Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Trick or Trailers: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

The fact that this year marks the 35th anniversary of John Carpenter's Halloween has been just cause for celebration. However, the fact that this year also marks the 25th anniversary of Halloween 4 hasn't gotten nearly as much notice. Subtitled The Return of Michael Myers, this was an effort on the part of Moustapha Akkad to save the series, after the Michael Myers-free Halloween III: Season of the Witch had been roundly rejected.

From a commercial standpoint, going back to basics was an excellent call on Akkad's part and while subsequent entries might've made fans wish that Michael could be permanently retired, 4 was a very good effort all around. For me, it's the pinnacle of the Myers sequels. Director Dwight Little is no John Carpenter but he did an admirable job just the same. The atmosphere is dead on, the suspense is effective, and there's a clear reverence for the original.

Alan McElroy's script picks up where II left off, building on the familial aspects that Carpenter's screenplay introduced in II, but without burdening his screenplay with the kind of mystical mumbo-jumbo that 5 & 6 went for. And the cast is terrific, populated with a set of genuinely likeable young protagonists (why Ellie Cornell's career never took off, I don't get) and topped by the irreplaceable Donald Pleasence.

I'm predisposed to having fond memories of 4 because it was the first installment of the series I was able to see in the theater but I think by any objective standard this remains the gold standard of the series. If they were going to continue the saga of Michael Myers, this showed how to do it right and bringing back Pleasence as Loomis was the real masterstroke. While it would've been easy to leave the character dead, having Loomis miraculously survive an explosion that should've reduced him to ash was the smartest decision anyone involved in this film made, giving it a stamp of legitimacy. As soon as you saw Pleasence ranting about Michael in the trailers and TV spots for this, you knew Halloween was on again.


Wings1295 said...

Very well said! It is a great sequel and Rachel was a great heroine. So many great scenes here, love when Michael is in the dark alley and Rachel seems him up ahead. Creepy! Just wish it didn't all go so south after this one.

I did get to celebrate the 25th anniversary of this film, by the way. A theater in Providence had a special showing of a 35mm print of the film and in attendance to speak about the movie and the franchise was Justin Beahm, who directed the "You Can't Kill the Boogeyman" short about the series and is currently writing what he calls is the definitive book on the movies. Can't wait for that!

Jeff Allard said...

Yeah, I bet that's going to be a great book - can't wait to read it!