They killed Michael off in Halloween II, they ignored his existence in Season of the Witch… but he would obviously return, because the golden rule of Hollywood when it comes to horror flicks is: never stop a franchise until there’s no more profit.
As a consequence, in 1988 Halloween IV came out, appropriately subtitled The Return of Michael Myers. Here we follow Mr Myers who, after conventionally having survived fire in the second instalment, comes back to Haddonfield to kill his 7-year-old niece Jamie (Danielle Harris). Dr Loomis, who as well survived the final fight in Halloween II, is after him, trying to stop the ‘evil that walks on two legs’.
Although I sounded quite negative in my introduction and I remember hating on Halloween IV a lot, I must admit that, upon rewatching it for this review, I quite like this slasher flick.
Mostly, it’s the cat-and-mouse game between Loomis (played by the always charming Donald Pleasance) and Myers that intrigued me. Return of Michael Myers follows pretty much the same formula as any other slasher flick – so, if you are not into slashers, you shouldn’t care for this one either – but adds to that the relationship between the very disturbed Michael and the obsessed psychiatrist who tried to cure him as a kid.
As a slasher flick, in Halloween IV we get to see all the obligatory slasher-esque tropes: sequences shot from the killer’s point of view, discovery of dead bodies, silly jump-scares, the villain’s figure cast in the shadow and a good dose of very well-made practical effects. Thus, this is not a very innovative or creative film, but it’s entertaining enough for fans of the subgenre.
Even though he’s not as badass and threatening as in the first two movies, Michael Myers still has a strong onscreen presence, which makes for some cool cinematography and re-use of the original soundtrack: this time slightly modified to make it more 80s-ish.
The acting ranges from great (Donald Pleasance) to rather worthless (Daniel Harris… I know it’s not fair to hate on child actors, but her performance truly annoyed me in this flick). The movie is, overall, never boring or doll: in fact, the directorial choice of having Dr Loomis as the main characters make for entertaining moments even when the story isn’t super interesting.
I have only one major complaint about Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers, which is the gore. This is, very much, a mainstream slasher with quite tame killings. One could argue that’s because in the 80s horror movies weren’t as gruesome as they’re today, but that’s simply false: some slasher flicks in the late 70s, early 80s (such as The Burning, The Mutilator, The Boogeyman…) did feature some amazing gore. Thus, I wish Halloween IV did so as well.
In all fairness, though, the movie ends with a blast: the last shot – and the last 2/3 minutes in general – are quite ballsy and effective, perhaps even iconic!
All in all, I’m quite happy with Halloween IV (especially in comparison with some of the next few sequels I’ll be taking a look at in the next parts of this series…). Sure, it’s a money-grabbing factory product, but I appreciate it for what it is.
Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers 7/10
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