31 Days to Scare ~ Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

The Facts:

Synopsis: Ten years after his original massacre, the invalid Michael Myers awakens and returns to Haddonfield to kill his seven-year-old niece on Halloween. Can Dr. Loomis stop him?

Stars: Donald Pleasence, Ellie Cornell, Danielle Harris

Director: Dwight H. Little

Rated: R

Running Length: 88 minutes

TMMM Score: (6/10)

Review: You just can’t keep a bad guy down and it only took seven years and one misguided sequel in name only (Halloween III: Season of the Witch) for Michael Myers to return to the big screen.  Producer Moustapha Akkad was a pretty keen businessman and when the rights to the franchise reverted back to him he didn’t waste time in assembling the pieces that would bring the killer also known as The Shape to fans across the country. 

Forgetting the previous sequel for the stumbling block it was, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers was a tight little horror film that gave fans of the series exactly what they asked for and maybe a little something more.  In 1988, audiences were becoming immune to the endless entries featuring Jason and Freddy but hadn’t yet been satiated on the silent killer wearing a reconfigured William Shatner mask. 

Opening with shots of the sleepy town of Haddonfield IL, there’s a nice atmosphere introduced from frame one.  When John Carpenter’s unforgettably simple theme starts to play, it comes at such a precise moment that you can’t help but get a sliver of a shiver up your spine.  Though we ended Halloween II thinking Myers had perished in a fire along with his psychiatrist (Pleasance), Halloween 4 tweaks history just a tad to keep both figures alive. 

Through a sequence of events that doesn’t stretch credibility as much as one might think, Myers is headed back to his hometown to stir up some more trouble and dispatch anyone that gets in his way.  What he’s after seems to be his niece (Harris), now orphaned after her parents were killed in an auto accident (a picture of Jamie Lee Curtis stands in for the actress).  The niece…named Jamie of course…is out and about trick or treating with her foster sister Rachel (Cornell) when Uncle Mike comes a callin’.

Pleasence is also present, reprising his role as Dr. Loomis who yet again is tasked with bringing down Myers no matter the cost.  Pleasence is an agreeable force in the movie, lending it a nice vibe with his lived in look and musings on the nature of evil.  Though hardly ever speaking above a whisper, he conveys authority with ease…it’s too bad Myers isn’t as easily swayed as we are.

The script is the product of four (four!) writers but what could have been a real mess of styles and themes are rounded out nicely in Alan B. McElroy’s screenplay that explains more about the origins of evil and how it relates to Myers.  In future entries, there would be an almost supernatural element to the power of Myers but here it’s just suggested that evil is something that arrives by nature and not by nurture. 

Director Little moves the pieces of the film around in an orderly fashion with solid but overly workmanlike nature.  Neither Harris nor Cornell have the acting chops to pull the whole thing off without a few hiccups but things could have been much worse in the acting department considering how fast and cheap movies were made then.   

Abandoning the anthology idea that was introduced in Halloween III: Season of the Witch, the homecoming of Myers has a devious little ending that caps off this above average sequel to Halloween.

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