Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers got the series back on track after the third entry, Season of the Witch, took a departure from the original storyline that fans were not prepared for. Without Halloween 4 coming along when it did, I don’t think the franchise would have continued. It brought us back to the tone and basic structure of the original classic, while also moving the story forward in a way that made sense.
It was an atmospheric movie that really worked, despite some mask troubles. Because of that success, however, the higher-ups wanted to see a sequel as soon as possible. Halloween 5 was rushed into production with barely any time to figure out what the story should be and where it needed to go.
In the end, Halloween 5 suffered for this. Its story doesn’t make any sense at all. It doesn’t even attempt to. There’s so much going on in it, which is so bizarre for a series that started out with pure simplicity. It’s convoluted to extremes and there are major holes in the logic—namely the idea that an old hermit kept an unconscious Michael Myers lying on a table for an entire year and the fact that the Myers house looks nothing whatsoever like the house from the earlier films.
The best thing that Revenge of Michael Myers has going for it is that it genuinely feels like Halloween. It’s drenched in seasonal atmosphere. The three films shot in Salt Lake City—4,5 and 6—all benefit from this sense of a genuinely colder, crisper environment. That crispness mixed with the small town feeling and late eighties decorations make for a very classic Halloween atmosphere—something that not all entries in the franchise, even better ones, always achieved.
There’s also an appreciated touch in the cinematography to try and recreate some of the classic stylistic choices that Dean Cundey made in the first two features. We get a few more over-the-shoulder shots of Michael as well as scenes of him lurking in the background. These are some of my favorite moments from this sequel because they at least keep a sort of visual consistency with the original.
Donald Pleasance and Danielle Harris shine, even when it’s not clear what their motivations are. Jamie as a character particularly suffers from convoluted over-plotting, but Pleasance is at the top of his game as a Loomis who is more obsessed than we’ve ever seen before. This was clearly written to be a final outing for the character, too, because everything about Loomis’s confrontation with Michael feels final. It even looks like he has an onscreen death when he collapses on top of Michael’s unconscious body.
There are some neat things in Halloween 5, especially if you’re just looking for a simple, casual viewing experience. These tend to go overlooked because of the story, but that also doesn’t make the plot any better. It’s the atmosphere that wins over the logic, which makes this entry feel somewhat like a giallo picture. Unfortunately, it lacks the substance to truly make that connection work.
Things are introduced in this movie that were never intended to be explained. It’s hard not to find that frustrating. They were just left for the next guy to clean up and because of that, Revenge of Michael Myers is largely to blame for many of the problems that Curse of Michael Myers suffered. The Thorn symbol and the man in black were inherited problems and Curse writer Daniel Farrands had to solve them somehow.
Director Dominique Othenin-Girard never intended to explain the man in black he introduced halfway through the movie, not in any clear way, at least. The feature had major plot holes to begin with and then there were others that were added into it for no apparent reason.
Because of this, Halloween 5 is a mess of a movie. But that doesn’t change the fact that I watch it every October. Not just because it’s a Halloween film, but because it’s a film that genuinely feels like Halloween. It’s a true October slasher and even if it’s not great, it absolutely works as such.