The bastardisation of John Carpenter and Debra Hill’s masterpiece continues with Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, even though he already returned in the first film.
Released and set 10 years after the original, The Re-Return of Michael Myers abandons the fun anthology idea established in Halloween III due its unpopularity and returns to Friday the 13th–grade box ticking and body counting, even ripping off the equivalent Friday the 13th‘s ending. But that’s jumping ahead.
Presumably no longer able to afford Jamie Lee Curtis, the film unceremoniously kills off Laurie Strode in an unseen car accident, which seems an odd way to dispatch the series’ protagonist but at least they name her daughter (and therefore Michael Myers’ niece) after her: the annoying Jamie (Danielle Harris AKA Debbie in The Wild Thornberrys), who finds herself stalked by Michael Myers. And you thought your uncle was creepy.
Off-screen kills wind up being a hallmark of this instalment, and that’s a problem when there’s nothing happening on screen. Most of the movie feels like padding, dominated by uninvolving relationship squabbles and references to the original that only serve to diminish the characters and remind us that it takes a genius like Carpenter to inject excitement into this formula.
This time the director’s chair is occupied by Dwight H. Little (whose 2009 Tekken movie is currently hovering around 0% on Rotten Tomatoes), covering more Haddonfield locations than the drab hospital setting of Halloween II but neglecting to have anything interesting happen at any of them.
The only saving graces are Donald Pleasence and Carpenter’s iconic theme tune, although the latter is overplayed to the point of distraction. Even the titular return of Michael Myers (now looking like Lt. Commander Data, despite the Shatner mask) fails to rekindle the initial terror of The Shape, since his inability to catch a little girl makes him seem weak and unscary.
Halloween is one of those films that did it all, and did it so well that any attempt at replication is as doomed as a Haddonfield babysitter. Without Carpenter’s craft we find the franchise four movies in and already over the Hill.