Seventeen more days ’till Halloween, Silver Shamrock! I’m back for the Halloweenening 2016 with my review of Halloween IV: The Curse of Michael Myers.
By this point in the Nightmare on Elm Street series I was starting to get bored with the sequels and my fondness for A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master is based almost entirely on nostalgia. In contrast, I found this to be a completely solid horror sequel. It’s not innovative the way the original was but it isn’t boring and has some genuinely creepy moments.
This movie was supposed to be another anthology entry, like last week’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch but the movie performed so poorly that the producers wanted to bring Michael Myers back. As much as I enjoyed Halloween III, I can understand people wondering where Michael Myers went. This really iconic character was introduced in two movies and then just disappears. John Carpenter worked with Dennis Etchison, who’d written Halloween novelizations to write a script but it was deemed too cerebral. So Carpenter and his frequent collaborator, Debra Hill, sold the rights, and this is how we have a fairly standard slasher sequel. I kind of wonder if there’s a place in the multiverse where Carpenter and Hill’s version exists. Halloween IV was good but I will always wonder what their sequel would look like.
The movie returns to Haddonfield. The opening has some great, desolate shots that are pretty creepy. You find out that Laurie Strode is dead. Halloween IV came out in 1988 and by this time, Jamie Lee Curtis was ready to walk away from the series. So we follow her daughter, Jamie (Danielle Harris), who is coping with the death of her parents and nightmares of a strange man. She lives with a foster family in Haddonfield.
Michael Myers (George P. Wilbur) remains in a coma after the events of Halloween II. He’s being transferred to Smith’s Grove and Dr. Loomis is NOT supervising this transfer. You know that if Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) were there that Michael Myers’ arms would be strapped down with chains, duct tape, and rope. Nope, his arms are unrestrained during the transfer, so, as the ambulance attendants talk about his still living niece, he springs to life and just murders everyone. His real target is Jamie but any living human being between him and her is a target.
Watching this movie, I realized that I accidentally lied about not having seen the later Halloween sequels. There’s a scene where a bunch of jerk children from the 80s are teasing Jamie for being an orphan and not celebrating Halloween when I realized that I’d absolutely seen this movie, so TBS or TNT must have shown it at least once.
This is the third time Michael Myers has escaped so this time the entire town of Haddonfield is on lock-down. That’s a cool idea that you don’t really see in the Nightmare on Elm Street series. Although, so much of A Nightmare on Elm Street is spent convincing adults that something awful is happening that I can’t imagine a whole town going into lock-down for Freddy.
Jamie’s foster sister, Rachel (Ellie Cornell), does everything she can to protect Jamie but there’s some incredibly unsubtle foreshadowing about Jamie’s future.
Yeah, that’s the same costume a young Michael Myers wore. I’m not like Dr. Loomis, I’m not normally the kind of person to dismiss a child as pure evil, but those old-timey, Pagliacci and Harlequin-style clown costumes are eight hundred times scarier than a regular clown costume, and any child that willingly chooses such a costume is devilish. Jamie dreams of Michael Myers but she doesn’t know who he is. Her fate is tied to his in a way that I don’t think is explained until Halloween VI: The Curse of Michael Myers. I remember nothing of Halloween V or Halloween VI, unless I watched them in a fugue state like this movie, so I can’t explain further how or why Jamie and Michael Myers are connected, aside from genetics. Regardless, the movie ends with Jamie reenacting Michael’s crimes and killing her foster mother.
I would have liked seeing Rachel fight Michael Myers more, honestly. She seems resourceful but the struggle between her and Michael isn’t nearly as painful as the fight between Michael and Laurie. Instead, we mostly see Michael dispatch a house full of people and fighting Rachel is an afterthought. She does survive a drop off a roof, though. And speaking of surviving long falls, I’m beginning to think that Dr. Loomis has some of Michael’s immortal evil in him. Not only did he survive being stabbed by Michael, then being immolated in Halloween II, Michael throws him out of an elementary school window in this movie and he seems mostly okay. This is a 75-year-old psychiatrist, not Macho Man Randy Savage.
The pacing in this movie is similar to the faster pacing of Halloween II but it doesn’t have as many P.O.V. shots. The movie makers were smart to stick with a synth-y score that retains the original theme.
All in all, this is a fun, entertaining movie, without being groundbreaking art. It’s good, but I wonder what could have been if Carpenter and Hill had been involved.
As I watch this series, I think that Michael Myers is becoming my favorite slasher icon. There’s an irrational chaotic evil to Michael Myers that I appreciate. As Dr. Loomis is hitch-hiking to fight Michael he’s picked up by a preacher who says, “You can’t kill damnation, Mister! It don’t die like a man does.” Freddy Kreuger is looking for vengeance and Jason Voorhees is trying to avenge his mom, but Michael Myers has little reason to exist (Until we learn about the Curse of Thorn. As of now, he has no reason to exist). Bad, traumatic things just randomly happen in life and so does Michael Myers.
Previously on the Halloweenening 2016
Halloween III: Season of the Witch