Directed by Dwight H. Little
Produced by Paul Freeman
Written by Alan B. McElroy
Director of Photograpy Peter Lyons Collister
Music by Alan Howarth
Cast: Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Donald Pleasence, Beau Starr
1988/88 mins/Color/Dolby Digital 5.1
1.85:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Anchor Bay Entertainment DVD
"The mask doesn't look right."
That's the sound of me watching every HALLOWEEN sequel. And with the re-release of HALLOWEEN 4 on DVD, I'm saying it again.
HALLOWEEN 4 takes place 10 years after the events seen in HALLOWEEN and HALLOWEEN II. Against the wishes of Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence), Michael Myers is moved from the high security hospital to another facility. During the transfer, Myers learns that he has a niece and escapes. Sensing that danger is afoot, Loomis follows Myers to Haddonfield, his old hometown.
Meanwhile in Haddonfield, we learn that Laurie Strode (the Jamie Lee Curtis character from the original film) has died in an auto accident and that her daughter, Jamie (Danielle Harris), has been adopted by the Carruthers family. On Halloween night, Jamie's step-sister, Rachel (Ellie Cornell), take her trick-or-treating. On that same night, Michael Myers begins his reign of terror on the town. Loomis is able to convince Sheriff Meeker (Beau Starr) that both Jamie and all of Haddonfield may be in danger, so they take to the streets to find the child. Once Jamie and Rachel are located, they are taken to Meeker's house for safety. But can Jamie ever be safe from a seemingly unstoppable killer who is determined to kill every member of his family?
OK, let's go ahead and get the obvious argument out of the way -- HALLOWEEN 4 is a totally unnecessary sequel. HALLOWEEN II (which was, in its own way, an unnecessary sequel) had nicely wrapped up the Michael Myers--Laurie Strode--Dr. Loomis storyline. Plain and simple, HALLOWEEN 4 was made for the money. In many ways, I consider this movie the start of a new series which is totally separate from the films in which John Carpenter was directly related.
In some ways, HALLOWEEN 4 is a toss up. If this movie was not a sequel to HALLOWEEN and was a free-standing film, then most of it could be considered at least mediocre. The movie is fairly well shot and the acting, for a low-budget horror film, is above par.
However, when watching HALLOWEEN 4, one can't help but compare it to HALLOWEEN, and in that sense, HALLOWEEN 4 is a pretty bad movie. I can't believe that it took four people come up with the limited story in this movie. For starters, it's ludicrous to think that Myers and Loomis survived the explosion and fire at the end of HALLOWEEN II. If one can get past that, then there's the idea that after ten years of being strapped to a bed that Michael Myers could get up and walk. (And as Danielle Harris and Ellie Cornell point out in the commentary, why is his face still bandaged?) The idea that Michael would be pursuing his niece isn't necessarily a bad one, but again, we must buy the idea that, for some reason, he wants to wipe out anyone related to him.
To be fair, the first half of HALLOWEEN 4 isn't all that bad. When the HALLOWEEN theme first plays, it's nearly impossible to not get jazzed about the movie. But, the second half is a real snoozer. After being introduced to a group of fairly boring and banal characters, we are treated to a standoff in Meeker's house. These scenes are meant to reproduce the scenes from HALLOWEEN where Michael Myers is stalking Laurie and Nancy. However, the story puts so much focus on the other characters that we nearly forget about Myers. And, most likely in response to the films that came between 1978 and 1988, the movie puts too much emphasis on the elaborate kills. HALLOWEEN 4 then totally falls apart in the last 20 minutes, as Michael Myers ability to seemingly be everywhere at once goes from being a creepy idea to a fact, as he appears in places where he logically couldn't be. As for the twist ending, it's a good idea, but it's simply not satisfying.
Let me set the picture for you. It was October, 1988, and I, a die-hard HALLOWEEN fan, attended a midnight screening of HALLOWEEN 4 on opening night. I really wanted to like the film, but it just couldn't hold a candle to the original. (But, for some reason, I saw it twice in theater.) I've read comments from many fans who seem to love this film, and I have to assume that arises from the fact that they were simply desperate to see Michael Myers in action again. The best thing that I can say about HALLOWEEN 4 is that it's better than the two films which follow it, but I can't recommend it. And you know what, the mask doesn't look right!
HALLOWEEN 4 slashes its way onto DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. This newly released DVD replaces the previous DVD which came out in 1999. The new transfer is part of Anchor Bay's DiviMax series which is a high-definition transfer process. (Not to be confused with HD-DVD or BluRay). The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The transfer does look good, as the image is sharp and clear, but the picture is still somewhat dark at times and details aren't always distinct. (Especially when compared to the new transfer of HALLOWEEN 5.) I can only assume that Anchor Bay did the best that they could with this low-budget film. Keeping that frame of mind, the picture is relatively free from grain and the colors look fine. The image is stable and shows no video noise. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The musical score sound particularly good here. There are some nice moments of subwoofer action, but the surround sound seems to consist mostly of musical cues and some "scare" sound effects.
This new DVD carries several extras. We begin with a pair of AUDIO COMMENTARIES. The first features actors Danielle Harris and Ellie Cornell. This is an entertaining talk as the two reminisce about their time on the film. As they are in almost every scene of the movie, once the introduction passes they have a lot to say. Some fans may be annoyed by the fact that neither knows much about the HALLOWEEN mythos, but why should they? They're actors, not writers. Now, writer Alan B. McElroy does know something about the franchise, as does halloweenmovies.com webmaster Anthony Masi, who appear on the second commentary. If you are looking to learn more about the making of HALLOWEEN 4, then this is the track for you, as McElroy and Masi discuss many noteworthy nuggets about the film's production. And they answered my question about why the Michael Myers mask sports white hair at the 1:13:00 mark. "HALLOWEEN 4/5 Discussion Panel" (18 minutes) is taken from the 2003 "H25" Convention. Harris, Kathleen Kinmont, Sasha Jenson, and Jeffrey Landman answer questions about the movies from the moderator and audience members. "HALLOWEEN 4: Final Cut" (17 minutes) is a making-of featurette which offers clips, but no behind-the-scenes footage. We get comments from some cast members and McElroy as they discuss the movie. The DVD also contains the trailer for HALLOWEEN 4, which is 16 x 9.useum heist segment, does offer some new info. The only other extra on the DVD are “Bloopers”, which last for 10 minutes.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2006. ©