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Monday, October 15, 2012

Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers

      After the failure of the much-hated yet very underrated HALLOWEEN 3: SEASON OF THE WITCH, the powers-that-be knew (or thought they did) that they must bring back Michael to satisfy the hordes of blood-thirsty movie-goers in the late 80's. Which really doesn't make sense, as by then the slasher genre was pretty much dead anyway. APRIL FOOL'S DAY, from 1986, was a clever tongue-in-cheek satire of those hoary slashers of the early 80's, seeming to already know the genre was on its way out. And, by the mid-to-late 80's, the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and HELLRAISER films had ushered in a new dimension of supernatural terror. Jason Voorhees was having a hard enough time keeping up with the changes in horror, so why they felt compelled to resurrect Michael Myers is honestly beyond me.

     Now it was the 10th anniversary of the original so I'll give them that.... but still.  Nothing against Michael Myers- he's my favorite slasher. I can't praise the first two HALLOWEEN films enough. But I truly feel the story had been played out by this point. I've said many times before and I'm saying it again- I feel they should have still forged ahead with the whole HALLOWEEN anthology films after killing off Michael in Part 2, which was the original plan in the first place. Those two films alone would have been a great contribution to the classic slasher genre. But oh no. Nothing pisses me off more than seeing a good horror icon being milked to death until it reaches a point of utter absurdity- it's happened to Dracula, Frankenstein, and countless others. And it happened to Michael Myers when some noodle-head decided it would be cool to bring him back to life.This is when the HALLOWEEN films jumped the shark, in my opinion. Not the third one. This one. HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS starts off promising- the opening credits are quite effective. So good, in fact, that nothing else in the entire film lives up to those first few minutes. A wonderfully sinister atmosphere is established with the credits and the score that really captures the spirit of the season, but don't get your hopes up, kids. All hopes are shattered once the story begins. And it goes a little something like this.

       Michael Myers has been in a coma for the past ten years since terrorizing Haddonfield and Laurie Strode. Myers is being transferred from Ridgemont Federal Sanitarium to good ole' Smiths Grove. Our favorite final girl, Laurie Strode, is what the fuck are you telling me here dead- YES, DEAD!?!.... but her daughter, Jamie Lloyd (played by Danielle Harris), is alive and well and living in Haddonfield. Jamie was adopted by the Carruthers family, and is plagued by nightmares of Michael (?). I don't know either. Suddenly Michael awakens in the ambulance after hearing one of the orderlies talking about his niece, escapes, and immediately sets his sights on little Jamie. Being Halloween night, little Jamie goes out trick-r-treating, unaware that she's now the target of her uncle's rage. Frazzled Dr. Loomis is still around preachin' the gospel, and rushes to Haddonfield once again, foaming at the mouth. The chase is on to protect little Jamie. There are several things I found horribly wrong with all this.

     First off- why in the world would you kill off Laurie Strode? Unforgivable. Blah. Second- Danielle Harris. I'm sure she's a lovely lady and actress, and this is nothing personal against her earlier, but her character really grated on my nerves. I tried to accept it all, and just couldn't. It was difficult for me to accept this shrieking little girl as Jamie Lee's replacement. Third- the mask is just not the same. Like, at all. It just looks too silly to me to take seriously. This is not the terrifying Michael Myers of my youth who haunted my dreams. He's just not scary this go 'round. Michael has no neck in this installment, and seems to be sporting some Joan Crawford-worthy shoulder pads here. The finished effect is just goofy looking, sorry not sorry. Fourth- the characters are not one bit likable. At all. I was furious a mere 30 minutes into this movie, and wanted them all dead immediately.

     And what is up with the current residents of Haddonfield?  You would think after the events of the first two films, that it wouldn't take an act of Congress to get them the least bit concerned about the return of the masked killer. It seems to take practically the entire movie to convince them they are in any sort of danger. Snore. Fifth- does nobody remember the ending of HALLOWEEN 2?  Laurie shot out Michael's eyes, right before Dr. Loomis blows the hospital up, remember? I suppose I should find some solace in the fact that the awesome Donald Pleasance returned for this dreck, but I couldn't help but feel slightly embarrassed for him the entire time.

     Now I'm completely in the minority here, and perfectly willing to accept that.I used to think I was the only one who loved HALLOWEEN 3, but the film is a bona fide cult classic today. I still find the third film to have far more creativity and actual intelligence involved- whereas this one is just re-hashing somebody else's original ideas to capitalize on the 10th anniversary of the first film. HALLOWEEN fans vehemently love and defend this sequel- and that's fine.  But it's just not HALLOWEEN to me. The absence of John Carpenter, Debra Hill, and Jamie Lee Curtis is glaringly obvious, and probably is a large part of my dislike for this movie. And this is just NOT Michael Myers either- it's somebody pretending to be him, and badly at that. He is about as scary as Richard Simmons, honestly.  And what's up with the hair on this mask?  In some scenes he resembles a manic Neil Diamond.

     If it were me, I would have celebrated the 10 year anniversary of the original HALLOWEEN simply by re-releasing the first two films in theaters to show audiences what started the slasher craze in the first place. HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS just does not bring anything new to the table.  It's not a terrible film.  It's not a glaring disappointment.  It's greatest crime is that it's boring.  Slashers were pretty much dead by 1988, and by that time of the decade, most were pale imitations of HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13TH anyway.  So.... I don't really see the point of this. Oh well. If you have never experienced a HALLOWEEN film or the terror of Michael Myers, I suggest picking up the first two sequels and leaving it at that. The intentions of this film were good, but the finished product just doesn't do Carpenter or Curtis justice. Maybe it was just a product of its time. Maybe I was somewhat jaded as a wee junior in high school.  Maybe it was Maybelline. Or maybe it should have never been made at all. Because all it really accomplished was opening the door for even more mindless and ridiculous sequels. I don't hate this film. But I don't understand the love for it either. I'll give it one more try, and maybe I can find something in there I missed.

P.S.- the original movie poster is pretty awesome, I will give it that!


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