Classic horror

HALLOWEEN 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

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SLASH’S SHITFACED SATURDAY

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HALLOWEEN 4 : The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

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Yes, I understand that the public “rules”, & they were clamoring for a real sequel, a fucking bone fide continuation of the Michael Myers legend & saga. Well, it took six years to work out the details, to hammer out the script, set up a production team, but this interesting film did emerge out of the quagmire of egos & conflicts.

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In 1986, still stinging from the ass-reaming he got over HALLOWEEN III (1982), John Carpenter & Debra Hill wrote a new screenplay for this film. They wrote a deep psychological thriller, embracing the Freddy Kreuger school of horror, tracing how the events of the first two films, the 16 deaths, had affected the residents of Haddonfield. Michael Myers haunted their nightmares.

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The folks at the Cannon Group rejected the script, wanting instead a hardcore Slasher movie; a money maker. Carpenter & Hill threw up their hands in frustration,  & quickly bailed out of the project, selling their rights to the series to producer Moustapha Akkad, who had been there with investment capital from the inception.

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So this project moved forward without John Carpenter at all. I wonder if secretly he hoped it would fail without he or Debra Hill?

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HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS (1988) 

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The film was directed by Dwight H. Little @ 88 minutes. So far all four films of the Michael Myers franchise had been directed by different helmsmen; this often is a pattern; usually new directors work for less cash than a director already used to the dictates & pitfalls of the story line. Little did a lot of research on the history of Halloween in preparation for this job.

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D.H. Little has directed 43 film projects since 1985, the bulk of it being for the lucrative television industry. His feature films include BLOODSTONE (1988), THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1989), FREE WILLY 2 (1995), DEEP BLUE (2001), & ANACONDAS (2004).

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The movie was filmed in Utah, in Rush Valley & Salt Lake City. The film looks good with lush colorful streets & suburbs matching the CA locations of the previous films.

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It had a budget of 5 million dollars, & it grossed 17.7 million domestically. I wonder how much of that were the buy-out costs to Carpenter & Hill? The body count was 19, counting the death of another dog; the third canine killed in the series so far.

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Taglines:  10 years ago he changed the face of Halloween. Tonight he’s back.

                 It’s going to be one hell of a family reunion.

                  Horror has returned to Haddonfield. 

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The musical score was done, once more by Alan Howarth, who manages to find some diversity in the synthesizer-driven score without losing the sound & beat of the original John Carpenter composition.

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The script was written by Alan B. McElroy, who paid no attention what-so-ever to the original Carpenter material. This film screenplay was his first one; others since then include RAPID FIRE (1992), SPAWN (1992), WRONG TURN (2003), WRONG TURN 2, 3, 4, & 5–the Video Games, THE MARINE (2006), & TEKKEN (2010). 

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The cinematography was done by Peter Lyons Collister, who has lensed 42 films since 1985, including AVENGING ANGEL (1985), EYE OF THE TIGER (1986), THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1989), POETIC JUSTICE (1993), THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS (1998), & THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (2005).

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THE HALLOWEEN BABE GALLERY

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Our lead off Babe is the delightfully buxom Kathleen Kinmont who played the Sheriff’s hot-slut daughter, Kelly Meeker.

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Those of  you with perfect tit-recall will remember that she played the Bride of ReAnimator in 1989, which I reviewed earlier

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right here on HH; never forget a pair of tits, I say.

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Our lead actress is Ellie Cornell who plays Rachel Carruthers.

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She does perform a shower scene in the film,

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but WTF, if you look closely at the blurred nudity behind the opaque shower curtain, it looks like she’s wearing a flesh-colored body suit;

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tut-tut, dear Ellie; I call bullshit. Why not use a body double so that we can get some kind of a tit-shot out of the deal?

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Petite Danielle Harris was only 10 years old when she made her film debut in this movie.

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But you know that I would seek out any tit-shots of her in later films.

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I was able to sniff out some passable shots of her tiny tits froma couple of other movies; thanks, Danielle, the gallery needs all the breast images it can find.

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Some of her latest shots show that she is all grown up now; even her breasts seem bigger; just saying.

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SYNOPSIS:

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Giving us a sense of reality, this film opens ten years after the original night in Haddonfield in 1978. We find some orderlies loading up Michael Myers, who has been in a coma for the decade since his killing rampage the “Night He Came Back”.

Originally the movie was to open in the  Haddonfield Memorial Hospital, showing us that the devastating explosion spared both Michael & Dr. Loomis, but they opted instead to give no explication at all. They are going to transfer Myers, on another rainy night to Smith’s Grove Sanitarium.

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The head honcho, Dr. Hoffman, seems eager to facilitate this transfer while Dr. Loomis is absent. There is no explanation for the transfer.

In one of the other drafts, Laurie Strode & her ten year old daughter were alive, & Michael goes after both of them, sister & niece, but Jamie Lee Curtis was getting some good parts in films at that point, and was “too busy” to revisit Haddonfield. So, on the ambulance ride, the orderlies discuss the fact that Laurie & her husband had died in a car crash years before, & her daughter had been adopted by the Carruthers family. (This must of have presented an interesting plot problem for the producers who brought Laurie back to life for HALLOWEEN H20; Part VII (1998); can’t  hardly wait to see how they managed that.)

Of course the mere mention of a living niece awoke Michael Myers from his coma (if he ever had been in one, for his stillness & silence had been, & was diabolical legend).

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He kills the male orderly by pressing a thumb into his forehead, crushing the skull; then he jumps the female orderly, killing her & the driver. We have to assume that he is now headed to find his niece, Jamie (originally called Brittany, but becoming Jamie for nostalgic reasons).

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Cut back to Dr. Loomis returning to find out that Michael Myers had been transfered. He is scarred on his face from the decade-old explosion, & limps, using a cane. He restates that this was a disastrous mistake, that Myers was “evil on two legs”; reminding them & us that Myers “is not human”. Dr. Loomis, in his federal marked car starts off in pursuit.

Cut to a garage on the rural highway, with an adjoining cafe. A mechanic is under a car calling for his assistant to hand him a wrench. When there is no reply he scoots out on his creeper to find Michael waiting for him.

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Cut to Loomis finding the overturned ambulance, with the three bodies in it. He calls it in, then drives on a few miles to the garage/cafe. He gases up his vehicle, then looks for the mechanic to pay for it. He finds the mechanic strangled & hanging in a winch-chain. It occurs to us that of course Michael needed to stop here to get a pair of his trademark coveralls. We assume he does not have his new white mask yet.

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Loomis rushes out of the garage, & into the cafe. He find the phone lines cut & ripped out, & the waitress dead behind the counter. (We say yeah, Myers needed to pick up a couple of butcher knives too.)

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Heading back to his car, a tow truck crashes through one of the garage door & smashes into one of the gas pumps as it whizzes past Loomis, igniting the gasoline & blowing up both the garage & Loomis’ car. The explosion fries a phone pole too, bringing down the power lines; preventing Loomis from being able to call ahead to warn the sheriff of Haddonfield that Myers is headed his way. He limps off without his cane, trying unsuccessfully to hitch a ride into town. He never uses a cane again for the rest of the film, but he does limp like a motherfucker for most of it.

He is finally picked up by a traveling preacher, who is raving about evil & hellfire, patterning his performance & character look after Christopher Lloyd’s Reverend Jim in the TV show TAXI. This odd little superfluous scene gives Loomis a chance to talk about the nature of evil, & stare frightened out of the windshield toward town.

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It is said that the director had to feed actor Carmen Filpi all his lines, because he was so nervous he kept blanking on the dialogue. Pleasence must have really enjoyed that.

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Cut to the Carruther’s home in Haddonfield. Little Jamie is introduced on the couch staring out into the rain outside in the street. For a moment, we clearly see the ambulance that Michael had been in parked across the street; then it disappears; suggesting that Michael’s niece has some kind of a psychic link to him. Parents Richard & Darlene are off to a Halloween adult’s party, & since their regular babysitter has called in sick, they inform their 17 year old daughter, Rachel, that she must break her date with boyfriend, Brady, & stay home with her step- sister Jamie.

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Rachel bitches about it, & Jamie overhears this; rushing to her room with tears in  her eyes; sulking with her stuffed dolls & dog, Sundae.

Rachel sees this as a fine time to take a shower, & we get the old squint-our-fucking eyes through an opaque shower curtain; but old sharp-eyed Slash notices that Miss Ellie is wearing a nude bathing suit behind the curtain. God damn, that is really irritating; again folks, just hire a body double, cut close ups of the real actress into terrific fully nude, & tasty tit-shots, & get a grip on what a real Slasher movie is all about; tits & gore, for fuck’s sake–everybody know that!

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Jamie reflects on how the other kids at school chide her & bully her because everyone seems to be aware of the fact that Michael Myers is her uncle. She has had several nightmares about the Boogieman, not realizing that this was the image of Myers.

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The next day is going to be Halloween. At first Jamie does not want to participate, but after school, with the promise of ice cream later, she lets Rachel take her to the local drug/variety store to pick out her costume early on the next day.

Of course, Rachel’s boyfriend works at the store, as does the sheriff’s hot pants slut daughter, Kelly. Rachel goes off into the storeroom, & makes out with Brady before she tells him she has to break their date for that night. He does not take the news well.

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Meanwhile, Jamie is left alone & ironically she chooses a red & white clown costume that is identical to the one Michael Myers wore when he killed his sister 26 year before. We see several white masks that look like the one Michael favors.

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Then in mirrors, in glances, we think we see Michael himself lurking behind her; but she is impervious to it, & heads off to find Rachel.

Cut to Halloween night, Rachel is out with Jamie trick-or-treating. She comes to the Sheriff’s house, & Rachel sees that Kelly answers the door wearing only a skimpy t-shirt & underwear.

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Then she sees Brady in the house. While she is dealing with the emotional shock of that betrayal by Brady, Jamie wanders off with a group of other costumed children.

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Cut to Dr. Loomis arriving in town, going to the police station & convincing Sheriff Meeer that Michael Myers is indeed back in Haddonfield, & they need to hunt him down immediately. Loomis gets in the sheriff’s car, while other patrols join the search.

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Cut to Michael Myers getting busy, no more fucking around. He goes out to the nearest power station, murdering the worker on duty,  tossing him like a limp rag doll high up into a snarl of live wires, frying him like a giant mutant squirrel on the hot lines, shorting out the entire power station. The lights (partially it seems) go out in town.

Cut to Loomis patrolling with Sheriff Meeker. They think they see Myers over by some bushes (shades of HALLOWEEN 2). They stop & get out with guns drawn; but then they see a second, then a third Michael Myers, all tall, wearing coveralls & the MM mask. The 3 teenagers remove their masks & run off laughing.

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Cut to a deputy telling a tavern owner that all businesses have to shut down, & everyone needs to go home. The beer bellied rednecks decide Fuck that, and they pull out their shotguns & hunting rifles, & go out  hunting for Michael Myers themselves. They think they have him cornered in the city park, and they shoot into the bushes like 37 times; of course, they soon discover they have killed one of the fake teenagers who was impersonating Myers. They go to the police station & find that Michael has already been there, & has single-handedly slaughtered everyone in the station.

Cut to Rachel searching for Jamie, who comes onto the real Michael Myers, who chases her; while running away, she finds Jamie, & they are both in turn are found by Sheriff Meeker & Loomis. They pick up the girls & head toward the Sheriff’s home; already aware that Myers has murdered over ten deputies & staff.

Cut to Meeker’s home where Brady & Kelly are getting busy making out in front of a fireplace. Kelly pulls off her t-shirt, and her big breasts nearly burst out of her white lacy bra.

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I think I have died & gone to heaven,”  young Brady says as she takes her bra off, & we see a tenth of a second shot of her left nipple.  But then we hear the Sheriff drive up, & the kids have to scramble to get their clothes back on.

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The Sheriff drives up, & Loomis with Rachel & Jamie are joined by the deputy, summoned by the Sheriff. They begin to board up the house for protection. Even with the phone lines dead, the Sheriff has a short wave set up, & he uses it to call in the State Police as reinforcements.

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He sends Brady up to the attic to board up those windows. Then Meeker posts his deputy with a shotgun behind the locked front door, as he & Loomis slip back outside to hunt for Myers.

But then we see an open unattended window somewhere in the house, & we know damn well that Michael has gained access, & is already in the house with them. Myers jumps the deputy, who has of course, dozed off. We know the deputy was killed even though the murder was not shown.

Kelly comes downstairs, covering her bra-less nipples with a man’s flannel shirt. Rachel admonishes her for messing around with Brady. Kelly laughs & replies that Rachel had better learn to give men what they want, or she will never hook a man. Rachel goes back upstairs.

She pours a cup of coffee, & takes it to the deputy, who appears to be sitting in his chair holding onto the shotgun. Myers gets up & turns around just as Kelly screams, seeing the deputy’s body in the shadows. He rushes her unexpectedly fast for old Mr. Shuffle,

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& he impales her with the shotgun through her body, through the door; another fucking fancy impaling for Michael, leaving Kelly hanging there with her trophy tits dangling.

Rachel stumbles onto the carnage, then rushes back upstairs looking for Jamie, who is nowhere to be found. Brady joins her on the landing & tells her to go find Jamie, while he, the man will face off with Michael. All Brady has for a weapon his his fists & a hammer.

Rachel does find Jamie in a closet, but by that time Michael has confronted Brady; whose hammer is bitch-slapped out of his hands. Brady is a big strapping young man, & he connects three powerful punches to Myer’s face. Michael is not fazed.

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He grabs Brady’s right fist during the next punch, & we hear all the bones in the hand being snapped like kindling. He grabs Brady’s face & while lifting him off the floor, crushes his skull, killing him.

Michael then turns his murderous attention to the girls, who flee before him up into the attic. Rachel breaks out the boarded up window, & she & Jamie crawl out onto the roof. Rachel struggles with Jamie on her backto reach the peak of the roof. Michael comes out of the window, & quite nimbly pursues them.

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Rachel wraps Jamie in a wire cord & begins lowering her toward the ground 20 feet below, but Michael gets to her first, & she drops Jamie, who landed safely.

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Dangling along the gutter, Michael stomps her fingers, & she plunges down onto the ground, lying still as if dead.

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Before Jamie could untangle herself, Michael appears (the sombitch can move fast as lightning when he wants to it seems). Jamie runs off into the night, running screaming down the street, calling for help; no one responds until she bumps into the stalwart but gimpy Dr. Loomis. He has a gun, but decides to run into the nearby elementary school with Jamie.

Michael calmly, doggedly pursues them. Loomis shoots Myers for the umpteenth time, having no apparent effect. Michael grabs the Doc & tosses him through a glass door.

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(Michael is wearing a different mask, one with bleached white blond hair; WTF kind of poor matching shot & shoddy editing is this?).

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Jamie is on her own, & while fleeing, she, of course, trips & falls down a flight of stairs. Michael catches up to her, this time wearing the proper mask with the dark black hair. Before Michael can kill his niece, Rachel appears, quite alive, & sprays him square in the face with the powder from a fire extinguisher.

Outside the fleeing girls find Sheriff Meeker & several members of the vigilante group who have responded to the burglar alarm.  Before going in after Myers, the Sheriff tasks three of the men to drive Rachel & Jamie to safety in the next town in one of their pick up trucks.

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While out on the road, Michael, who has hidden on the underside of the truck, crawls out the back, & pulls himself up over the tailgate. He kills both men with ease, tossing them off the speeding truck, their bodies hitting the blacktop like discarded sides of beef. Then he leaps onto the cab, & breaks the driver’s window, attacking him. Rachel grabs the wheel while Michael with one hand snaps the driver’s neck.

Rachel, in desperation, pushes the dead driver out of the door, & begins driving the truck herself. Michael is punching her in the face & neck, causing the truck to lurch violently, as she tries to shake the killer off the cab roof. He sticks to the cab like a rogue tick on a coon hound. Finally it occur to her to slam on the brakes, & this sudden stops breaks his grip as he is thrown forward onto the highway.

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“Die, you son of a bitch!” Rachel screams, as she gunned her engine, lurching forward & running him down, catapulting him 25 feet into the air as he landed close to an abandoned mine. ( In the original cut, Rachel ran over his slasher ass five times; then that was reduced to three times, then that was edited down to once. I, for one, would have liked to see all five run overs).

The Sheriff arrives with some of the state troopers & some of the vigilantes. Rachel & Jamie get out of the pick-up & join them. Before anyone realizes it, Jamie has walked up to Michael’s body (we all groan, for we know what will be fucking coming next, right?). Jamie suddenly more fascinated than frightened, reaches down & touches his hand.

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Immediately, he opens his eyes, & stands up. After an awkward “Oh shit!” moment, the pissed off posse began firing their riot rifles & hold-out Glocks, .44s, & .45 at him–bang, bang, bam, bang, twang, boom, muzzle-flashes, bam, bam, bang–like 100 rounds pumped & pumped into Meyers propelling Michael backwards until he falls over into the open mine shaft; and is presumed dead; no shit.

Jamie & Rachel are driven home, where they are greeted by Darlene & Richard, along with Dr. Loomis, all consoling them after their frightening ordeal. Stepmother, Darlene goes to the upstairs bathroom, & takes Jamie with her. She begins drawing a nice hot bath for the little darling–when WHAM, suddenly we are looking through the two eye holes in Jamie’s clown mask, ala Michael Myers with his sister. We see small hands picking up a long pair of scissors.

Next we hear Darlene screaming, & Loomis, Sheriff Meeker, Rachel & Richard start up the stairs. The synthesizer sound track is cranked loud, whining like a pooch being butt-fucked by a badger.

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Jamie appears at the top of the stairs, mask still on, covered in fresh blood, holding the blood-smeared dripping scissors in one hand.

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Dr. Loomis begins weeping, crying, “Oh no, God no, fuck no!”,

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while stepfather Richard, Sheriff Meeker, & stepsister Rachel stare in utter horror & stunned disbelief. Madness runs deep in that family! Roll the final credits.

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ROTTEN TOMATOES rated the film rather harshly; giving us only 29% Critic’s Approval, with a workable 54% Audience Approval.

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Caryn James of the NEW YORK TIMES wrote: “This seems to be the latest stage in some curious evolutionary pattern–the Slasher species keeps proliferating while getting weaker at the same time.”

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Richard Harrington of the WASHINGTON POST wrote: “HALLOWEEN 4 is very much a cheap knockoff of its prototype–but not half as visceral.”

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Tim Brayton of ANTAGONY & ECSTACY wrote: “Though this is a Slasher movie at all points, it also is an atypically intelligent example of the form; a quantum leap better than its two immediate predecessors.” 

Eric D. Snider wrote: “Although Part 4 is a lot better than Part 3 was, watching it is still like being bitten in the retina by fire ants.”

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Jeremiah Kipp of ToxicUniverse.com wrote: “The first half of the film is better than any fourth sequel in a Slasher Flick franchise deserves to be.”

MY RATING:

Damn, boy howdy, it was good to have Michael Myers back in town again.

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This time he was played by George P. Wilbur, a 6’2” stuntman whose worked in 17 films. He is a bit skinny, so they had to bulk him up with hockey pads to make him appear to be more menacing.

They shot the movie in like 41 days, but it was Spring in Utah, so fake leaves had to be created, and stand-in squash had to be painted up to be pumpkins. In the original script, Sheriff Meeker was killed in a battle with Michael in the basement near a furnace, & the house caught fire; heightened the rooftop chase later of Rachel & Jamie. Also, in the original script, it was Rachel who went upstairs to take a bath, & to change her blood-stained clothes–so it would have been Rachel who got snuffed by Jamie.

The writer, Alan B. McElroy, wrote the script in just 11 days, beating the latest writer’s strike by one day. He made a cameo appearance in the movie as one of the state troopers at the ambulance crash site in the beginning of the story.

The bottom line for me is that producer/patron Moustapha Akkad had the wherewithal to buy pussy John Carpenter out of his rights to the franchise, & has single-handedly put the series back on track.

Michael Myers has been shot point blank at least 144 times in three movies. He will go into a coma, but he will not die. What more could be asked of a Slasher villain? We almost had a bone-A-fried nude scene in this gem with the sexy Kathleen Kinmont pointing the way to tit-shot bliss. In post-production, they did have to reshoot a couple of scenes to increase the blood & gore factor, but at least Michael did a lot more slashing, & a hell of a lot less strangling–& that gets a hip-hip-hurrah from the old Slashman reviewer. All of the Reviewer Family here at HH can not ever get enough tit/booby/jugs shots, & there never is something called “too much gore.”.

I would rate this movie, in the fucking teeth of the 71% negative critical reviews, as a solid 7 stars out of HH ranking for 10 as the peak. Ellie Cornell may be a bit flat-chested, or was when younger, but she is a good actress, and little Danielle Harris was excellent.

So now we approach the halfway mark in this series, as I screen HALLOWEEN 5: THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS (1989) for next time. Once again, it will have a new director; this time Dominique Otherin-Gerard. Dr. Loomis, Rachel, & Jamie will all return for more cutting fun. I hear stepmother Darlene survived, Michael went into a coma, little Jamie is put in a kid’s psych hospital, & Dr. Loomis treats her bizarre connection to Uncle Mick; which is tough since she has been mute since the year before when she did her clown imitation of Myers; sounds cool; see you soon, ye HH horde of garrilous ghoulies.

2 replies »

  1. You know, it seems odd as hell to me, that although we get lots of hits over here at HH, the comments are as rare as tits on a two-by-four. What’s up with that? All of our reviews are raw, audacious, perched to please some & piss off many more. Well, rest assured, we are all both confident & crazed enough that this shit will keep coming square at you regardless.

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