Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

The Return of Michael Myers 1988 Review Halloween 4

Tagline: Horror has returned to Haddonfield.

Director: Dwight H. Little

Writers: Dhani Lipsius (story), Larry Ratner (story), Benjamin Ruffner (story), Alan B. McElroy (screenplay)

Starring: Donald Pleasence, Ellie Cornell, Danielle Harris, George P. Wilbur, Michael Pataki, Beau Starr, Katheleen Kinmont, Sasha Jenson, Gene Ross, Carmen Filpi

18 | 1hr 28min | Horror

Budget: $5,000,000


Review

After a seven year hiatus, Michael Myers is back – or ten years as the plot of this instalment would have you believe.

In 1982 the scourge of Haddonfield was put on the shelf in favour of Halloween III: Season of the Witch. The plan was to release a new film every year under the guise of the original franchise. Each movie would have a new story and cast of characters, allowing arguably the most iconic killer in horror history to slip into obscurity and retire with the kind of dignity Carpenter’s baby deserved. But money talks and evil walks, so it was only inevitable that our killer’s corpse would be dredged from the dark swamps of legend, dragging the cash-strapped Donald Pleasence along with him. 

The Return of Michael Myers 1988 Review Halloween 4

Donald’s trust in movie producers would diminish dramatically.

Halloween 4 is a mixed bag, a confused production which was perhaps a victim of the times. It is not not a terrible movie, and as far as he is able the director stays true to Carpenter’s vision. Retaining the grainy quality which made the original so hypnotic, his steady capture of everyday suburbia would effectively set the scene. He also retains iconic staples such as a subtly tweaked rendition of Carpenter’s original score. Little had clearly studied the source material, developing an appreciation for what separated the original from its sleazy Friday the 13th imitators.  

By this point however, the ‘Friday’ franchise had been smart enough to reinvent itself, its tongue-in-cheek meta humour proving a financial success in an era when graphic violence had become a no-no in horror movie circles. Perhaps at the behest of those in charge, Halloween 4 quickly lays waste to its fine early work by descending into a Voorhees-style massacre, one which plunders on without even a hint of the self-referential. Like Jason before him, Myers is transformed from the nigh-on-impossible to the downright unbelievable – and to the movie’s detriment.

The Return of Michael Myers 1988 Review Halloween 4

That should do it!

No longer does our ethereal psychopath cling to the shadows, the menace of his omnipresence lurking in our imagination. Instead we spend an inordinate amount of time staring at his bumbling frame, the gaunt inhumanity of his original mask replaced with something akin to a cute smile. All of this serves to cheapen the character, and the thespian skills of Pleasence border on parody amidst such a shallow formula.

The plot itself is as thin as any slash-and-scream fodder. In a rather remarkable stroke of coincidence the authorities have scheduled a patient transfer ten years to the day from the original Haddonfield massacre, a fact which the senselessly unrestrained Myers takes full advantage of. After laying waste to an unnecessary amount of bystanders, Michael then goes in pursuit of his niece Jamie (Harris) a child he has never met and who he presumably has no knowledge of – unless someone in the nest of his deep seclusion had taken the ill-judged step of informing him. 

The Return of Michael Myers 1988 Review Halloween 4

Isn’t he sweet!

Similarly, Jamie is plagued by dreams of a man she has never met, and a familial reunion seems inevitable. A bullied orphan, the girl is marred by the stigma of her boogeyman uncle, and thanks to a series of lazy contrivances she and her adopted sister Rachel (Cornell) are left at the demon’s mercy. By now healthcare corporate are sick and tired of Dr Loomis (Pleasence) and his frantic Shakespearean ravings, but the monster’s nemesis is soon on the case, flanked by a band of vigilantes beset on disposing of the town’s inhuman curse forever.

The best of luck to you, fellers! You’re going to need it.



Best Kill

After somehow boarding a speeding pick-up truck unnoticed, Myers decimates an entire clan of beer-bellied locals before reaching into the vehicle and tearing out the unsuspecting driver’s throat, taking the movie’s body count into the mid 20’s.

Most Absurd Moment

Fleeing to the attic with Jamie, a terrified Rachel attempts to stop our deranged killer in his tracks, blocking the stairway with a bunch of empty cardboard boxes. If the cast of the original film had been so resourceful, perhaps all of this carnage could have been avoided!

Most Absurd Dialogue

Coming to the aid of jilted love interest Rachel, cheating douchebag Brady (Jenson) takes a moment to clear up matters.

Brady: ‘What’s going on?’

Rachel: (comforting Jamie) ‘Michael Myers!’

Brady: ‘Who?!’

Forget it, dipshit!


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rtape rtape rtape btape btape

A sour brew of studio bastardisation, Halloween 4 is the brainchild of lousy corporate parenting. Left to his own devices, director Little might have contributed something worthy of the original’s legacy, but the movie’s inability to mesh the Myers ethos with the smash-mouth formula of its most famous imitator proves devastating to the franchise.

Cedric Smarts




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2 responses to “Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

  1. Great review!I enjoyed this one despite its many faults.It is nowhere near as good as the first three but I have a fondness for the Halloween franchise and I would watch this again!!

    Like

  2. Hi, Amanda.

    Good to hear from you.

    Friday the 13th would cleverly reinvent itself as meta-humour following A New Beginning, turning Jason into the Roger Moore of the slasher genre as a way to sidestep the MPAA’s censoring onslaught.

    Myers would go the same way here. Producers really had no choice if they were to salvage their marquee attraction and keep the lolly rolling in. It’s ironic that the franchise would be forced to imitate the same ‘Friday’ series which had used the original Halloween as its template.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the review.

    Thanks for reading!

    Like

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