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Halloween 4: The Return of Micheal Myers (1988)

This is the first installment in the franchise that had no involvement of both, John Carpenter and Debra Hill after both signing away their rights of the series to Mustapha Akkad, who felt that due to the commercial failings of Halloween III: Season of the Witch, it was in the franchises best interests to return back to the basics of the 1978 original and bring back Micheal Myers as the antagonist of the film. The lack of involvement from Carpenter and Hill is clearly on show here and whilst this is certainly not the best of the series, it is definitely the most entertaining. It features one of the best opening credit sequences in the franchise, beautifully setting the tone and feel of Halloween. I strongly believe this films overall encapsulation of the Halloween season is done better here than most (that is up until the release of 'Trick 'r Treat' in 2007) making it my go to film every year. After the opening credits, we are introduced to one of the greatest exposition dumps in cinema history, from the security guard at the sanitarium Micheal is residing at. It is done so over the top with great effect and features some of the best dialogue in the film. This not only brings the audience up to speed with previous events but also perfectly displays the vastly different tone from the previous films. Daniel Harris as Jamie Lloyd is amazing casting, she outshines every other performance in this film. I usually I take issues with child acting, as I think it is difficult for them to convey a convincing performance - especially when given such a pivotal role. This is certainly not a problem here. Harris, along with the introduction of Ellie Cornell as Rachel Carruthers (who I believe is one of the more underrated final girls in horror) have a compelling relationship, making it hard not to invest in them emotionally. Cornell's acting can be quite questionable at times, especially early on, but I do think this is more due to the lazy dialogue she is expected to deliver. Thankfully, we have the very welcomed return of Donald Pleasance as Dr Sam Loomis, and I have to say this is my favourite interpretation of his character - not just in this film but across all the Halloween films that his character is used. He sole drive and purpose is waiting for the inevitable return of Myers, and once he does, he acts just as possessed as Myers himself trying making sure he is stopped. Pleasance is without question a phenomenal actor but it is clear he is aware of the more mellow dramatic tone of this production and has no trouble at all in flawlessly adapting to it. He is very over the top and it is extremely entertaining to watch. The mantel of Myers is once again portrayed by a different actor, this time being played by George P. Wilbur. I feel like Wilbur's portrayal is comprised by some of the poor decision made by the behind the scenes crew, for instance in a lot of scenes he wears hockey shoulder pads in order to provide a more bigger and imposing figure. It looks awful, making him appear hunched and almost without a neck, and in a few scenes in particular it's visible what is under his jumpsuit (most notable during the car chase sequence in the final act). As well as the hockey pads, I found the overly glowing white mask to also lose the mystic and emotion of previous incarnations. As much as I love this film, I do find Myers himself rather comical in this entry. It is here we see Myers in his bandaged face mask and it is my favourite behind 1978, I would have loved to have seen it continued on for the remainder of the film. Which brings me to the actual Myers mask that is used, I know a lot of people don’t enjoy the variations across the films but I think it's quite easily justifiable as to why it would change. Firstly, the mask last used in H2 burnt up at the end in the hospital explosion, there for 10 years later when we see the mask again it's in a costume shop which is where Micheal acquires it. Now, I personally have seen some terrible variations and knock offs of iconic masks from cinema in fancy dress shops, so it's not to hard to believe that he picked up the closest thing that resembled the mask he used in 1978. I can’t explain the blonde haired version that shows up during the scene in which Myers throws Loomis out if the school window later on in the film, though. Disappointingly, I did find this to be a rather tame entry where kills are concerned, with the majority of them happening off screen. There is very minimal gore or violence, with the exception of the aftermath shots of the gas station and the police station. There is couple of onscreen kills, notably early on in which Myers forces his thumb through the skull of one of the paramedics and later on in the closing moments in which he tears the throat out of one of the main town folk vigilantes. These are both done practically and do look rather impressive, its just shame a similar effort and creativity didn't go into bringing the rest of them to life. In the closing moments we see Jamie kill her stepmother and the original studio intention was to have her take up the mantel as the killer for future Halloween installments - something I personally am glad never came to fruition. These are Michael Myers films, and coming straight off the back of the failure of Season of the Witch, it seems strange to me that they would chose to make the decision to make a similar mistake. Even with that in mind, there is no denying the impact the scene had on me as an audience member, even when watching today. Hearing the screams of Loomis as he sees Jamie covered in blood wearing a similar clown costume mirroring that of Micheal in the opening minutes of the 1978 original is a genuinely shocking moment in the franchise history. I am well aware of this films has its flaws and there is more than enough of them to go around, yet for one reason of another I find myself constantly wanting to revisit it. It is my go to Halloween franchise film, as well as my go to first watch around the Halloween season. Although this is the start of the dreaded Thorn trilogy (more on that in part 5 and 6), I can't help but love this film unconditionally. I know I am in the minority with this but 'Halloween 4: The Return of Micheal Myers' is everything I love about this franchise.


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