Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Director: Dominique Othenin-Girard
Writer: Michael Jacobs, Dominique Othenin-Girard, Shem Bitterman
Producer: Ramsey Thomas
Stars: Donald Pleasence, Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Beau Starr, Jeffrey Landman, Tamara Glynn, Jonathan Chapin, Wendy Kaplan, Betty Carvalho, Troy Evans, Don Shanks
Still hunted by Dr. Loomis, Michael Myers resurfaces one year after his last killing spree to pursue his young niece Jamie.
What’s the more ridiculous premise kicking off “Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers?” That the filmmakers wrote themselves out of the “Halloween 4” (review here) ending jam with the old “it was (mostly) just a dream” copout, or the idea that masked serial killer Michael Myers spent a full year playing Oscar and Felix as an old hermit’s unassuming roommate?
In an opening that could madden Annie Wilkes enough to break James Caan’s legs, “Halloween 5” says “nah” to the notion of little Jamie Lloyd picking up her uncle’s knife to become the family psychopath. Foster mom Darlene recovered from that formerly fatal stabbing and Jamie has spent the time since as a sympathetic mute in the local children’s clinic. Meanwhile, Michael crawls through a convenient cavern after his bullet-riddled tumble underground, river rafts without a tube, and finds a reclusive mountain man willing to nurse a silent murderer back to health for the next 364 days.
It’s now Halloween again in Haddonfield. Dr. Loomis fears Michael is due to return for his annual spree of holiday homicide, and Jamie’s psychic intuition confirms the suspicion in a series of mental breakdowns that have the girl telepathically mimicking her uncle’s current actions.
Everyone else has moved on since last year’s slaughter, despite knowing that Michael is still out there with his bad penny habit of popping up on October 31st. This includes Sheriff Meeker, initially dismissive of Loomis’ renewed ranting, as well as Jamie’s foster sister Rachel, who chooses to go away for a few days during the exact time when Jamie needs her sisterly comfort the most.
Rachel doesn’t make it far, however. Possibly aiming for a “Psycho”-styled bait and switch, Michael offs Rachel early. This move is but one of many scriptwriting missteps burying “Halloween 5” under an avalanche of poor characterizations and miscalculated relationship dynamics.
With Rachel out of the picture, Tina steps in as Jamie’s surrogate sister of sorts. Who is Tina? Rachel’s never-seen-before best friend with an ultra-affectionate attachment to Jamie that Rachel should have instead.
Out of nowhere, “Halloween 5” forces a family-like link between Jamie and a brand new, unrelated person when it already had that existing bond between Jamie and Rachel. To pay for a first act “surprise” kill, “Halloween 5” removes any emotional impact the adult/child connection could have by inserting one more person who would actually rather booze it up with her oversexed buddies than console a traumatized tike.
Not that either Rachel or Tina invest much care in Jamie’s ongoing ordeal in the first place. Rachel confusedly refers to herself as Jamie’s stepsister even though they are related through adoption, not remarriage. And Tina doesn’t find it at all in poor taste to prank a pair of dimwitted deputies by pretending to be a Michael Myers victim later in the movie.
“The Revenge of Michael Myers” also provides an almost entirely humorless portrayal of Dr. Loomis. Gone is the nervously laughing man feeling embarrassed by a quick trigger in front of Sheriff Brackett. Or the booze-swigging hitchhiker smirking at an alcoholic priest’s car karaoke hymns. Two smiles briefly crack on the grizzled doctor’s face here, with one expended on a dead animal jump scare. Loomis is otherwise grim, even violent, about his ongoing obsession to capture Michael at any expense. It’s uncomfortable watching him forcibly grab children willy-nilly, at one point putting his hands on Jamie in frustration to the point where it seems he might shake her to death.
The plotting of the climax is laughable. A heavily-manned, heavily-armed sting is staged to capture Michael with Jamie acting as bait. Putting a nine-year-old girl in harm’s way is already a stretch for law enforcement personnel who would like to keep their jobs. Then when trouble elsewhere demands immediate attention, the sheriff orders everyone to the other location stat. I counted no less than five squad cars with sirens and a fully-staffed SWAT van pulling away, yet the sheriff leaves behind only one, count ‘em, one deputy to escort Jamie back to the station. What could go wrong?
“Halloween 5” visually mimics many of the memorable setups from John Carpenter’s original (e.g. Michael’s staircase silhouette, behind-the-body stalking outside of school, etc.), but it is missing the same soul of stylistic suspense. Popular opinion favors “Halloween 4” as one of the more appreciated sequels, though I find “Halloween 5” neither appreciably worse nor better. “The Revenge of Michael Myers” is probably a few hairs dumber than “The Return of Michael Myers,” but that movie had its share of pretty ridiculous moments and plot devices, too.
Standing out as a letdown in the overall series, “Halloween 5” still pairs well on a double bill with its immediate predecessor in the same way that “Halloween” and “Halloween II” are good for back-to-back viewing. A big part of that is related to the aesthetics of both being filmed in Utah only one year apart. Another part has to do with both being mediocre movies that could have done with one more pass on the shooting script, or in this case, a different screenplay entirely.
For fun, because “Halloween 5” is in dire need of it, spot a mustache-less Max Robinson as Jamie’s doctor. “Silent Night, Deadly Night” fans will recognize him as the deputy who shoots the deaf priest dressed as Santa in that far superior holiday horror movie.
Review Score: 60