Contributor: Rick McGimpsey
Five years after the debacle that was Halloween III Halloween 4 came along to bring the series back to the character that made it famous. I would make a comment about how it is usually a sign that a series is going downhill when numbered sequels shift from Roman numerals to the more common Arabic ones, but since this movie is not that bad I won’t bother.
The film is set ten years after Halloween and Halloween II and throughout that time Michael Myers has been kept at a sanitarium very much alive. Apparently both Michael and Dr. Loomis had survived the explosion at the hospital a decade ago with only some scars to prove they were there at all.
Without Dr. Loomis’s approval Michael is moved via ambulance out of the sanitarium to be relocated someplace else. In the ambulance Michael decides it is time to come out of retirement when one of the paramedics mentions that he has a niece and kills everyone in the vehicle. The ambulance crashes into a river and Michael Myers escapes still wrapped in bandages from head to toe. At a gas station he kills all of the employees and finds a new mask for himself there. Why a local gas station out in the boonies had a mask for sale modeled after the one a serial killer wore ten years ago is beyond me. You would think that after 1978 it would have been considered tasteless to continue selling these masks and they would have instead become vintage, hard-to-find rarities like Song of the South or Richard Bachman’s Rage.
Dr. Loomis arrives at the gas station and finds Michael still there. Why Myers lingered is unclear since he makes no attempt to kill Dr. Loomis. Instead he just steals a tow truck, destroys the doctor’s car, and heads toward Haddonfield. With no vehicle the doctor hitches a ride with a crazy preacher ranting about prophecy and Judgment Day. The crazy religious person gimmick in horror movies is getting a little old ever since Stephen King did the cliche to death in recent years. Especially when the nutjob serves no substantial service to the plot. Well, at least he is not carrying around a rotting eye ball like the hermit in Friday the 13th Part III
Elsewhere, the aforementioned niece is suffering from insomnia. Her name is Jamie Lloyd and she is the orphaned daughter of Laurie Strode. It’s not made clear what happened to Laurie in this movie and all we know is that Jamie is living with a foster family. The family has a teenage daughter named Rachel who often babysits and watches over Jamie even though she would much rather spend time with her boyfriend, Brady, than watch an eight year old.
None of the adults in Jamie’s life have felt the need to suppress the truth of Michael Myers from her so she knows all about her uncle and the murders he committed ten years ago. At her foster family’s home she has been having nightmares about Michael in which he is under her bed or lurking on the other side of her bedroom door. While I have nothing against the nightmare scenes per se there is one thing about them that really annoys me. The dream occurs at night during a thunderstorm so there is a lot of lightning flashes illuminating the bedroom for split seconds. While Jamie is heading toward her bed for her nighttime prayers she passes her mirror just as there is a lightning flash that reveals Michael reflected in it standing in the middle of her room. The villain reflected in a mirror cliche is a common staple in horror movies, but the problem here is that he is only a figment of Jamie’s imagination and not real. Yet when she passes the mirror Jamie doesn’t notice Michael reflected in it. Only the audience does. How? If he is not there and is only a figment of her imagination then how could she not see him? How do you miss a hallucination? That’s the dumbest thing I have ever heard!
Anyway, Jamie eventually does see the apparition and screams prompting Rachel to rush into the bedroom and wake her up. The following day Rachel takes Jamie out to a store to pick a Halloween costume where she meets her boyfriend Brady. While Jamie is browsing the two teens end up fighting over something petty which leads Brady to go find a different girl to sleep with behind Rachel’s back. Rachel discovers this when she takes Jamie trick-or-treating and head to the Sheriff’s daughter, Kelly’s home. When the door opens the girl is dressed in nothing but a t-shirt with Brady clearly visible standing in the hall. Rachel leaves in a huff and Brady rushes out to try to apologise and explain that he was “just angry.” When Rachel makes the logical choice of telling him to buzz off the supposedly contrite Brady goes back to Kelly.
Now I have to stop to ask how this guy Brady is even worth fretting over. The kind of fellow who will go roll in the hay with some random bimbo because of a little fight is probably not the best guy to shed tears over. When his apology was rejected instead of going home humiliated and contrite he just heads back to Kelly’s house. If getting laid is so much more important to him than being a decent human being then Rachel should just let Kelly have the loser.
And another thing that I don’t understand is why Kelly is wearing only a t-shirt in this scene. I mean, I know that is one of those things a lot of women do to turn their partners on, but if you are going to do that then perhaps you shouldn’t be giving out Halloween candy as well. It’s not as bad as giving out apples with razor blades I suppose, but I am still fairly certain most parents would not be pleased to learn that while their kids were ringing door bells asking for candy they were greeted by some slut wearing naught but a t-shirt with obviously no bra on and showing off her legs. If I had a son the object of letting him go trick-or-treating would be to let him have some fun and get treats. Not ease him into puberty.
Meanwhile Michael Myers arrives in town and goes right into the Police Department and kills virtually the entire Haddonfield police force. This leaves the town only protected by the sheriff and a few deputies who were on duty at the time. When this is discovered an army of hicks decide to round up a posse and go hunting for Michael. And while they are running about feeling important the Sheriff takes Dr. Loomis, Rachel, and Jamie to his home where Kelly and Brady are still enjoying each other’s company. Using this house as a base of defence fails miserably when Michael breaks in, kills the deputy, and then kills Kelly with a shotgun. And by killing with a shotgun I mean he speared her with it. A stupid way to use a shotgun, but Michael dislikes using guns the conventional way it seems. Brady attempts to defend Rachel and Jamie with a shotgun of his own, but the weapon jams and before he can fix it Myers reaches him and breaks his neck.
Rachel and Jamie escape onto the house’s roof and they climb down toward the yard. Jamie is unhurt, but Rachel falls and knocks herself unconscious. Michael, still hellbent on getting to his niece, chases after Jamie who runs away and finds Dr. Loomis. The doctor takes her to her school and sets off the alarm. The lynch mob hears the alarm and rush to the school. At the school Michael attacks Loomis and Jamie, but Rachel rushes in and sprays Michael in the face with a fire extinguisher. This stops him for a second or two while they meet up with the mob who agree to take them to safety in one of their trucks. Unbeknownst to them Michael had sneaked out and was clinging to the underside of the truck and while on the road he crawls onto the top of the vehicle and kills the driver. Rachel takes the wheel and drives like a maniac trying to shake Michael off. He eventually does fall off and she rams the truck into him shoving him near an abandoned mine. The rest of the posse show up and they gun down Michael repeatedly until he falls over into the mine and gets buried under the debris.
Assuming he is dead Rachel, Jamie, the sheriff, and Dr. Loomis head to the girl’s foster family’s house to settle down. Jamie’s foster mother prepares a bath for her when Jamie suddenly goes berserk and stabs the woman with a pair of scissors. Dr. Loomis becomes horrified and begins screaming over and over again “No! No! No! No!” before slumping to the ground sobbing.
This ending comes completely out of left field, but close examination does reveal some interesting things about what Dr. Loomis must be feeling right about now. After Michael had murdered his sister Judith when he was only six the doctor had studied the boy for 15 years. He eventually reached the realisation that Michael had no vestige of humanity in him, bur was only a mindless shell of a man whose essence was pure evil without any feelings of remorse, compassion, or morality. Michael Myers was a strange enigma. The fundamental qualities that make humans human were absent in him and this frightened the doctor enough to insist that this person be locked up forever. He was proven right in 1978 when Michael escaped and murdered several people. The event left Loomis permanently scarred while having to endure ten years of waiting while Michael was once again incarcerated. After escaping again and killing more people Dr. Loomis is understandably tired and worn out. 25 years of dealing with Michael Myers does that to a person. After Michael is presumably dead Dr. Loomis feels that perhaps now he can finally rest. Perhaps retire in peace knowing that he accomplished what needed to be accomplished. Dr. Loomis is feeling serene in the knowledge that he doesn’t have to face a being like Michael unleashing itself upon the world in his lifetime again.
But this is all shattered to pieces when Jamie attacks her foster mother. The inhuman essence of Michael Myers is living on in his niece. Loomis now understands that his work may never be over. Whatever happened to Michael as a boy that sent him into this state of inhumanity is passing itself onto the next generation of his family. Dr. Loomis is a tired old man with hardly any energy left and probably fears that Michael Myers, in whatever form he takes, will outlive him and flourish in the world for a very long time to come.
This is one of the few good sequels in the series. While it is a bit more bloody than Halloween II it doesn’t have the same exploitative feel. Halloween II felt like the franchise was trying to cash in on the success of Friday the 13th by replacing the suspense with gore and pointless nudity. While Halloween 4 may not be as subtle as the original it still tells a decent story. The heroine, Rachel, is likable and Danielle Harris gives a good performance as Laurie’s daughter. Dr. Loomis is still a lot of fun and seeing him as a much older and more subdued man is a nice bit of development for the character. He’s not as crazy as he was in Halloween II although he is still very much obsessed. The scars and his cane accentuate his brokenness and that he is not the same virile zealot he was in Halloween and Halloween II.
Halloween 4 is a good sequel that may not live up to the original, but was still a much needed revitalisation after the nonsense that was Halloween III.