To be brutally honest, Halloween 5 should have been a slam dunk.
After all the pleasantly enjoyable Halloween 4 did all the heavy lifting (bringing Michael back, setting a new status quo, etc) so all the fifth installment had to do was capitalise on the incredibly strong cliff hanger that the previous installment ended with.
When we last left the weary town of Haddonfield, Michael’s attempt to kill his niece, Jamie Lloyd, was foiled by the him getting shot more times than Biggie and 2pac combined and falling down a conveniently paced well, but later that night Jamie unexpectantly takes a cue from her uncle’s playbook and shockingly stabs her foster mother while wearing a clown suit while Dr Loomis screams unintelligibly in horror (more on Donald Pleasance’s screaming later). Classic Michael, am I right? However, as part 5 gears up we see that Myers (obviously) isn’t dead but is instead severely wounded and in a weakened state escapes by floating down a nearby river. Here, barely 5 minutes into the movie, logic takes somewhat of a cheap shot to the ribs and never truly recovers when Michael staggers into the shack of an old hobo and passes out – for a whole fucking year. This incredibly giving, yet terminally naive homeless gentleman is handsomely rewarded for not telling a single soul that a stranger riddled with bullets holes and wearing a Halloween mask has been passed out in his crib (not to mention he’d selflessly gave up his bed to a stranger for 365 straight days in a row) by getting throughly murdered by a refreshed Michael who, it has to be said, must have one of the most epic body clocks in the business.
As Myers sets out to restart his murderous quest we find young Jaime Lloyd being treated at a sanatorium for the young and suffering from a chronic case of muteness by an overbearing Dr. Loomis – who if he isn’t careful is gonna end up 0 – 2 on child patients after also trying to cure Michael as a nipper. It seems both Jamie and Michael share some telepathic bond all of a sudden and Loomis constantly pressures the distraught girl to use this to find him.
This plot line, while obviously a work of far-fetched bollocks haphazardly dropped into a franchise where the supernatural is explicitly downplayed, would actually be quite gripping if the film didn’t spend so much time concentrating on the social circle that hangs around Jamie’s foster sister and Halloween 4 co-lead, Rachel. Actress Ellie Cornwell was a way-above-average lead for these kinds of movies so it’s somewhat offensive when (SORRY, MASSIVE SPOILER WARNING!!!) she’s offed fairly early on. With this somewhat annoying “twist” and with Danielle Harris’ rendered virtually wordless, your stomach sinks as you progressively realize that it’s this herd of agonisingly vapid fuckwits who we’re going to be spending the lion’s share of the movie with. There’s the asshole one, the horny one, the OTHER horny one and, worst of all, Tina: quite possibly THE most irritating character in slasher movie history. As the movie unreasonably expects us to feel for this shallow, noisy and vastly annoying 80’s MTV promo masquerading as a teenage girl, Michael thankfully does God’s work and diligently whittles down the cast with various gardening tools.
There’s something to be said for rooting for the killer in a slasher film as a way of psychologically reducing stress and empathising with the outsider but surely it shouldn’t be THIS satisfying! And yet it is as the white masked apparition cuts down kitten loving nymphos, a Fonzie wanna-be and two comedy relief policemen so excruciatingly unfunny they actually have comedy sound effects play over their scenes.
The direction is hideous, with helmer Dominique Othenin-Girard amazingly staging not even a single moment of tension (not even once, not even by accident) and rendering case scenes virtually incomprehensible by God awful camera work. Girard can’t even blame the script as he co-wrote the bastard, which contains even further face-palming misadventures such as Jaime climbing into a coffin at one point and calling “Uncle” to Michael in an attempt to slow Michael’s psychotic roll – and of course, the plot actually works.
So is there ANY part of this movie that isn’t hair-tearingly awful?
Why, yes. Yes there is. Enter: Donald Pleasance, who grabs the climatic scene where he and his former patient square off in the old Myers house by the throat and refuses to let go. After shooting his prey full of tranquilizer darts and dropping a massive metal net on him (Dr. Loomis apparently has the prep skills of Batman and Home Alone’s Kevin McCallister combined) Pleasance then adopts the incredibly professional medical procedure of subduing a patient by ripping a two by four off the wall and beating his nemesis about the head and neck with it while screaming “DIIIIIIIIEEEEEE MICHAAAAAAEEELLLL!!!!” directly into his face. The scene is frankly remarkable and easily stands shoulder to shoulder with the most extreme things Nic Cage has done on film – yes, even Wicker Man, and it’s a damning shame the rest of the film hasn’t even the fraction of the energy that a senior citizen battering a serial killer with a lump of wood brings to the party.
Eventually even this gem of a scene is all undone by random bits of half-thought-out, sequel-baiting (a thorn-shaped rune tattoo on Michael’s hand that’s never there before, a shadowy man in cowboy boots lurking about town, a random jailbreak) that stubbornly refuse to pay off simply so the producers could will Halloween 6 into being (they succeeded. It sucks).
A blatant open goal after how casualy entertaining Part 4 was, The Revenge Of Michael Myers stands out as one of many low points of the series with virtually everything about it misfiring horribly, excepting of course, for the magnificent presence of one Donald Pleasance.
Revenge is a dish best served cold, they say. The Revenge Of Michael Myers is, at best, undercooked.