Review: Halloween 4 The Return of Michael Myers / Director: Dwight H. Little / Screenplay: Alan B. McElroy / Starring: Donald Pleasence, Danielle Harris, George P. Wilbur / Release Date: Out Now
The proverbial bad penny, he just keeps coming home. At this point, Michael Myers has returned more times to his childhood home of Haddonfield, Illinois than Ricky Butcher has come back to Eastenders.
After deciding to sit out the events of Season of the Witch, Myers escapes once more from his cosy sanatorium (no mean feat, considering the film starts with him in a coma) to stalk and murder his surviving family members. With Jamie Lee Curtis's Laurie Strode otherwise disposed (she wouldn't return until Halloween: H20) Michael sets about hunting down his seven year old niece, Jamie. In turn, Michael is himself dogged by the tenacious Doctor Loomis, disfigured, depressed but determined to stop Michael before any more blood can be shed.
With the previous film in the series regarded by most as a failure and a mistake (although it does have its merits) it's good to have The Shape back, complete with his iconic Shatner mask and boiler suit. His first stop, as always, is to murder an innocent mechanic and steal his overalls. Murdering poor workmen is as much Myers' modus operandi as his obsession with his family. Jamie Lee Curtis's presence is missed, but Donald Pleasence lends the film an air of class most horror sequels struggle to muster. Pleasence looks less than enthused to be there, but it works in that Doctor Loomis is supposed to be tired and weary by now anyway. Little Danielle Harris is far better than one might expect as Jamie, managing to be far less irritating than most child actors tend to be. Harris would return in Rob Zombie's terrible remake, creeping out anyone who has seen Halloween 4 by taking off all her clothes and acting as that film's cheesecake.
The story is effectively a re-run of the first Halloween without quite so much tension or originality. There are some neat ideas though, chiefly the idea that Michael's costume is now available to buy in shops all around Haddonfield. There's a great scene in which Loomis and the town sheriff are confronted by a whole host of Michael Myers imitators (really struggling to resist the urge to make an Austin Powers joke here). We sure hope William Shatner is getting royalties for all those masks being sold around Haddonfield every Halloween.
It feels less relentless and creepy than Carpenter's original movie, but Halloween 4 is a perfectly serviceable sequel. Myers' murders are all very entertaining and grisly (particularly his shoving a thumb into a paramedic's brain and there's a great impaling via shotgun later in the film). All this is accompanied by Carpenter's fantastic theme tune and some great lines from Loomis. Myers looks very menacing here too, in comparison to later sequels in which he and his mask would tend to look a little silly. His fistfight with one of the town's unfortunate teenagers is a genuinely impressive moment, ranking as one of the character's best of all time. As the kid who once had his head punched off by Jason Voorhees would attest, engaging a horror icon in fisticuffs is rarely a good idea. Upgraded to Blu-ray, the picture looks clear and crisp, Myers' murders sharp and vibrant; meanwhile, Carpenter's theme tune has rarely sounded better.
Halloween 4 is a fun horror sequel which doesn't besmirch the original movie. It's unoriginal and mildly predictable, but it does have Michael Myers stabbing a man to death with his thumb.