Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

Since John Carpenter’s idea of releasing a non-Michael Myers Halloween film every October crashed and burned spectacularly, the powers that be decided to bring back the immortal maniac once again for another night of murder and mayhem. With no support from Carpenter, producer Moustapha Akkad had free reign to do whatever he wanted with the characters he now owned.

Taking place 10 years after the original film Michael wakes up from a coma to discover his sister has died, but left behind a daughter. He sets out to murder his niece Jamie (Danielle Harris) who has been taken in by a foster family in his hometown. Once the mentally and physically scarred Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) learns of Michael’s escape he tracks him down to hopefully stop him once and for all.
Sure it’s a rehash of the other films in the series, but it’s a very well made rehash. Director Dwight Little has quite an eye and a talent for building up suspense so thick you can cut it with a knife (pun intended). His casting decisions were fantastic, and by getting little Danielle Harris to play Michael’s new quarry, Jamie, he found a way to keep the audience drawn into the plight of this tortured child instead of leaving it solely in the hands of the equally fantastic Donald Pleasence. The rest of the cast is decent, with Ellie Cornell playing Jamie’s teenage foster sister Rachel as if she’s the slasher world’s Ellen Ripley; starting off mildly self-centered and bitchy, but when the shit hits the fan takes matters into her own hands to keep her and her foster sister safe no matter what.

The kills are nothing to write home about, but I’m glad to say that they’re not of the splatter variety from the second film. Sure we get a thumb thrust into some poor paramedic’s forehead and some redneck vigilante’s cheek ripped open, but 75% of the kills are off screen or take place in the dark to heighten their impact. Some are completely ridiculous, like the slut who gets impaled and stuck to a door 3 feet above the ground by a shotgun, but it’s all in the name of the genre.
The finale is a bit on the lackluster side since it’s a more amped up version of the finale from the original. If Michael can shrug off being shot six times by a revolver as well as surviving being blown up and burnt alive, what makes the cops think that shotguns would do any better? It’s kind of lame, but the coda is what makes this movie for me, coming full circle and harkening back to the source material in a classy and frightening way. As far as I was concerned they could have ended the series here and I would have been fine with it.

Unfortunately they didn’t.

3.5 out of 5

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