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Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

tn_halloween5By HALLOWEEN 5: THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS, it is clear that we’ve fully transitioned into HALLOWEEN, an ongoing series from producer Moustapha Akkad, as opposed to the creation of John Carpenter. We still have Carpenter’s characters of Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis, but we’ve forgotten all about Laurie and moved on to the story of her daughter Jamie (who it’s hard to associate with Laurie, since we never saw them together). This one is much less of a rehash of the original than part 4, and it digs into the series tradition of really fuckin stretchin it in getting themselves out of the corner they painted themselves into last time. They actually went into production before part 4 came out so they could have it done the next year, yet it seems like separate people trying to figure out how the fuck to follow up a part 4 ending they had no control over. That gives it kind of an adventure serial cliffhanger type of feel, I guess. How will The Shape get out of this mess? Find out next time!

In part 4 they had to undo Loomis (Donald Pleasance) having blown himself and Michael sky high in part 2. They handled that by just having both of them alive but burnt. This time they have to undo part 4’s ending, where Michael was shot to death by cops and collapsed into an abandoned mine, but his evil spirit and/or curse was passed on to his little niece Jamie Lloyd, and she stabbed her step mom in the tradition of little Michael killing his sister in the opening of part 1.

Part 5 replays the climax of part 4, but adds some new stuff: after Michael collapses into the mine, cops throw a bomb in there. I guess that’s what he needs to get revenge for – trying to blow him up? But he manages to crawl through a sewer pipe and to a river, avoiding the explosion and floating away like baby Moses. Instead of being taken in by the Pharaoh’s daughter he ends up with an old hermit (Harper Roisman, MONKEYBONE) and his pet parrot.

Apparently he’s supposed to be in a coma for a year, then wakes up the day before the next Halloween. I still think there’s gotta be some stories from that missing year. Did this “mountain man,” as the credits call him, hook an I.V. up to Michael or something? Did he bore Michael with long conversations? Did Michael kill him when he woke up? What did the parrot make of all this? Did Michael consider committing his next murders with the parrot on his shoulder, saying scary shit to the victims? And why didn’t Rob Zombie cover any of this in his movie? We deserve answers.

mp_halloween5
They don’t really seem that ready to me.

Oh yeah, but what about Jamie (still played by Danielle Harris) being the killer now at the end of part 4? We see that part again too. As a reoccurring nightmare. I’m honestly unclear whether this means she did kill her stepmom and is now in a home and having nightmares about it, or whether when we saw it first it was only a dream like that one season of Dallas where Bobby died. Whatever the case, she’s mute now and traumatized and a resident at the Haddonfield Children’s Home with Loomis as her doctor.

Now, it is important for people to be able to make their own medical choices, but personally I question the wisdom of having the same doctor who worked with her uncle all through childhood and failed to stop him from becoming a two time (soon to be three time) spree murderer. I feel like that would be a good enough reason to try someone new. But who knows what kind of insurance Jamie has? Maybe Loomis is her only option.

If you watch alot of current horror movies you probly know that Harris is the rare child actor to grow into a legitimate grown-woman actress, even while staying primarily in the genre. She’s the heroine of HATCHET II and III and SEE NO EVIL 2 and she even migrated from this original HALLOWEEN series to the remake one, playing Annie in Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN and HALLOWEEN II. Though this here is not one of her better movies, it is a very impressive performance for such a young actor. She has to carry more of the story than in part 4, but without speaking for most of it. She has to do everything from showing her love for her friends (including a dog) to running around in terror and trying to communicate with people through gestures. Also she has some kind of telepathic connection to Michael where she senses what he’s up to and goes through motions, like miming pulling a mask on. And she freaks out and has convulsions as bad things happen.

That connection is a decent gimmick because they can use it to monitor him like in Dracula, but at the same time it makes it seem like she could still be in danger of following in his footsteps. She senses Michael getting into shenanigans and tries to warn Loomis to try to warn the people. Her stepsister Rachel (Ellie Cornell) is back for a little bit and also her sister’s friend Tina (Wendy Kaplan, SUMMER DREAMS: THE STORY OF THE BEACH BOYS) looks after her. There’s a pretty effective sequence where Tina’s taking a shower, Michael is in the house, Loomis calls and she escapes in a towel, but never actually sees him and decides it was a false alarm. Jamie was right, but nobody knows it.

In another sequence Michael shows up at the home and Jamie runs all over trying to charades somebody into understanding what’s going on, but nobody gets it. Then crazy fuckin Dr. Loomis yells at her and threatens her, saying she’s “protecting” Michael. Motherfucker, I just told you he was here, nobody listened.

I think in general having a purposely unlikable character for the audience to enjoy seeing get killed is unworthy of what Carpenter created in HALLOWEEN. That’s more a FRIDAY THE 13TH sequel’s business. But like I said, this is Moustapha Akkad’s HALLOWEEN now, and to be honest my favorite death scene in this one is Tina’s asshole boyfriend Mikey (Jonathan Chapin, SIXTEEN CANDLES, TWICE DEAD, THE ADVENTURES OF MARY-KATE & ASHLEY: THE CASE OF THE FUN HOUSE MYSTERY). He’s a leather jacket/round sunglasses/earring wearing cool guy and he’s sitting in his convertible feeling awesome when Michael comes up behind him. It seems like he sees him in the rear view mirror, but then he smiles and you realize he’s just checking himself out and fixing his hair. Sorry buddy, you won’t need cool hair where you’re going.

That the boyfriend’s name is Mike or Mikey is kind of a funny setup, too, because Michael Myers steals his car and his Halloween mask and Tina later gets in the car with him, thinking it’s her boyfriend. But since she’s calling him Mikey who knows what Michael Myers thinks is going on? He’s a confused individual in my opinion. In fact, he might even think he is her boyfriend, because when she yells at him to stop at the gas station for cigarettes he actually slams on the brakes and backs up and lets her out.

It’s a big, bulky mask he’s wearing and I was real excited about the idea that he could still be wearing his usual mask underneath. Like he doesn’t know it’s not his face. Sadly, we eventually see him reach for the other mask and switch.

(By the way, the mask looks pretty different in this one, kindy droopy and dirty, but I like it. Also, some doofus has the brilliant idea of wearing an identical mask for a scare and almost gets shot by the cops. Always good to have one mistaken identity mask in a HALLOWEEN.)

Michael does mix it up a little with weapons, mostly gardening and farming tools: a pitchfork, a cultivator, a scythe. Apparently this was shot to be more gory than the original HALLOWEEN, which was the more popular style in those days, but Akkad didn’t like it and then it had to be cut to get the R-rating. It’s obviously not as tense as HALLOWEEN, so more over-the-topness might’ve made it more fun. But there’s at least one imaginative bit to create horror without showing much: a character figures out someone’s been murdered after petting a kitten and discovering blood on its fur.

Like part 4 this has a bunch of vehicle related action toward the end. Michael is actually driving and trying to run over the protagonists, including Jamie and a boy from the home named Billy (Jeffrey Landman, SMOKE ALARM: THE UNFILTERED TRUTH ABOUT CIGARETTES) who I think has a crush on her. Somehow these little kids are able to outrun the car. I guess it’s the reverse of how masked killers can walk at a regular pace and catch up with a person who’s running. That must be why they usually avoid motor vehicles.

There’s a moment with Michael here that I like for being so seemingly out of character. When he has Jamie cornered in a coffin she somehow convinces him to show her his face, and we see one eye and a tear comes out. He’s always been emotionless, even as a kid, how does this happen that he feels sad for the niece he’s been trying to kill? I don’t know. That’s why I think it’s cool, though. It throws you off.

But the weirdest and most controversial aspect of this one is the introduction of a new plot thread that will, in part 6, give Michael a new motive. We’ll discuss that with part 6 though because we don’t know that yet, and neither did the writers and producers when they made this.

Nevertheless, they leave us with a few things to contemplate:

1) A few times the camera focuses on a Celtic rune tattooed on Michael’s wrist. It’s sort of like in HAROLD AND MAUDE when you see that Maude has a concentration camp tattoo on her wrist and it explains everything about her attitude toward life. But in this case you don’t know what the tattoo means so it doesn’t explain jack shit.

2) A half an hour into the movie a mysterious, shadowy man wearing a black trenchcoat, steel-tipped cowboy boots and fedora arrives in Haddonfield via bus. He’s played by Don L. Shanks (REVENGE OF THE NINJA, SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT, I’LL ALWAYS KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER), who also plays Michael Myers, and he’s credited as “Man In Black.” We see his feet or body a few times throughout the movie, but never his face. At the end the police actually manage to arrest Michael. But as he’s awaiting transfer to maximum security (still wearing his mask!) the Man In Black arrives to shoot all the cops and blow a wall off of the police station to bust him out like it’s an old western.

THE END! I always thought this was a stupid way to end the movie, but I think I’m changing my mind on that in my old age. I don’t ever want to think about there being a Man In Black out there while watching Carpenter’s movie, but I was okay with them making sequels so I should be happy when they veer down crazy, unexpected paths. But I think I’d like it better if they never got to make part 6 and we were left forever having no information about who this dude is or why he felt Michael was above the law.

Credit is due for this one having the first ever Native American Michael Myers. Shanks is of Cherokee and Choctaw descent, and plays Native sidekicks and chiefs in many movies and TV shows, including Grizzly Adams.

This was directed by Dominique Othenin-Girard, a Swiss-French director who Debra Hill met at a film festival and recommended to Akkad, even though she’d sold her rights to the series. I’m not sure which movie she’d seen – he’d recently filmed one called NIGHT ANGEL, but it didn’t play Cannes until after HALLOWEEN 5. Maybe it was his 1985 film AFTER DARKNESS? At any rate, he went on to direct OMEN IV: THE AWAKENING and an episode of The Red Shoe Diaries before spending most of his career doing German and Swiss television. The screenplay is credited to Michael Jacobs (CERTAIN FURY, 3:15) & Othenin-Girard and Shem Bitterman (BETTY AND CORETTA, WHITNEY). So there’s your connection between Michael Myers and Whitney Houston.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 26th, 2016 at 9:56 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

12 Responses to “Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers”

  1. “I guess it’s the reverse of how masked killers can walk at a regular pace and catch up with a person who’s running.”

    Vern, please tell me you’ve seen “Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie VERNon.” If not, I think you’d get a real kick out of it. It also makes for some great October viewing. It’s on Shudder too (that Netflix for horror movies program), which

  2. Ray:

    Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

    Ever since this movie played some film festivals it has gotten great reviews, especially here on the internet where people tend to fall for this sort of shit. Of course you know I am a fan of the horrors and it’s always good to see somebody try a different approach, so I was hoping they were right. …

  3. Damn, who would’ve guessed that some super shitty German TV movies were directed by a director of the HALLOWEEN franchise? They ran as part of a “Movie of the week” kind of deal named “The great TV Novel”. I never watched any of them, because I’m not the soap opera guy, but I remember laughing loud about the title of one of his directorial works: THE HOLY WHORE (“Die heilige Hure”). If I remember the trailers right, it was about a nun who was moonlighting as a prostitute.

    Too bad that they didn’t give him one of those teen slasher movies, that German TV produced when SCREAM became even over here a huge hit.

  4. Oh God. Oh God. Please tell me you’re about to do part 6, one of the most wretched movies ever made.

  5. Ray, I hope you didn’t read Vern’s review as it might devastate you :)

  6. Okay, Part 4 and 5 two-pack USA region is $5 on Amazon, and it’s been at least 10 years since I’ve watched these. It’s double-feature time.

  7. Sorry about the Leslie Vernon review. It seems like a long time ago but I don’t think my opinion would change at this point.

  8. This is a great review that’s funny for the way you struggle to make sense out of logic that doesn’t make sense. The Harold and Maude comparison is classic Vern!

  9. SPOILERS for a 25+ Year-old Film
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    Just re-watched this one, and I think it’s pretty good, too. Both this and 4 hold up very well. Neither of them is in the same league as Part 1, but each acquits itself well compared to a variety of other reference points, whether that be subsequent Halloween films (6-8) or other slasher films of the era.

    I’ll start with what I don’t like or that don’t necessarily add up:
    -I’m bittersweet about them killing off Ellie. There’s something cool about there being two final girls and their relationship, and I think Ellie is a pretty great final girl. I’m not opposed to her dying, but I would have liked to see her go out fighting. She kind of dies with a whimper, and I think she deserved better.
    -I do think the mask is kind of cool in its own right, but it’s a weird continuity flub to have such a different mask given that film does so well in the continuity department otherwise.
    -Loomis pretty much commits child abuse several times throughout the film.
    -What the hell has Loomis been doing the past year? Does he live in Haddonfield now? Why does he have such unfettered access to Jamie? One of the great mysteries of this series is how someone who is so clearly unhinged basically gets to come and go as he pleases or stage sting operations and tell cops what to do.
    -How big is Haddonfield? The school from part 1 and the size of the police department and other things would give us the sense this is a pretty sleepy little town. But it’s got its own Children’s mental health clinic and like 10-20 cops (Didn’t have much trouble replacing all the cops who got murdered last year, I suppose)?
    -Where are Rachel’s parents?
    -Obviously, the kind of walked back the implications of the last two scenes of Part 4, but I forgive them for it.
    -Wasn’t Michael supposed to be still all burnt to hell as of Part 4. And don’t they spend a lot of time in both of these films showing us his burnt up hands to remind us that, you know, he got all burnt up? So, how come when his mask is off (twice! you can see his face when he wakes up at Old Man Parrot’s place), his face looks normal with no sign of any burns? Shouldn’t he be like Freddy-grade fucked up?

    Here’s what I like:
    -The production values are high, and the film looks great. There are some very nicely shot, nicely lit scenes.
    -Jamie is a hell of a final girl. Having a kid in this role is an inspired choice, and Danielle Harris does truly fine acting in this film. Over the course of Parts 4 and 5 you really come to bond with here. She is always compelling. I like her as the protagonist. I don’t want to see her be the killer.
    -More generally, I like the characters. We’ve bonded with the Sheriff, Rachel, and Jamie. I like Tina. I care about these characters, so there are real stakes.
    -There is some very good stalking tension and some really good stalking set pieces, including Jamie in the chute and Michael chasing Jamie through the woods…in an old muscle car? This latter idea works surprisingly well, and again, it looks great.
    -Good, solid kills. Nothing outlandish, nobody getting their face frozen and smashed on a table, but the kills are solid and varied.
    -It feels like Halloween in Haddonfield. It feels cool, autumnal, midwestern, and Halloweenish.
    -There are some neat, weird little touches. I dig that Michael is the slasher icon who drives. Jason doesn’t drive. Freddy doesn’t really drive (does a bit of bus driving here and there, I here). Michael drives, and he seems to dig it. Anyway, the scene with him and Tina in the car is weird, fun, and tense, and you’ll never see anything like that in a Jason or Freddy movie. I dig the idea that Michael occasionally, inexplicably just takes a time-out and decides to let a quasi-social interaction with a victim play out for awhile. He’s a bit more nuanced and unpredictable than Jason this way. He’s the thinking man’s mute, undead stalker is what I’m saying.
    -I like Jamie’s relationship with the little boy from the clinic. It’s poignant and earnest and feels organic, not just like a cloying gimmick.
    -I dig the way the old man takes Michael in and seemingly cares for him. Him and his parrot just kind of living in that shack. It’s quirky. Who the hell is this guy? I also love that as soon as Michael wakes up, he kills this guy without missing a beat. Keep the change, buddy!
    -Shanks is a much better Myers than George Wilbur. Nick Castle still takes the cake, but anything is an improvement over Wilbur.
    -As much as Part 6 completely screws the pooch on this Thorne Cult shit, I think the whole Man in Black thing is played very effectively in this. It’s effectively mysterious and WTF. They just couldn’t pay it off in Part 6, but it adds to this one, I think.

    Even the things I don’t like, I kind of of like.
    -As I said above, the mask is actually kind of cool on its own terms. It’s more unkempt and ghoulish and flapping out there. I dig it, it’s just so weird that we’re supposed to believe that this is a traditional Myers mask in general and the same one he had on at the end of Part 4.
    -Rachel dying sucks, and she deserves a better death. However, some silver linings. She looks great and seems more confident and happy in this one than in Part 4. Like she’s kind of found her inner badass and come into her own. She’s far more reserved and unsure of herself in the first 50 minutes of Part 4. She’s a more confident, sexy broad in this one but still has that virginal final girl thing going, Also, the film brings back this valued character, let’s us spend some quality time with her (and her with Jamie), and then it still has the balls to kill her off. That adds some felt stakes to things. I was emotionally invested in her, which is more than I can say for about any character in any of the last umpteen Fridays or any Halloween since this one (including Jamie Lee in H20).
    -Loomis being so wacked that he is willing to accost and harass and endanger this little traumatized girl here is completely believable. It’s the logical progression of Loomis’s own mad obsession. It’s upsetting to seem him going off on Jamie in the clinic, but it’s totally believable that Loomis is this bonkers.

    In summary:
    This film and Part 4 really work nicely together as a little mini-franchise with the franchise. Some very memorable, winning characters that I got invested in. Jamie and Rachel really anchor this and are the heart and soul of the film, allowing for some real felt peril where we’re not cheering on the killer. Michael remains pretty creepy and menacing. They never turn him into a joke or turn his victims into one-note cartoons that we want to see get killed (except Mikey, of course). Some good, tense stalking, some good kills. The films look very nice, and there are some pretty inspired scenes that are effectively shot and have Michael doing some strange, quirky–but never goofy–stuff. There is an appreciation for the character of Michael and his creepy voyeur tendencies. He is a watcher and a stalker who has an emotional attachment to Haddonfield and the Lloyds. He’s not just the shark that is Jason or the pure sadist that is Freddy. He’s more complex and weird. To have a satisfying, well-constructed little two-parter like this at this stage in the franchise is no mean feat. The Nightmare films tried it with Parts 4 and 5 and the Lisa Wilcox character, but I don’t think they approach what good old Moustapha and Co. accomplished with these two. And I’ll take these two over H20 any day.

  10. Sorry, Ellie = Rachel. The actress’s name is Ellie something.

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