Following her mysterious behavior at the conclusion of Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers, young Jaime (Danielle Harris) is committed to the psychiatric care of Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance). Meanwhile, Michael Myers is presumed dead following a shoot-out with the Haddonfield Police and a fatal fall down a mineshaft entrance. But all is not as it seems. A well-meaning derelict nurses Michael back to health, and one year later he is back to kill again! Jamie finds herself the object of Michael’s murderous rage, and along with new friends and Dr. Loomis, she tries to prevent Michael from continuing his bloody rampage.
However, there is a new visitor in town – a man dressed in black who quietly walks the streets with an unknown but sinister purpose. Why is he here? What is his connection to Michael? By the end of Halloween 5: The Revenge Of Michael Myers, many will be dead – you will be screaming!
eyelights: Ellie Cornell.
eyesores: the script. the cheap scares.
“You’re afraid the whole thing might start to happen again. There’s nothing wrong with being afraid.”
Given the success of ‘Halloween 4‘, producer Moustapha Akkad wanted to strike while the iron was hot. The picture was still in cinemas when he decided to get work started on the next installment, so that it could be out by October of 1989. Subtitled “The Revenge of Michael Myers”, it continued where the last one left off – just like ‘Halloween II’ did with ‘Halloween’.
However, Akkad decided to change the game plan. Although it seemed clear to just about everyone that Jamie had become the bearer of Michael’s evil, Akkad decided to nix that idea. Instead, he felt that Michael was what audiences wanted and he had the script rewritten – despite the disagreements and disappointments of stars Donald Pleasance and Danielle Harris.
For this picture, Michael is seen escaping the police onslaught of ‘Halloween 4’ and taking refuge in an old hermit’s shack for a year. Meanwhile, Jamie is confined to a children’s hospital, traumatized by the events of the previous film and rendered mute. There is no indication that the attack on her adoptive mom (who apparently survived) had any legal repercussions.
Naturally, being a year later, it’s Hallowe’en again, and suddenly Michael’s rage boils up to the surface – leading him to kill the hermit who has lodged him the whole time. Now his intention is to return to Haddonfield to finally kill Jamie. Of course, Dr. Loomis is in the picture, having kept tabs on Jamie this whole year, and he knows that Michael remains a threat.
With the help of the police, he tries to track down Michael, all the while attempting to coax Jamie into giving him clues to the killer’s whereabouts. You see, Jamie is now telepathically linked to Michael, and senses when the monster is about to strike down someone she knows and cares about. This causes her to go into violent fits that require heavy sedation.
‘Halloween 5’ attempts to develop the mythology of Michael Myers via his interactions with Jamie and Dr. Loomis – by cementing his family bonds and by explaining his path of destruction as a rage that he could potentially control. In some ways, the picture is trying to transform him into Darth Vader, adding a touch of the supernatural to grow the enigma of Michael Myers.
Strangely, Michael suddenly has a tattoo on the inside of his wrist representing the Old English letter Thorn. Who knows where it came from but it’s there now. Not only that, but a mysterious man in black has bused into town and he has the same symbol on his own wrist. This stranger stays in the shadows and never plays a significant role, but he’s likely going to in future films.
It’s not especially inspired stuff, and one wonders if creating a mythology for Michael Myers is a good thing in the first place, because it tends to humanize him and/or to create a more complex character. Problem is that things are often scary because they’re inexplicable: when you can’t figure out why it’s a threat, like the shark in ‘Jaws’, it’s much more threatening.
The moment you lift the veil, as interesting as what you find might be, fear dissipates.
Still, as hackneyed as this attempt to mythologize Myers may be, the thing that really skewers the picture is that it focuses the rest of its attention on the mundane pursuits of a few teenagers – none of whom are particularly appealing or interesting, and whose only concern is going to the Tower Farm Hallowe’en party that evening. And getting drunk. And laid.
Let’s be honest: their sole reason to exist is as sheaths for Michael’s knife. So why waste any time on them? Well, while it would be easy to blame the screenwriter, it could very well be the producer’s fault: Akkad had a lot of control on the film. But it’s clear that both the screenwriter and the director weren’t up to snuff, as evidenced by the following nuggets:
- Firstly, there’s the weak dialogues and crappy expository pieces. This is typical of horror fare, mind you.
- Tina calls out to her boyfriend, Michael, a real jerk-off who cares only about his looks and his car, who’s speeding by two blocks away. Somehow, he hears her over his car’s engine, beyond the distance and comes for her. How is that even possible?
- Jamie participates in a Hallowe’en costume contest at her hospital. Lame. Like we care. Even worse is that she has a fit and sees Tina in danger. So Dr. Loomis (who obviously would be there… makes total sense!) sends for the cops – and they arrive to save Tina right away, as though they were around the corner. As if.
- Tina didn’t go to the Tower farm party with her bf, but when she gets there she doesn’t even ask about him. It’s like he doesn’t exist. Instead, she and her friends play moronic pranks on the bumbling cops and on each other – risking their lives in the process.
- Dr. Loomis confronts Michael at the farm, but decides to goad him into meeting at the Myers’ house instead of duking it out right there and then. And then somehow he manages to get there before Michael. How does any of this make sense?
None of the cast is especially good here, which may denounce just how uninspiring their characters are. Even Danielle Harris, who was so good in ‘Halloween 4’, spoils much of her on-screen time pretending to be incapacitated in one form or another – and not especially well. Ellie Cornell is watchable, but she has such a limited role here that it doesn’t matter.
As for Donald Pleasance as Dr. Loomis, well, perhaps he knew that this was a cheap horror film and decided to turn in an appropriately cheesy performance, but he got progressively worse as the series hobbled along. Here he’s spewing nonsensical tripe at the top of his lungs, essentially harassing if not stalking (and likely traumatising) Jamie. Loomis is less and less credible.
As is Michael.
In this picture, Michael spends an inordinate amount of time not killing his intended targets, either wandering around the house and waiting hours to strike, picking up a victim in a car he stole and driving her around, or even chasing people in that same car but never catching them – the reverse problem of when he’s on foot, inexplicably catching up to people who are running away.
Why doesn’t he just go for the kill? Why? It feels as though the filmmakers had no idea how to create suspense and sustain it, so they just milked Michael’s presence beyond reason. At least in the original, when Michael was killing time it was because he was assessing the situation. But when it came time to strike he wasn’t to be meddled with. But this is no longer Carpenter’s creation.
Instead we’re treated to cheap scares, such as Jamie having nightmares of Michael attacking her, rocks thrown through a window (with the written threats attached to it leading nowhere), bushes moving, …etc. The picture wholly depends on Alan Howarth’s motion picture score for its scares – which, sadly, departs from the classic “stalking” theme so integral to building up tension.
And it gives us a goofy theme to highlight the incompetence of a pair of bumbling cops. Yes, bumbling cops. Sigh. Heck, all the cops are maroons here, with proof positive coming at the very end, when Loomis sets up a guetapens for Michael at the Myers’ house (which is now a mansion that looks nothing like original) and all the cops leave on what is an obvious false lead.
It’s one contrivance after the next, which takes away from the picture’s credibility and, thus, makes it less scary. If you can’t believe that the danger is real, you can’t be afraid – and that’s the problem of most horror films. Some people want visceral thrills, but I contend that anyone can deliver that. Creating an atmosphere and scaring the crap out of people requires skill.
And ‘Halloween 5’ shows no sign of either: it’s a paint-by-numbers slasher film that has no depth or intelligence. It tries to expand on the characters and themes of the original, but in the process has forgotten all the lessons taught by John Carpenter in its making – the very lessons that nourished the horror genre for a decade. By this point, the series had become a caricature.
It was a shadow of its former self.
Date of viewing: August 16, 2015