bad state. Loomis also no longer wants to kill Jamie like he tried to at the end of the 4th film, but is instead her doctor and is convinced that the ‘attack’ happened because Michael Myers made her do it through a psychic connection. Yes, it’s bizarre and the worst part is that he ends up being right and there’s not explanation for how he figured it out. Right out the gate with this opening section it doesn’t bold well for the movie. So all the potential is pretty much gone.

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Retconning aside, 5 ends up being a worse version of 4, and is beyond a generic slasher film. Apparently the filmmakers didn’t have a finished script when they began filming and it really shows here. The atmosphere and tension is practically non existent. 4 had its issues and wasn’t good in those areas but in 5, most of the time all the attempts at horror fall flat. There’s really only one moment that’s actually really good but that’s it. The pacing is off, and the characters range from being dull to being annoying. In fact, there’s a big chunk of it focused on some annoying characters. Imagine some of the characters in a slasher movie that fake scare each other, and then eventually gets killed. Then imagine that they have twice the amount of screentime that they would normally have. That’s what happens here, and it can be really frustrating to sit through. There’s even a couple of dumb cop characters thrown in for some bad comic relief, and there’s even a little comical theme music that plays for them when they are on screen. Something worth noting is that 5 introduces ideas about what is happening with Michael Myers, and try to give some sort of an explanation for him and why he’s killing. Now I’m not opposed to the series trying new things, it’s just that these new things that they are attempting don’t work out at all. The movie also introduces hints of what would happen in the next movie and try to add something to the Myer’s Mythos, with a mystery man dressed in black with a thorn symbol tattoo. This mystery man appears every so often throughout the movie with no explanation and even by the end of the movie he’s not given any explanation. What’s worse is that the writers genuinely didn’t know who this person was, they just added him as a potential thing to follow up on the sequel. When it gets to its cliffhanger ending, you realise what Halloween 5 really was, not a sequel but rather a 90 minute long trailer for Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers.

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Danielle Harris and Donald Pleasence were among the better parts of the 4th movie, they are still good here but even they have some problems here. Danielle Harris returns as Jamie Lloyd, and in a large portion of the movie she’s basically been reduced to a mute that go into convulsions every so often when that psychic connection plays up again. Credit to Harris, she’s putting everything into her performance here, and she does especially well at seeming scared, especially in the third act. Donald Pleasence returns as Dr Loomis and he’s good as always, however the writing of his character is a bit weird to say the least. I get that by this point he would’ve lost his mind a bit, but some of his actions (especially in the third act) are out of character. Loomis is comically crazy like a raving madman for much of the movie, and I’m surprised that he didn’t end up as some surprise villain by the end of the movie. There’s nothing really to say about the rest of the cast and characters except that they are either forgettable or obnoxious.

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The direction by Dominique Othenin-Girard is not very good. In fairness some of the shots and the blocking is good, but most of the direction with regard to horror and scares falls flat. The kill scenes are just fine, but there’s nothing really memorable and as previously said the tension and atmosphere is practically non-existent. In all fairness to the movie, there actually is one sequence with Jamie in the third act which does actually work quite well, involving a laundry chute. That part stands out to me and was definitely a highlight. The Michael Myers mask in the 5th movie somehow looks worse than the one in Halloween 4. Instead of looking cheap it looks quite dumb, it is barely ever tucked in, and it looks constantly stretched so it barely fits the actor’s head. The movie already has problems with being tense or scary but Michael Myers looking quite silly with that mask doesn’t help matters. The score is just there, it just uses the typical iconic theme from the series at points but it doesn’t actually build any suspense. In fact there are some sequences where the score playing is bad and takes away from those scenes.

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Halloween 5: The Return of Michael Myers is likely one of the worst movies of the Halloween series. Despite some good performances from Harris and Pleasence as well as one good scene, it’s just not good. On top of squandering the potential that was practically gift wrapped to them, its just generally a worse version of the 4th movie. Despite some of my issues with 4, this is where the series is first taking a big sink for me, and it’s showing that this current storyline that started with 4 is not going to get any better.

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.