Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Meyers (1988)
HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MEYERS
WRITERS: Story by Dhani Lipsius & Larry Rattner & Benjamin Ruffner and Alan B. McElroy
DIRECTOR: Alan B. McElroy
STARRING: Donald Pleasence as Dr. Loomis
Ellie Cornell as Rachel Carruthers
Danielle Harris as Jamie Lloyd
Michael Pataki as Dr. Hoffman
Beau Starr as Sheriff Meeker
Kathleen Kinmont as Kelly
Sasha Jenson as Brady
QUICK CUT: After ten years in a coma, a man wakes up and is reunited with his family on Halloween.
Jamie - A little girl, Michael's niece, and your average kid. She's haunted by what her family has done, and has had done to them. Both mentally and by the actual acts, and by the kids in town knowing who she is and tormenting her.
Rachel - Jamie's foster sister, and your average teenager. She has her own problems, and can only be reluctantly talked into taking care of Jamie.
Dr. Loomis - The Ahab to Michael's white whale. He's just as determined as ever, and nothing will stop him.
Michael Meyers - The unstoppable force, with not even ten years in a vegetative state have slowed him down.
THE GUTS: Happy Octoberween, Triskelions! And since it's October 1st, you know what that means...it's either time to review more movies titled Night of the Demons, or it must be time for me to return to the Halloween franchise. Fortunately, it's the latter. And I am not the only one returning, since Halloween 4, after the wrongly maligned Halloween 3 was a completely unrelated movie, Michael Meyers also returns home again. Does he make a triumphant return as the conquering hero, or is it another bomb?
The Return of Michael Meyers kicks off on a dark and stormy night, as all good horror stories do. A certain patient is being transferred from one hospital to Smith's Grove, and if you had yet to guess he is Michael Meyers, then when Doctor Six-Times Loomis shows up later, you better.
So uh...they both survived that fiery explosion, then? Are we...gonna explain how that happened or...no? No, we're just gonna move forward. At least a security guard gives a handy recap of the first two movies for those of us just joining in. And at least they did a good job with some burn scars on Loomis.
As the amberlamps drives away with the comatose for ten years Michael, someone mentions his living relatives, a niece back in Haddonfield. And this triggers something in Michael as he clenches his fist...and then slaughters everyone in the vehicle and escapes.
Speaking of the niece, we then cut to her, staring out into the storm, late at night, unable to sleep. She must sense a disturbance in the Force. And hey, it's Danielle Harris, long-time horror movie icon! Which is no surprise, because everyone knows she got her start here.
Her foster sister Rachel comes downstairs and comforts the girl, and they both get back to bed before the boogeyman comes to town.
And in case there was any ambiguity, Jamie goes upstairs and digs through a shoe box full of mementos, including a picture of her mom, Laurie.
While Jamie tries to get some sleep, she keeps hearing noises, and we keep seeing flashes of Michael, and did he get there REALLY fast, or...? Nope! IT WAS ALL A DREAM...but an acceptable one, in this instance.
The next day, the babysitter has to cancel, and Rachel is forced to take Jamie out trick or treating. Meanwhile, Loomis is updated on his patient, and he naturally has concerns about him being sent back to the place he escaped from a decade ago. They hear about the crashed ambulance, and the general assumption is that it went off the road thanks to the storms. Loomis is...less sure of that.
Everyone's just brushing it all aside. They went off the road in the storm! They died in the crash! We can't find Michael's body because it was thrown down the river! We can't shut down the beaches on a vacation weekend just because of sharks!
I am also amused that they point out Michael's muscles should be atrophied from laying in a coma for ten years...BUT THEN NEVER EXPLAIN WHY THEY'RE NOT.
We cut to a local mechanic, where Mikey has wandered off to, so he can get a guy to come out and fix the ambluahaaaahahahaa. No, he wants to kill the guy and take his overalls. Does this guy have an overall tracking sense or what?
Loomis pulls up to get some gas, and it just so happens to be the same garage. This feels coincidental, but let me tell ya, living in the middle of nowhere, if you and your friends are both going from the same point a to the same point b, in this case the crash site to Haddonfield, you're gonna pass the same lonely gas station in the middle of nowhere. I have zero problems with this.
Doctor Six-Times discovers there's no one there, and runs into Michael. They have a staring contest, and he shoots him a few more times. It's a good way to confirm for the doctor that Michael is out there, gives us some tension, and horror to look forward to. But Michael also pulls a disappearing act right in front of Loomis, so it does leave the question of if its all in his mind or not.
But in case you were wondering, Michael is real, and he steals a tow truck to get away, and in the process, crashes into a gas pump, causing explosions and fires and even takes out an electrical line or three. The man is an engine of chaos, that's for sure.
We next get treated to Jamie being tortured by the kids at school because her parents are dead and her uncle is literally the local legend used to scare children.
Rachel picks up Jamie and they head to the drug store to get Jamie a costume, and so Rachel can break the bad news about their date being cancelled to her boyfriend.
Jamie finds a clown costume, and since that's a callback to Michael's first murdersuit, it makes me wonder just how cursed this family is with bad destiny.
While she tries on the costume, her reflection changes into young Michael's, but it gets so much worse than that, when the grown up version appears behind her. She screams, breaks a mirror, and he disappears before Rachel shows up. Naturally, she's not believing the story, since this happens a lot.
Loomis meanwhile is limping his way down the highway trying to get a ride after his car got blowed up. A helpful car full of cheerleaders stops to give him a ride, but just before he limps his way into the car, it drives off with the kids laughing. Ha ha ha, taunting an old, injured man is funny!
Fortunately, a priest does stop and does the Christian thing, giving Loomis a ride. And the scene plays out as the priest talks about his own quest, hunting damnation, and the parallels between the two, and the cautionary tale, is a lot of fun.
Night falls, Jamie gets into her costume, and they head out trick or treating. While they're out, Mikey sneaks in and rifles through Jamie's box o' stuff, and finds the old family photos.
Loomis makes his way to the police station, finds his old friend the sheriff has retired because after the Halloween of 1978 he was like nope, no, no no, nope, I'm done. The new sheriff in town doesn't believe his story either, for all the obvious reasons. But he's willing to give Loomis a chance, because he'd rather be unsure and avoid another massacre, instead of just ignore things completely.
While the cops get word out to get everyone off the streets, and for businesses to shut down, Loomis and the sheriff arrive at Jamie's house, and find it empty since everyone is out. They leave a deputy behind and continue their search, after finding Michael's calling card of a dead puppy.
Michael shows up at a nearby transformer station, and kills the city worker checking the place out. He then uses the guy's body as a handy means to take out power for much of the town.
But back with the trick or treaters, Rachel has completely lost Jamie when she was distracted for a minute. Oh, good job. But after both of them jump at shadows and noises in the dark, they find each other just in time for Loomis and the sheriff to drive up.
Then Michael steps out of the shadows, and Loomis is shaken. It gets worse when another Michael appears. And another. When they pull guns on all the Michaels, the kids all whip their masks off and scatter. I love the idea of this local monster, this bit of folklore, has become part of their Halloween traditions. This is absolutely the sort of costume kids would wear.
With Jamie and Rachel in tow, the sheriff tries to contact the station, and gets no answer. They hurry back and find the place absolutely trashed and everyone dead.
As they leave the station, the owner of the local bar and his drunken patrons all ride up,. They were curious why the cops are demanding all businesses close for the night, and when they couldn't get an answer, they all rushed to the station to see what was wrong.
Loomis outright tells them, it was Michael Meyers, and he gets them fired up, especially since they all remember what happened ten years ago. The sheriff isn't happy about it, but Loomis knows they'll serve as a replacement for the destroyed police force, and is better than nothing.
The deputy they left behind at Jamie's house hears about the massacre, and they all decide to regroup at the sheriff's house, so they can defend the kids from there. Little does the deputy know, he has Michael chilling in his backseat, and will take him straight to his target.
Everyone arrives at the sheriff's house, and they start barricading everything they can, and arming up from the sheriff's own personal armory. Fortunately, the sheriff's daughter and Rachel's boyfriend are both there, so there's more vict...more people to fight back. But all the barricading and weapons won't do any good, because the killings are coming from inside the house!
The movie does hit a bit of a lull at this point, but there's a decent enough sense of dread, as you KNOW Michael is there, just waiting, so it's just a matter of time... If you're going to have a slow point, at least have that threat nearby, and of course everyone on screen thinks they're safe and calming down too.
And that tension is finally released, when Kelly starts bringing some coffee around to keep everyone going, and discovers the deputy is dead. Oh, and Michael's also right there and kills her with his shotgun...by stabbing her through the gut with the barrel and pinning her to the wall. That...that's not how you use that, Mikey.
Rachel is the next to discover the bodies, Brady tries to use his own shotgun to shoot the lock off the door, and they can escape, but it's reinforced, leaving everyone trapped in the house with the killer. Talk about being hoisted by your petard.
They run upstairs to try and protect themselves, as Michael stalks up the stairway towards them. Brady stays behind to defend them, but he used his bullets on the door, and wastes precious time trying to reload.
And they keep showing a wide shot of him on the landing, with this gigantic window behind him, so obviously Michael is gonna pick the kid up and fling him through it, right? RIGHT??
WRONG. Mikey just lifts Brady up by the face and crushes his skull with one hand. I feel ripped off for not getting such an obviously set up defenestration...but I also can't fault a one-handed facecrush.
As Rachel and Jamie run up to the attic, she shouts back at the killer, "LEAVE US ALONE!" and upon hearing that, Michael stops. Realises what he's been doing, apologises, and leaves. See, all you had to do was ask.
Aaaahahaha, no. Nope. He ignores her completely and keeps coming.
They climb up onto the roof to try and get to the other side of the house and go from there. But naturally, Meyers is in pursuit, and Rachel uses the cable wire to tie around Jamie and lower her to the ground. Not quite all the way, but she makes it.
Rachel also finds her own way down when Mike throws her from the roof. She barely manages to survive that, somehow.
Jamie runs off to try and find anyone to help, and fortunately, Loomis arrives to take her to the schoolhouse so they can hide there until the state police show up.
But of course, Michael is there immediately, and NOW he throws someone through a window. And he suddenly has a very bad version of his mask. Oops.
Rachel and the drunken mob arrive at the school, drawn by the alarms going off from the break in, and they drive out of town and into safety! Whew!! The day is saved by the drunken mob!
Ahaha, nope. Michael Meyers rises up from the back of the truck to wreak havoc, in a final fight that ultimately makes zero sense and is absurd. In all the best ways.
First of all, where did Michael come from? I know he climbs up from the back, but was he just dragging for the last five miles? Why did the police hurrying by into town not see him? Why does the driver not see anything while everyone in back gets stabbed?
After Mike rips out the driver's throat, Rachel gets behind the wheel, and slams on the brakes, flinging Michael out and over the cab. But that's not good enough since he's still walking around so she rams him with the truck.
Michael and the truck crash off the road, and Rachel goes to flag down the state police driving by. Jamie sneaks out of the truck and goes to poke at her uncle's hopefully dead body. The hand clutching his knife opens up, and there's an interesting almost sort of passing of the torch moment. It's a nice, almost subtle moment. It can be taken either symbolically or literally as some sort of evil energy.
Everyone calls out to her, and she gets away, and Michael's not about to stand for that, so he makes one last attempt to kill his family.
Being surrounded by cops doesn't do him any good though, and they all empty their weapons into him.
You would think that is the end of it, bad guy's dead, but instead it looks like there was some sort of symbolic passing of the torch going on. The movie slowly moves around the house, and events almost mirror the prologue of the first movie, as the camera dons a mask, stalks closer to Rachel, and kills her, eventually revealing a bloody, knife wielding Jamie at the stop of the stairs, as Loomis freaks out.
And let me tell you, Danielle Harris NAILS the Meyersness of it all. The stance, the dead stare, the breathing, it's perfect.
It's a great ending, setting up lots of interesting story possibilities, I'm sure!
Video: It looks perfectly good with no complaints.
Sound Bite: "What the hell are we dealing with?" "EVIL."
Body Count: Michael Meyers never disappoints. He's like a top. Wind him up, set him loose, and watch him go.
1 - Everyone in the ambulance gets massacred, starting with the doctor getting a thumb in the brain.
2 - The other doctor surely dies.
3 - The driver too.
4 - Mechanic run through by Michael.
5 - Bucky gets electrocuted
An entire police station is wiped out.
6 - Dead deputy Luggin found
7 - Kelly gets killed with shotgun...but not in the normal way.
8 - Brady gets his skull crushed and not flung out the window.
9 - One of the lynchers gets stabbed in the back.
10 - Another in the gut
11 - A third flung from the truck.
12 - Driver gets his neck ripped out.
13 - Michael gets filled so full of lead he should be a pencil.
14 - Rachel killed by Jamie
Best Corpse: I'm going to go outside the normal parameters, and pick the truck massacre, as Mike just tears through them. With a special highlight of the driver's neck.
Blood Type - B: There's plenty of blood where there needs to be, but also some stunning lack of blood at times. And the effects are good at times.
Sex Appeal: There's some nudity while Kelly has sex with Rachel's boyfriend.
Drink Up! Every time someone shoots at Michael
Video Nasties: I'll go with that truck massacre again!
Movie Review: I have no idea how this movie is viewed. Surely not as poorly as Season of the Witch, since I've never heard any comments about it. But for myself, I really enjoyed the movie. There's some dodgy plotting and plot holes to be sure, but it moves nimbly enough that you almost don't notice them. It's a great return to form for the Halloween series, getting back to basics, and it does everything you'd expect it to do, while moving the plot of the Meyers family forward. It's got some scares, some good kills, and good action. Is it as good as the first two? Well, it comes close, in my opinion. Four out of five Halloween masks.
Entertainment Value: As always, Loomis is a hoot to watch, and Pleasence is a blast delivering his tortured lines and trying to make people just listen. He has a great early foil with another doctor played by Michael Pataki. Danielle Harris is actually amazing, especially for her age. It's no wonder she's as good as she is today. There's still some silliness, and fun to be had, and its just as entertaining as you'd want this to be, with on the edge of your seat chills...which only abate in the middle act when the action lulls. Three out of five clown costumes.