Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers

Doctor, spare me the speech
★★
☆☆☆☆
Released: 
1988
Director: 
Dwight H. Little
Starring: 
Donald Pleasance, Ellie Cornell, Danielle Harris, Sasha Jenson
The Setup: 
Michael Myers sets out to kill Laurie Strode's last living relative.
Discussion: 

Having watched the Halloween remake, the original, and Halloween II in close succession, this one was on it way to me before I realized I was pretty much ready to give this whole Halloween thing a rest. This movie is supposed to be the one that gets the series back on track after Halloween III, which had nothing to do with the story of the first two and failed at the box office, while also re-introducing the big guy and trying to find something for him to do. This is also considered one of the better of the sequels, which I find hard to believe, as it is total and utter crap. I can only imagine how bad the others must be.

So it's ten years after the last sequel. Michael is being transferred from one sanitarium to another, which naturally must occur in the dead of night during a driving rainstorm. Can't they schedule these things for like after lunch or something? Anyway, the rather crater-faced ambulance attendant puts Michael in the back, then barks "Locked and loaded!" to which the other attendant grunts "Let's Roll!" So Michael's laying there like "Ah well, no reason to go on, I have no relatives left to kill, may as well just lay here and catch a few Z's" when the ambulance attendants mention that he does have a relative, a niece, and he springs into action immediately, killing the two attendants and stealing the ambulance. He's found new meaning and purpose in life! This should be a lesson to all of us.

Our scene now shifts to Haddonfield, where we meet 8-year-old Jamie [Get it? Get it?], awake at 4am. She's all mentally tormented because she's staying at the house of her aunt or someone, and she accuses her older step-sister of not loving her because she won't say that Jamie IS her sister. So she's nuts. They finally get her back into her room, where she digs in her closet and finds a picture of Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode—supposedly her mother, and supposedly now dead. This is primarily why Halloween H20 had to deviate from the series after Halloween II. Anyway, little Jamie has Michael in her room and he comes after her, trapping her in the closet, but—it was all a dream! Kid really is nuts. If her adoptive family were to ask me, I'd say it's about time to buy a one-way cross-country bus ticket and some powerful sedatives.

So it's the next morning and we're better introduced to Rachel, played by Ellie Cornell. She's looking forward to going out with her semi-BF Brady that night, but then gets stuck having to babysit Jamie. Rachel bitches, which Jamie overhears, causing her to come in and spew guilt in every direction, with her "It's all my fault! I'm sorry I ruined everything for you!" Well, why don't you go kill yourself, then? We then have to have some tender bonding between Rachel and Jamie that is very poorly acted, but barely saved by its sheen of cheesy 80s teen melodrama.

We then join Dr. Loomis, poor, sullied Donald Pleasance, doing his best to ensure that he will never be offered any other part at any point in the future. He's got a big rubber scar on his face and walks with a cane because he was supposedly thrown from the explosion at the end of II, although if you watch that movie he was obviously incinerated. He starts in with his "He's not a man! He is evil itself!" battle-axes, and I was in hearty agreement with this other guy when he says "Doctor, spare me the speech." Loomis is blathering about how Michael this and Michael that, then finally gets in his car and hot-foots it for Haddonfield. On the way he just HAPPENS to stop at the very same gas station that Michael stopped at, where the once ruthlessly-efficient killer now takes time to uselessly suspend his victims in chains from the ceiling. And WHY does he do this? Is it the homicidal maniac equivalent of decorating? Maybe this guy just needs a suitable outlet. Cross-stitching? Model airplanes? Anyway, Loomis, standing between a photograph of Lincoln on one side and a cartoon drawing "portrait" on the other, sees Michael, talks to him a little bit, then goes outside, where suddenly Michael bursts through the front door of the garage, and Loomis turns action hero, jumping and shooting and getting thrown through the air. I think it would have been awesome if Michael stole his car and left him abandoned there at the station, like in the first movie.

So back at school we see that Jamie is made fun of by her classmates. Rachel and her very 80s friend Lizzie pick her up, and they go to the Halloween store, since Jamie has now decided she wants to go out after all. At the Halloween store we meet this "cool" dork with really stupid long hair, Wade, and Brady in the flesh, who is a very generic 80s babe. He and Rachel make out right on the sales floor of the store—something that was frowned upon during my retail days—but you know, times change. Careful fans of the series will no doubt notice that Jamie's costume is almost an exact replica of the one Michael wore when he butchered his sister in the first film. So the littlest nutcase has a vision that Michael [who she has never seen, btw] is after her in the Halloween store, causing her to freak out and break a mirror. By the way, various people have been getting butchered along the way in here, but their deaths are so unremarkable and non-essential to the story that I haven't mentioned them.

SPOILERS > > >
So soon enough night falls and Rachel's mom and dad go out and she takes Jamie out trick or treating. First we find out that Brady—who was rather inappropriately pissed-off that Rachel couldn't make it that night, wasted no time in finding some other floozy to polish his knob. Then there's some stalking, and we see that the local rednecks have sprung into action to bring this Myers character down once and for all. Rachel and Jamie finally team up with Loomis and the police, but I love how they just leave the two—including Jamie, the ONLY person they KNOW is the ultimate target of Michael's rampage—in the car unattended while they go explore the Myers house.

Meanwhile, Rachel ends up having a sass-off with Kelly, the girl who was getting porked by Brady, about how she should keep her hands off, and Kelly, quite rightly I think, says Rachel should "Wise up to what men want," but all she gets for her attempt to get Rachel to face the realities of life is a vat of coffee poured over her head. Oh, and a shotgun through the chest, a few scenes later. Anyway, it's all too boring to go into, but eventually there's this whole showdown on the roof, during which Rachel screams at Michael: "Leave us alone!" as if he's just going to say "Oh? You don't want me here? So sorry for the intrusion." Finally Michael is rendered incapacitated for a minute, during which time Jamie, for some reason known only to the screenwriters, goes over, kneels by him and takes his hand. What, she alone feels for the plight of homicidal maniacs? Then there's a last little surprise that I'll leave you to discover on your own, although I will inform you that I understand they immediately retreat from its implications at the beginning of Halloween 5.
< < < SPOILERS END

I thought it was just absolute crap. I mean, it is watchable, it has that going for it, but any sense of having a story to tell is gone, and it's just straight-on cash-in time. Halloween III had MUCH more reason to exist than this movie. Furthermore, I just don't really want to see an 8-year-old girl be terrorized. Okay, maybe for a little bit, but not for a whole film. I also thought both Jamie and Rachel were fairly dreadful actresses, aside from their characters being insipid. Danielle Harris, who played Jamie, played Annie in the Rob Zombie remake. The horrid Ellie Cornell was also in House of the Dead and House of the Dead TWO, by the way. Infer from that what you must. The director, Dwight H. Little, went on to direct Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home.

There is a little documentary on the disc, which I watched before finally turning it off in disgust. It is notable for praising the aspects of the film that are in fact the least worthy of praise. We hear about what wonderful performances the two lead kids give, the PLAUSIBILITY of the plot, and the INNOVATIVE FILMMAKING TECHNIQUES of the director. I think that's about the time I just shut the damn thing off. Ugh… ugh, ugh, ugh.

Should you watch it: 

I'll bet your life isn't in that bad a shape that you'd need to watch this.