Halloween 4 (1988)
Plot: Ten years after his original massacre, the invalid Michael Myers awakens and returns to Haddonfield to kill his seven-year-old niece on Halloween. Can Dr. Loomis stop him?
Halloween 3 was not a success. Audiences were not down with the lack of Michael Myers, so the series laid dormant until Moustapha Akkad wanted to bring it back and resume the Michael Myers story. John Carpenter and Debra Hill were involved in the beginning stages of the process, but ultimately signed their rights away to Akkad after their script was rejected. Due to a looming writer's strike, a new script had to be finished in 11 days. With Carpenter, Hill, and original star Jamie Lee Curtis no longer having any involvement with the series, the only returning actor was Donald Pleasence in the role of Dr. Loomis, having been thought to have died off with Michael at the end of part 2.
Unlike the slow pumpkin intros of the first 3 movies, this starts with creepy shots of a creepy farm at dusk. No theme, either. It's a stormy night on the night before Halloween. An ambulance is coming to pick up Michael Myers for transfer back to Smith's Grove. Michael has been in a coma for 10 years on account of being blown up and melted the last time we saw him. Finally, the theme kicks in when they put him in the ambulance. Weirdly, he doesn't look all that burned from what we can see of his arms. This dumb fucking doctor mentions that Michael has a niece living in Haddonfield, which makes Michael wake up. He sticks his fucking thumb through the doctor's forehead. Like, wtf. CUT TO. A young girl staring at an ambulance across the street. At 4 AM. This is Jamie, Laurie Strode's daughter, and Michael's niece. She's been adopted by the Caruthers family, but is very worried about them loving her as a real part of the family. Her adopted sister, Rachel, reassures her. Laurie used to babysit Rachel. It's been 11 months since Laurie and Jamie's father died.
When Jamie gets back to sleep, she has a nightmare of a giant dude in a white mask and mechanic outfit trying to kill her. HOW FAMILIAR! It's Halloween in Haddonfield, so expect people to die pretty soon. Rachael gets forced to babysit Jamie tonight, having to cancel a date and all of her future relationships. Jamie overhears this. "Sorry I ruined everything." God damn. This is a little girl who just lost her parents not even a year ago, who is an insomniac, and is worried that her foster family doesn't love her like she's a real member of the family. And then she hears her new sister talking about how she basically ruined her life by having to babysit her. Brutal.
Loomis goes to the facility Michael was being held in, pretty fucking pissed that he wasn't notified. He walks with a cane, wears gloves, and half of his face is quite scarred. I'm not sure Donald Pleasence knew how to use a cane. He goes to the scene where the ambulance crashed. Michael's body is nowhere to be found. "You're talking about him as if he's a human being. That part of him died years ago." Hold up. Jamie saw that ambulance outside of her house, but it was actually wrecked and destroyed? I'm supposed to believe there was a random ambulance with the same paint job and logos parked in front of her house at 4 AM 4 hours away?
Loomis is heading to Haddonfield, and what do you know, Loomis and Michael have stopped at the same gas station. Michael kills a mechanic and gets a new suit. He also kills a waitress off screen. Then he and Loomis have their first face to face in 10 years. Loomis pleads with Michael to not go to Haddonfield, and to take him instead of killing more innocent people. He fires off a few rounds, but Michael just kind of vanishes, then steals a tow truck, which creates a spark that creates a ridiculous explosion, taking out Loomis' car and the electricity pole. The explosion was so big it literally made Loomis' car do a barrel roll. Also shout out to the Hitchcockian rack focus shot.
Wow, these kids at school are fucking awful, making fun of Jamie for having a crazy uncle, and then picking on her for her fucking mom dying. "Jamie's an orphan, Jamie's an orphan!" Jesus Christ. Kids are cruel, but that's some next level young cuntery. Jamie decides she wants to go trick or treating like everyone else, so Rachael and her friend Lindsay head to the discount mart, which is having a costume sale. Brady, Rachael's boyfriend, works there, so she's a bit apprehensive to go in. Inside, some dipshit tries to hit on some hot girl that works there. Before he can even get a word out, "Fuck off, Wade". LOL. Looky there, there's a random tow truck parked outside of the store. Jamie naturally gravitates towards a little clown costume. That shit runs in the family. Brady doesn't take the cancellation of the date very well. You know what else isn't taken well? Jamie hallucinating seeing young Michael in the clown costume (despite looking nothing like the kid or the costume from the original scene), and then actual Michael putting a new mask on and scaring her. Wait. The mask he put on was a random white mask at the store, but it's the same one Jamie saw in her dreams. How the fuck does that work? WHAT ARE THE ODDS? Oh, and by the way, the new mask fucking sucks. It looks like a bootleg twice removed from the original mask. Just straight garbage. Somehow, despite being in a coma for 10 years, Michael is actually BIGGER than he was before. Quite a bit taller and wider. I'm willing to overlook that he can move at all after a 10 year coma, but somehow growing in that time is pretty wonky.
Loomis hitchhikes, being picked up by a wacky priest. "You're huntin' it, ain't ya?" "You can't kill damnation, mister." "Oh, you're a pilgrim, alright." This is one of my favorite scenes in the movie. It's short, somewhat comical, but really gets across that the Michael/Loomis relationship is much bigger than just a doctor/patient thing. Michael isn't just some killer. He's a force of nature, a force of evil, which once in a while comes into focus as a tangible entity. The personification of Armageddon. And Loomis is seeking that shape, that force, and ultimately, his own death. Loomis sees Michael as Doomsday, and looks forward to the end. It's really wonderful.
Rachael and Jamie go trick or treating, which gives Michael time to rummage through the house, finding Jamie's box of Laurie photos. Michael then follows them around covertly. Loomis finally makes it to Haddonfield, telling the police that Michael is back and coming for Jamie. Rachael sees Brady with the hot girl from the store, who happens to be the sheriff's daughter. SMOOTH MOVE, ACE. Jamie goes off with a group of kids. A news report tells all people in Haddonfield to be off the streets, and all businesses to close. No one answers at the police station, so a group of drunk rednecks from the bar mount up and head there to check it out. Surely nothing will go wrong with that.
At the same time, Michael takes out a transformer, which knocks out power to most of the city. Or at least the neighborhood. He also killed Jamie's dog like a cunt. Michael killing dogs in multiple movies is probably the most evil he actual gets to me. Piece of shit. Is there anything in a movie that so clearly gets "evil fuck head" across more than killing a dog? Jamie is now separated from the other kids, just kind of wandering around the streets by herself. As is Rachel. Doesn't seem safe for either. They find each other, thankfully. Then the sheriff and Loomis find them. And then about 6 Michaels show up. BUT WHO WAS MICHAEL?!?!? Weirdly, some of these fake Michael masks actually look better than the real Michael mask for this movie. SWERVE! It was just kids playing a joke, but the real Michael was actually there.
The rednecks basically form a mob and go around town shooting at anything that seems suspicious. Now, they're drunk. And Rednecks. And just shooting at shit. And the Sheriff lets them do it because that's all he has after we see that Michael had done a number at the station. And these mother fuckers kill an innocent person.
Sheriff Meeker takes Loomis and the girls back to his house and lock it down. "Oh yeah, I catch you groping my daughter, I'll use that shotgun on you. You understand?" Fuck that shit head up, Sheriff. Somehow, despite living in Haddonfield, where even elementary school kids know that Jamie is Michael's niece, her adopted sister's boyfriend not only didn't know about the relation, but also seemed to not even know about Michael at all. Now that all the primary characters are stuck in one spot, they all get to work out their issues with each other. Then Loomis decides to go wait at the Carruthers house by himself. Sheriff Meeker has to leave to check on those god damn rednecks. This whole "get to a safe place and lock it down" seems to not be working very well. OBVIOUSLY, Michael shows up and starts killing. First to go is the hot girl, who he kills with a shotgun. Not by shooting with it. No. He uses it like a sword and stabs her with it. The fuck? Lol. The other cop got twisted into a pretzel off screen. And then Brady gets his face/neck snapped. Good. Fuck him. Dude was an asshole from his first scene, and I'm not sad to see him go. Jamie and Rachael make their way up to the attic, then to the roof. Rachael ends up falling off the roof, apparently dying. Jamie runs off, and wacky ass Loomis happens to run into her. I thought he was going to the Carruthers house? He takes her to the school. For some reason.
Michael immediately follows. He might have been there before they made it there, actually. Rachael shows up OUTTA NOWHERE to save Jamie. Loomis got tossed through a window. The rednecks show up and take the girls, but don't bother to check on Loomis. Just left his old ass there. Jamie and Rachael didn't even seem to mind. But get this: Michael somehow was hiding under the truck the whole time. He pops up to kill all the rednecks, leaving him on top of the cab as Rachael drives. She slams on the breaks, sending him flying off. He gets up, completely chill, so she punches it and runs him over. Would you believe it, he's STILL ALIVE! Jamie touches him, which gets him back to life. The cavalry of police and rednecks shoot the fuck out of him, which knocks him down some mine shaft or some shit.
Later that night, as Jamie has her bath water run, she grabs a pair of scissors and stabs her foster mom. All done in a first person tracking shot like the original. The movie ends with Jamie holding the bloody scissors as Loomis scream NOOAAAAAOOOOOOWWWHHHHH.
A solid return to form for Michael, even though his mask and body looked like shit. No idea how someone didn't look at that mask and say "no fucking way". Apparently they tried a mask that looked similar to the original, but the director didn't like it. Well, fuck him, because the mask they actually picked was garbage. This is far more in line with "modern" slashers at the time, even more so than 2. You can definitely sense the lack of John Carpenter's influence, especially when it comes to the music and story. The music part is especially weird to me, since Alan Howarth did it and had worked with Carpenter on Halloween 2 and 3, Escape From New York, Christine, Big Trouble In Little China, Prince of Darkness, and They Live, yet didn't capture the Carpenter feel even when doing already established Halloween themes. It was just kind of a traditional horror movie score, with the established Carpenter themes being the same but slightly sped up.
Danielle Harris was great. Probably the best child actor in a horror movie ever, with her only competition being Miko Hughes, of Pet Cemetery and New Nightmare fame. The idea of killing of Michael, but passing on his curse to his young niece seems like a great premise to take the series in a new direction, while still being connected to the Myers mythos. Shame that the follow up dropped the concept all together in favor of bring back Michael from the seemingly dead. Again. This movie was also missing Dean Cundey, the DP who was just as important as John Carpenter as making Halloween the classic it is. He worked on 2 and 3. By the time this movie was made, he had moved on to mainstream movies like Back To The Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and was way too big to be doing a 3rd sequel in the Halloween series, especially considering John Carpenter was no longer involved. It really shows, as this movie was lit and shot like any generic slasher movie from the 80s, having almost none of the great shots and framing the series was known for up to this point, except when being homages to the earlier movies or Hitchcock.
Still, it is one of the better, if not the best sequels in the series. A real shame how the next two turned out.