It All Happens In The Dark

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You CAN go home again. Well, kind of.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

The opening credits of Halloween 4 are absolutely beautiful with minimal music and mostly just the wind to keep us company while we take a tour of an empty countryside boasting season flair.

 

I only wish the rest of the feature had been an inspired as those few shots.

After the non-Michael Myers Halloween 3: Season of the Witch, we return to Mysersville or rather, Haddonfield. But first we have to pick up Michael, that old bum. An ambulance driving in the rain is tasked with transferring Michael from whatever institution he is at now (sorry, I spilled my soda and missed the name) to Smith’s Grove Sanitarium – the night before Halloween of course. A security guard with bad teeth gets us mostly up to date: Ten years ago Michael was after his sister, killed sixteen people (maybe more) was shot by Dr. Loomis, and both Michael and the doctor nearly burnt to death in a hospital fire.

When we get our first glimpse of Michael his head is all wrapped in bandages, Julia style from Hellraiser 2. I am curious about this – after a decade, why would his face still be bandaged? Maybe he is so ugly he cannot be looked at. Or they just don’t know us to see his face. That is another thing curious to me – but this time about the series as a whole. We see Michael’s face only once, in the original and never again. Yet in the Friday the 13th films, that he is in, there is always  an unmasking of Jason – it is expected – at which point Jason always has a different face. I guess axes to your skull and being buried and at the bottom of a lake would probably alter your facial structure. I like that they don’t show Michael’s face but it is interesting contrasting the two franchises on that aspect isn’t it? No? It’s just me? OK…

Well, Michael DOESN’T WANNA go to Smith’s Grove, so as soon as he is loaded in the ambulance and everyone is thinking ‘That wasn’t so bad was it?’ he gets all kill-y.

Now we cut to Haddonfield proper and the Carruthers house, same night. Little Danielle Harris can’t sleep, because her parents are dead. See, Jamie Lloyd (Danielle) is the daughter of Laurie Strode. And Laurie died eleven months ago. Or did she just fake her death and leave little Danielle behind? Hmmmm. Now Jamie lives with the Carruthers, who have adopted her – and Jamie has a big sis named Rachel (Ellie Cornell) – and guess whatchaya’ll – Laurie used to babysit Rachel when she was a kid! See how they’ve tied it all together?

Jamie decides to peruse her little shoebox of memories. I love when they use pictures that are obviously stills from a previous film as photographs that characters have of someone. I remember the scene from Halloween in this picture. There was no around with a camera. Unless it was that old Peeping Tom Mr. Riddle. And later, when Michael comes across the same set of photos, he picks up one that is obviously a cropped publicity image from the first film – minus Annie and Lynda. I am not ragging on this practice, as a matter of fact it greatly amuses me.

So, Jamie is in  her bedroom – and so is Michael. This scene always creeps me out because I can never remember where Michael is hiding. Hmmm… his mask doesn’t look too great. Why is it so hard to replicate that damn mask? Can’t someone just order a William Shatner mask from Ebay and paint it white? What happened to the original? Each sequel presents us with a significantly different version of the mask. I guess in theory it does make sense – Michael himself wouldn’t have access to the original mask (since it burnt – most likely onto his face – in Halloween 2 – even though that was obviously not the same mask as in the original) so he would have had to steal another at some point. And behold, we do get a scene of him taking a new one here – which makes me wonder about two things – has he been just walking around with bandages on his face up until now? And Haddonfield actually sells Michael Myers masks? I guess so, because later in the film we get a mob of Michael impersonaters all decked out like their favorite boogeyman.

Well, Jamie was just dreaming that Michael was taunting her. Does she already have a psychic connection of some sort to her uncle? She seems to. Or maybe she just has nightmares every night. Poor little girl. And the kids all make fun of her at school the next day because she is the only one without a costume. They’re all “Ha-Ha, she doesn’t need a costume, every day is Halloween at Jamie’s house.” Well, hey, that sounds pretty fun to me. But they really are horrible little bastards, these kids – they make fun of her for having a dead mother and turn “Jamie’s an oprhan, Jamie’s an orphan” into a little sing-song.

Dr. Loomis finds out Michael has escaped and that no one informed him he was being transferred and he is off on his “he’s not human, he’s evil on two legs” spiel. Why don’t these people listen to him? And then they always blame him! Well, of course a call comes, and guess what? Michael is going home again. And Dr. Loomis is going to get him good this time, damn it!

One thing this film does get right is the creepy Halloween night atmosphere – especially effective in the scenes after the power goes out all over town and Rachel and Jamie have been separated while trick-or-treating. The town seems deserted, the fog is swirling, and you can almost feel the chill in the air. Not at good as Carpenter’s dark streets, but it comes damn near close. Even seeing tulips bobbing in the breeze in someone’s yard was not enough to ruin the effect for me. And that is saying something.

Well, everyone in town finds out that Michael is back – and after he pays a visit to the police station and slaughters all who are there – the town “beer bellies” decide to get their shotguns and find the fucker. Guess how that goes.

The sheriff, who was not at the precinct when the assault occurred decides to barricade everyone – Rachel, Jamie, his slutty daughter, the playa boyfriend – in his house and call the State Police. Guess how that goes.

Rachel proves herself a REAL sister to Jamie even if they are not bound by blood (well, I guess they are now) and Michael is at the end, believed vanquished. There are four more sequels, so do you believe it? There is also a surprise ending, which I thought was rather silly, but a lot of people dig, so maybe you might. Aside from H20 and Part 2 this is probably the best sequel in the series, though it doesn’t come anywhere near the brilliance of the original. But hey, what has? C

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One response to “You CAN go home again. Well, kind of.

  1. James December 9, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Damn fine review! I agree that the mask in this one looks dreadful, but that compared to most of the other sequels, Part IV is the least offensive in terms of quality. Rock on.

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