The house is getting a warmer, so the Snuggie comes off. Maybe I should put some pants on. Naaaah…
As his motives become somewhat clearer, I am still left with the nagging question: Why is Michael Myers immortal? The other two horror super-franchises, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street make no bones (pun intended)(not really a pun) about their villains (heroes?) being of the supernatural realm. But Michael Myers is supposed to be a simple, flesh-and-blood serial killer. As of now, he has at least ten bullets in his torso, and two fired right through the eye holes of his mask. And he definitely bleeds. What’s going on here?
1:50 pm. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988). The coffee has long since been consumed, and I pry the first twist-top off a Bud Light Golden Wheat. (I keep trying to interest Anheuser-Busch in my tagline for this product: “The Cadillac of Shitty Beers.” I haven’t heard back from them yet.)
The swtich from Roman numerals to our more familiar Arabic numerals in the official title indicates our return to the familiar territory of Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis. No Laurie Strode, though. Jamie Lee Curtis was busy making one of my all-time favorite movies, A Fish Called Wanda. It would have been nice to have her, but she clearly made the right choice. Her character is killed off in an unspecified accident about a year before the events of 4, along with the husband she must have married right out of high school. (I suspect it’s supposed to be Lance Guest’s EMT character, Jimmy, who flirted with her in II.) Laurie’s eight-year-old daughter, Jamie Lloyd (daughter of “Jimmy”?), is adopted by the Carruthers family, and becomes the sister of Rachel Carruthers.
Rachel is played by Ellie Cornell, and manages a performance of wit and toughness almost equal to Curtis in the original. She is, however, outshined by Danielle Harris as Jamie. Harris is pretty extraordinary for a child actress, and really gets put through the wringer in this flick, but is never over-precocious or unnatural. Pleasence once again hams it up delightfully (he usually takes about three syllables to say his favorite word, “eeee-vy-il.”) Non-John Carpenter-related work appears to have dried up for Pleasence, so now instead of shamefacedly slumming in quick-cash slasher flicks between Shakespeare engagements, he appears to have made the Halloween franchise the centerpiece of his career.
2:30 pm. I fix a ham sandwich in honor of Donald Pleasence.
The hellish immolation of Myers and Loomis at the end of Halloween II ten years before is dismissed in the first five minutes as both of them “almost dying” in a fire. Loomis now has a bit of scarring and a limp. Myers has been in a coma under heavy guard. Naturally, he wakes up. With amazing navigational and driving skill for someone who has spent most of his life locked in asylums or comatose, he comes after his lone remaining family member — his niece Jamie. Although it has none of the atmosphere and subtlety of the first film, it also keeps the gore at a pretty tame level. The deaths here are actually milder than a Stallone or Schwarzenegger action flick of the same era. The movie is not good, but after Halloween III it seems like Citizen Kane. Rachel acts as a valiant protector of her adopted sister Jamie, and Michael Myers gets another “death” in a hail of gunfire (and another sheriff’s daughter gets offed in the process.) In a little epilogue just before the credits, it seems Jamie has inherited her uncle’s murderous tendencies.
3:28 pm. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989). Remember when they used to call empty beer bottles “dead soldiers”? Well, I’ve got three dead soldiers on the floor next to the couch, and a fourth about to fold under my enhanced interrogation techniques. Myers survives his most recent death and appears to have established a telepathic bond with Jamie. Jamie has been thoroughly and understandably traumatized by the events of 4, and after a (failed) Myers-style knife attack on her adoptive mother, now lives full-time in a children’s clinic, experiencing nightmares, seizures, and a total loss of speaking ability. Rachel and her “free spirited” sidekick Tina visit her frequently. (Lots of hairspray and dangly bracelets = zany free-spirit in 80’s movies.) In a move that’s pretty shocking, when Myers hits Haddonfield again one of his first victims is — Rachel. The smart, intrepid heroine of 4 is scissored to death in the first fifteen minutes of 5. Bummer. But in making Myers’ victims someone the audience cares about rather than the typical random stupid teen of the run-of-the-mill slasher movie, there’s some added gravitas that raises the Halloween movies a little above their contemporaries.
When Rachel meets her demise, the scream-queen torch is passed to wacky Tina for no logical reason, but Tina does not survive the film, either (she nobly sacrifices herself so Jamie can escape.) Pleasence has moved beyond merely chewing the scenery and is now devouring it in great slabs. “I prayed that he would burn in Hell. But in my heart, I knew that Hell would not have him!!” is a typical Loomis line, delivered with spittle-emitting intensity. One of the Jackass Boyfriends is supposed to be a brooding, dangerous punk, but dresses exactly like the Fonz. (Horror movie creators are oddly old-fashioned at times.) The killings come quicker in the later sequels. Fonzie is dispatched with a gardening implement five minutes after being introduced. Ayyyy! Continue reading