Label: Anchor Bay
Region Code: B/2
Release date: 15th October, 2012
Run time: 84 min
Director: Dwight H. Little
Stars: Donald Pleasence, Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Beau Starr, Kathleen Kinmont, George P. Wilbur, Michael Pataki, Sasha Jenson
This Blu-ray release of Halloween 4 is an essential upgrade. - DVD Talk.
In 1978, director John Carpenter changed the face of horror cinema and made movie history with HALLOWEEN, the terrifying account of psycho killer Michael Myers' horrific rampage through the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois.
In 1981 Dick Rosenthal picked up the story in HALLOWEEN II - continuing on that same night of bloody mayhem – adding more gore and elaborating on the reasons for Michael Myers' psychotic spree.
In 1982 HALLOWEEN III took a totally different direction to the first two films. The producers of HALLOWEEN were toying with the idea of creating a TALES FROM THE CRYPT style series where different stories could be produced under the HALLOWEEN name. Nigel Kneale (THE QUATERMASS EXPRIMENT) was brought in to co-write the screenplay with director Tommy Lee Wallace. This was not a slasher film and Michael Myers was absent. Instead the film told the story of a crazy toymaker, Conal Cochran, who was intent on murdering as many children as possible on Halloween night according to an ancient Celtic ritual. As Cochran explains: “Halloween - the festival of Samhain! The last great one took place three thousand years ago, when the hills ran red... with the blood of animals and children.” The term Samhain which is used in the film had been seen earlier scrawled on a blackboard in a scene in the original HALLOWEEN – but the connection ends there. Although HALLOWEEN III is an interesting diversion from the series, it was not well-received by the slasher audiences. It is likely that it would have fared better by totally dropping the HALLOWEEN brand name and sticking to its secondary title SEASON OF THE WITCH.
By the late 1980’s US horror was dominated by sequels and franchises. As a lifelong fan of horror I had taken time out and was catching up on older, foreign or banned films which were far more interesting than the glossy, formulaic horror of the American mainstream. When HALLOWEEN 4 was devised, Jamie Lee Curtis was a big Hollywood star, and no longer available to portray Laurie Strode, so a new central character was introduced in the form of Jamie – Laurie’s daughter! It was bad enough having the brother/sister relationship of HALLOWEEN II to contend with without a Myers’ niece thrown into the mix. Executive producer Moustapha Akkad wanted to approach the latest movie with a back-to-basics attitude; suspense over gore.
HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS is set ten years to the day of that fateful Halloween when the adult Michael Myers first terrorized the sleepy town of Haddonfield, Illinois. The malevolent monster awakes from a decade-long coma then, on route to another hospital, he decimates the ambulance crew, escapes and returns home. His latest prey is his niece, Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris), a young girl whose short life has been plagued by recurring nightmares involving her evil uncle. The only man aware of the true horror of the situation is the increasingly demented Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence), Michael’s childhood psychiatrist and now the killer’s nemesis. After a brief, explosive encounter with Michael at a service station, Loomis goes to Haddonfield to warn Sheriff Meeker of the impending danger. A curfew is enforced, a bar full of rednecks take up arms and form a posse to hunt down the scourge of Haddonfield, whilst Jamie and adopted sister Rachel (Ellie Cornell) hole up in Sheriff Meeker’s house with his curvaceous daughter Kelly (Kathleen Kinmont) and Rachel’s errant boyfriend Brady (Sasha Jenson). Needless to say the evening does not go well as the posse shoot each other and Michael Myers enters the Meeker house with bloody consequences.
HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS proved to be a huge success and does come across as being the best of the sequels – which isn’t actually saying much. A few interesting ideas are incorporated in the film: the siege of the Meeker house and the posse of redneck vigilantes brought to mind the zombie survival techniques of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD – this notion was enhanced by one scene where several “Michael Myers” make an appearance. There is also a new twist introduced at the end of the film. The “back-to-basics” approach encouraged by Moustapha Akkad is certainly preferable to the full-on-gore with little suspense approach of the next instalment, HALLOWEEN 5: THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS - but you are still left with an urge to just go back and watch the first film.
The Blu-ray release of HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS looks and sounds great. There are precious few extras but as Halloween is looming and Amazon and other online retailers are selling this for less than half the RRP, it seems like the ideal time to pick up a copy.