Contributor: Rick McGimpsey
If Halloween 4 was a step in the right direction then Halloween 5 is a step away from it. This film acts a connecting piece between Halloween 4 and Halloween 6 which automatically causes a whole set of problems. For one thing, Halloween 6 is not a good movie which I will get into in my next review. And for another, this movie is chock full of strange, confusing, and unexplained plot threads that acted as a setup for a sequel which took six years to come out.
The story opens where we left Michael in the last film: gunned down by a posse of hicks and falling to the bottom of a mine shaft. Michael is still alive, of course, and is crawling through the mine seriously wounded. He happens upon an old hermit living in a shack and collapses at his doorstep. The kindly hermit takes Michael in not bothering to ponder what a man in a mask, riddled with bullets, carrying a butcher knife might have been doing prior to collapsing at his door. I would have been a bit more curious myself, but I guess if everyone in horror movies were smart then there would be a lot less people for slasher icons to kill.
The hermit tends to Myers’s wounds and places the mask on a peg near a mirror. Still unconscious Michael is laid on a bed to rest and we get a brief glimpse of a strange tattoo on his wrist which we have never seen before. It’s a symbol that looks just like this:
This is the Runic letter, Thorn and if it happens to look like something out of The Lord of the Rings that is only because Tolkien was well learned in Runes himself and used them in his stories. Although the creator of Middle-earth did not to my knowledge ever conceive of them as tattoos for slasher icons.
Now while not being either a wizard or an Elf, Michael does seem to have some magic abilities since his niece, Jamie Lloyd, can sense that he is alive through a psychic connection between the two of them. I am not sure why this is the case since Laurie never had any such connection to him and I would imagine the implications here are that Jamie and Michael are psychically linked by blood. To add to the strange mysteries of this situation there is a man in black wearing steel-toed boots who is seen wandering about Haddonfield throughout the film with no explanation given to who he is and what he wants, but seems to have some coinciding relation with what is going on between Jamie and Michael Myers.
Jamie begins to have these psychic premonitions a year after the events of Halloween 4 when Michael Myers who had hitherto been in a comatose state in the hermit’s hut, begins to awake. To show his gratitude for saving his life, feeding him, and changing his soiled underwear (you know it happened) Michael kills the hermit and takes back his mask and butcher knife.
Elsewhere, Jamie is sensing all of this in her bed at a Children’s Hospital where she has been staying since her attack upon her foster mother last year. She is in an extremely traumatised state and has lost her ability to speak since the incident.
The attack on her foster mother is apparently a result of her psychic link with her uncle who compelled her to attack the woman a year ago and it is that same psychic link that is leading her to sense Michael’s resurrection now.
In my opinion the main point to take away from all of this is that the writers of the film changed their minds about making Jamie the killer in the sequel and created a bizarre explanation for her behaviour to keep Michael Myers as the central antagonist in part 5.
Rachel and Dr. Loomis are still regularly visiting Jamie at the hospital and the combination of their visits and the attention of a kindly nurse keeps Jamie from despairing completely. Jamie has become a bit of a pariah in Haddonfield now that her relationship to Michael is known and the fact that she attacked her foster parent with a pair of scissors is now public knowledge. Jamie has very much grown dependent on the friends she has and the visits from them are an important part of her emotional well-being. Occasionally Rachel brings her ditsy friend Tina along and even sneaks in the family dog, Max, in through her bedroom window. Dogs aren’t allowed in the hospital, but the doctors and nurses look the other way. It seems when your uncle is a notorious mass murderer and you yourself have shown psychotic tendencies you get special privileges. I can’t think of any other reason for why Jamie is so special in deserving this exception to hospital policy. If I attacked my mother with a pair of scissors I don’t think they would even let me see a picture of my pet let alone visit it.
During one of these visits a stone is thrown suddenly through Jamie’s window with a letter taped to it which says “The evil child must die.” The strange thing about this is how the vandal knew which window of the hospital to throw the rock. But, that plot hole aside, the idea of Jamie being a pariah is referenced very little in this movie despite this episode. We get the scene with the rock and a bit of dialogue between Rachel and Loomis about how scared the townsfolk are of Jamie, but it culminates to nothing more than that. The whole pariah concept eventually goes no where and it seems like a waste of time to bring it up at all. While we are supposed to believe Haddonfield is afraid of Jamie it seems most of the people in the town who interact with her don’t mind her presence at all. These angry stone-throwers seem like a small minority to me and are no reflection on the sentiments of the entire town.
While all of this is going on Dr. Loomis, always attuned to Michael Myers and his evilness, becomes aware of the psychic connection between Jamie and her uncle. He begins to suspect that Michael is still alive and despite Jamie’s refusal to communicate with him on the issue he tries to convince Sheriff Meeker to be cautious. Meeker doesn’t take the doctor seriously and in this scene we get one of my favourite Loomis lines ever. He tells the sheriff, “I prayed that he would burn in Hell, but in my heart I knew that Hell would not have him.” It’s so delightfully cheesy and it is a perfect line for a character like Loomis. He’s the Halloween equivalent to Van Helsing and his keen understanding of the enemy the town is fighting makes this bit of dialogue remind me all the more of Helsing and characters like him.
Later on, Jamie has another one of her premonitions and she senses Michael Myers’ presence in her family’s house. Dr. Loomis calls the home and Rachel answers wearing a bath towel because she was just taking a shower. As any horror buff will tell you she has committed already two of the biggest no-no’s in slasher flick culture. 1. Never survive a horror film and then appear in the sequel. 2. Don’t be naked in any scene.
Having committed both of these heinous crimes her fate is sealed.
In response to Loomis’s phonce call she, out of fear for her safety, calls the police and they search the area and find nothing. Here we meet two police officers who are supposed to be the comic relief of the movie. They search her house and then come out to tell her the coast is clear. As they leave the house and make their appearance we are treated to some very stereotypical clown music that I guess is supposed to let us know that the too cops are morons. The music, however, is a big turn off and when I first saw this movie I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It seems from Dukes of Hazzard to The Last House on the Left the tradition of bumbling cops is alive in well Halloween 5 too.
Rachel, feeling stupid for wasting the Haddonfield police’s time, goes back into the house where she is then attacked by Michael Myers and killed. This leaves us with Jamie, Dr. Loomis, and Tina as the film’s main protagonists. I don’t mind Jamie and Loomis, but Tina is annoying. She is a ditsy airhead whose favourite topics of conversation never ascend beyond the asinine and acts like a cheerleader in the most inappropriate moments. This woman is a very poor replacement for Rachel.
She is dating a douche-bag named Mike who is in love with his car and gives it fresh waxings with all the tenderness of a man making love to a woman. This strange, antisocial jerk becomes extremely angry if anyone even touches his car and it soon becomes apparent that only an idiot would see anything worth dating in him. So naturally he is going out with Tina. Their relationship ends abruptly when later at a car garage Mike is sitting in his vehicle when he sees through the car’s mirror a hand holding a rake scraping the paint off his car. Mike completely incredulous that someone would dare do such a thing to his beloved vehicle gets out of it and threatens the vandal who, unfortunately for him, turns out to be Myers who decides scraping Mike’s face with the rake is more fun than doing it to his car. It’s evident that in Haddonfield there is simply not enough room for two assholes named Michael and someone had to go.
Becoming increasingly concerned for Tina’s safety Loomis urges the two bumbling cops to keep on an eye on her so they follow her to a Halloween party where she and some friends decide to sneak off to a barn. Tina’s two friends, Spitz and Sam, decide to have sex on a pile of hay and this ends poorly when Michael kills them with a pitchfork and a scythe. He then proceeds to go outside and kill the two police officers as well.
Jamie senses that Tina is in danger and begins talking again and decides to go warn her. A boy her own age named Billy who has a crush on her agrees to go with her. They sneak out of the children’s hospital looking for her and meet up with her just around the time that Tina has discovered the bodies. Trying to escape Michael who is stalking them Jamie, Tina, and Billy flee into the woods and when Myers catches up with them Tina sacrifices herself to give the two children time to get away. The kids are rescued by Sheriff Meeker and Dr. Loomis and the Doctor convinces Jamie to help him lure Michael into a trap at his old house. The set-up is botched when the cop guarding Jamie is killed and she is forced to flee up a laundry chute. She encounters Michael in the attic and she attempts to reach out to him by calling him ,”Uncle.” He takes his mask off briefly and seems receptive to Jamie until she touches his face. This sends him into a rage and he puts the mask back on and goes back to trying to kill her. Thankfully Loomis makes it to the attic in time to trap Michael in a chain net and beat him unconscious with a wooden plank. Dr. Loomis suffers a stroke during the attack, but Michael is nonetheless subdued and taken to the Haddonfield jail.
Outside of the jail Jamie hears an explosion and several gunshots. She runs back in to see the entire police station painted red with blood and dead policemen everywhere. The man in black whom we had been seeing throughout Halloween 5 has busted Michael Myers out of jail leaving the shocked and perplexed Jamie sobbing, “No!”
The film ends here leaving the identity of the Man in Black and the fate of Jamie and Michael unknown.
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers is a dark turn from the more lighthearted Halloween 4. It is filled with depictions of Jamie’s emotional state and personal demons affecting her relationships, losing all of the friends she cares about, and it gives us an ending that evokes a complete sense of hopelessness in the fight against Myers. It’s a very depressing movie compared to Halloween 4. Also the story is peppered with unexplained mysticism, psychic phenomenon, and strange eerie figures whose actions and motivations perplex and confuse the viewers. A lot of this is explained in Halloween 6, but in 1989 I must imagine this film was not well liked by the fans. In the horror medium it needs to be understand that in certain sub-genres confusion and unexplained events are done well and in others they are not. The slasher genre is one of the latter. Michael Myers is not a Lovecraftian creation. His character is supposed to be obvious, one-dimensional, and without deep secrets. Movies like Suspiria and Silent Hill can get away with being as confusing as they want because they are visually-oriented films. They don’t depend on a straight-forward and easily understood narrative. And it seems to me with Halloween 5 and 6 the writers were trying to make a more sophisticated horror story that simply didn’t work with the slasher genre. Horror films of this type shouldn’t have entries that depend on future sequels to be understood. All the setup for Halloween 6 here is unappreciated by most fans (myself included) even 21 years after that sequel came out. Heavy-handed setup for sequels might work for the Saw franchise, but not Halloween. Halloween 5 would have been a much more enjoyable movie if it was not so busy being Halloween 6’s harbinger.
In the end Halloween 5 is a weak entry in the series that tied into a sequel that ended up being one of the worst in the series. The payoff in 1995 must have left fans feeling more disappointed than the kids in Halloween III were with the Silver Shamrock Special. Sometimes hype is better than the result.