Directed by Dwight H. Little [Other horror films: The Phantom of the Opera (1989), Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (2004)]
Giving us the first Myers since Halloween II, I always personally found this movie a lot of fun. God knows I watched it a lot when I was a kid on AMC, and it’s not impossible that I even saw this movie before I laid eyes on the first. Because of this nostalgia, let’s just admit that the movie’s almost perfect.
I mean, it’s not perfect, but honestly, what is there to really dislike about this one? I find the atmosphere of the finest quality, a good example being the opening, which showcases Halloween decorations in rural farmland. There’s something quite creepy about it, and it just seems a fantastic way to open the film, and always struck me as somewhat unique.
Another of my favorite portions of the film would be when the group tries to protect Jamie from Myers, and shut themselves in the Sheriff’s house, and so you have Jaime, Rachel, the Sheriff, the Sheriff’s daughter, Loomis, Deputy Logan, and Brady all there. One-by-one, though they’re locked in tight, they get picked off (and that battery-powered radio in the dark of the basement was creepy in of itself) slowly. It’s just a great sequence, and I also loved it.
Though focusing on Myers’ niece, Jamie (played by Danielle Harris) keeps some of that family element, it’s fair to say I think I liked the cast of the first Halloween more. That said, I think most of the central performances here, including Danielle Harris, bring a lot to the table.
I’m not usually fond of most performances from children, but I think Danielle Harris was fantastic. She has a strong emotional range, and it’s just impressive, especially as the movie carries on. Ellie Cornell was strong too, and worked well and believably with Harris. Beau Starr is no Charles Cyphers, but he makes for an okay sheriff. Michael Pataki (who I’ve recently seen in Graduation Day) was nice to see for his scenes, Kathleen Kinmont and Sasha Jenson make for okay side characters, and George Sullivan looked great sitting in a chair in the dark.
Of course, one of my favorite performances is that of Donald Pleasence. It’s in this movie that he gives one of my favorite quotes (calling Myers “evil on two legs”), and I love every time he’s on screen, from his certainty at the ambulance crash site that Michael escaped to the gas station to his conversation with the drunk religious guy to his approaching the Haddonfield police, asking for Brackett. He’s just such an engaging character, no matter what Pataki’s character might have to say about him.
Another thing I rather enjoy about the film are the kills. None of them are particularly gory (save maybe one toward the end when someone gets their throat ripped open), but they’re all well done, from someone being stabbed through the gut with a shotgun to heads being crushed. There’s solid suspense here, such as the opening dream of Jamie’s to the scene in the general store (itself another favorite scene of mine), and that’s to be commended.
Something about Halloween 4 also works in it’s favor, but it’s hard to put into words. The general store scene I mentioned above is part of it, another being Rachel looking for Jamie on the dark empty streets. That is a strong sequence – she briefly sees Myers, but gets away by climbing over fences and cutting through backyards – before she finds Jamie. Then the sheriff and Loomis find the pair before escaping a bunch of fake Myers and the real one.
It’s almost a sense of closeness, which isn’t quite right. I’m reminded of The Prowler, where I got a similar feeling. Some of the action took place only blocks away from a major party, and yet it was a private affair. You know there were people in their houses when Jamie and Rachel were both screaming for each other, and yet it was like they were the only ones in existence. It just gives the film a vibe I can’t quite explain, and I love it.
The ending of this one (and in fact, the main background of the next couple of movies, being the Curse of Thorn) might be a bit atypical, but I personally dug the final scene. It’s foreshadowed a few times, and I never had an issue with it, especially since Loomis loses it and goes for his gun, screaming “NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!” I mean, in my mind, that’s how you end a movie. It’s nowhere near as good as the first movie’s conclusion, but it’s still worth it.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved this movie. I love the vibe, the story, many of the characters, the opening rural Halloween decorations, the gas station sequence (which always reminded me of another favorite from childhood, being Children of the Corn) – this movie is one that I can’t say no to. I always have fun with it, and it’s a solid addition to the series.
7 thoughts on “Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)”