Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers [DVD]
Screenplay : Michael Jacobs & Dominique Othenin-Girard and Shem Bitterman
MPAA Rating : R
Year of Release : 1989
Stars : Donald Pleasence (Dr. Sam Loomis), Danielle Harris (Jamie Lloyd), Ellie Cornell (Rachel Corruthers), Beau Starr (Sheriff Ben Meeker), Wendy Kaplan (Tina Williams), Jeffrey Landman (Billy Hill), Max Robinson (Dr. Hart), Tamara Glynn (Samantha)
The problem with Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers is that it's a bridge movie, linking Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988), which jump-started the series back into existence after a long hiatus with the introduction of Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris), Michael's niece, and Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995), which answers the mystery left at the end of Part 5. Halloween 6, which was savaged by critics and audiences during its initial release because it was heavily edited to the point of incoherence, has since entered legendary status among cult film collectors after "The Producer's Cut," which brought the pieces back together, began circulating. Halloween 5, then, serves mostly to set up a series of questions that Halloween 6 then answers.
Halloween 5 picks up right where Part 4 left off. After spending most of the film attempting to kill eight-year-old Jamie, the daughter of Laurie Strode, Jamie Lee Curtis' character in Halloween (1978) and Halloween II (1981), Michael Myers is blasted by police shotguns and falls to his presumable death in a mine shaft. Of course, Myers never dies, and Part 5 opens with his narrowly escaping the mine and being rescued by an elderly recluse in whose cave Myers apparently spends about a year unconscious.
Meanwhile, Jamie is admitted to the Haddonfield Children's Clinic. The film quickly glosses over the shocker finale to Part 4, in which Jamie apparently took up Michael's work by donning his clown costume and, in an homage to John Carpenter's astonishing opening to the 1978 original, killed her step-mother. This terrible act is referenced in one line of dialogue in Part 5 and part of it is shown in flashback, but then it is simply dropped. Apparently, Jamie didn't turn out to be evil after all. (Continuity doesn't seem to be of major interest here. Note that the infamous Myers house looks absolutely nothing like it did in the original.)
The script, by Michael Jacobs, director Dominique Othenin-Girard, and Shem Bitterman, establishes several new twists to keep the series alive. First, Jamie apparently develops a psychic connection to her Uncle Michael, even though the exact nature of this connection is never made clear. Secondly, they introduce a mysterious new character: a man dressed in a black trenchcoat and steel-tipped boots carrying a bag, on whose wrist is a strange symbolic tattoo that is also on one of Michael Myers' wrists. This man in black is never shown from the front, and his identity remains a mystery, but he plays an integral role in the unexpected denouement, which leaves the door open (literally) and a lot of questions unanswered. In other words, it works as a perfect set-up for Halloween 6.
In the meantime, French director Dominique Othenin-Girard (Omen IV: The Awakening) has about 90 minutes of screen time to kill, so to speak, so he stages some fairly stylish suspense sequences involving Michael stalking an assortment of young victims. All of it is quite perfunctory, although done well. Othenin-Girard mimics John Carpenter's style in the original by minimizing the gore and emphasizing the omnipresence of Michael. He includes a few obligatory false alarms, including a clever sequence in a barn that features both the real Michael Myers and a prankish teen dressed in a Michael Myers costume. He also stages a particularly effective chase scene in which Jamie is caught in a laundry chute with Michael trying to get at her from below.
Donald Pleasance returns for the fourth time as Dr. Sam Loomis, Michael's intrepid psychiatrist to whom the police still refuse to listen until at least half a dozen people have been killed. But, there is little wonder why other characters don't listen to Dr. Loomis, because as Pleasance portrays him, he has become an off-kilter eccentric, hardly the leveled voice of reason he represented in the original film. Pleasance hams it up badly, rasping and wheezing and generally acting like he's got a few loose marble, which raises the question of who is more insane: Michael or Dr. Loomis?
Fans of the Halloween series will certainly find enjoyment in Halloween 5, as will those who can appreciate stylish, well-designed, if still predictable, suspense. Nevertheless, for most of the running time, one wonders what is the purpose of the movie outside of rehashing old slasher cliches. The ending answers that question, but it still doesn't make up for the lost time.
|Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers DVD|
|Halloween 5 is also available from Anchor Bay in a special limited edition (only 15,000 units) that includes a 5"x7" theatrical poster replica and a 48-page booklet with photos and film information, all of which is packaged in a deluxe tin container (SRP $39.99).|
|Widescreen||1.85:1 / 1.33:1 pan-and-scan|
|Audio||Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround|
Dolby 2.0 Surround
|Supplements|| Inside Halloween 5 making-of documentary|
Original theatrical trailer
|Distributor||Anchor Bay Entertainment|
|Presented in either anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) or in full-frame, the image quality of Halloween 5 is generally excellent. Colors are strong and well-saturated, and flesh tones look natural. The image is sharp with good detail, and there were no noticeable compression artifacts or edge enhancement. Since 80% of the movie takes place at night, black levels are a crucial issue in the transfer. For the most part, they are solid throughout, although they are also somewhat troublesome at time, when in certain sequences (especially the scenes that take place inside the Myers house) darker portions of the image appear grainy and somewhat grayish at the edges.|
|The newly remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack, though not particularly aggressive or bass-heavy, it is still a solid mix that gives range and depth to Alan Howarth's creepy mood music and John Carpenter's classic theme. The surround channels are not active a lot of the time, but they are used creatively in certain sequences to create suspense (such as the barn sequence). The most impressive display is during the opening credits, which shows brief flashes of giant butcher knife carving a pumpkin. During this scene, the soundtrack uses imaging and directionality with startlingly effective results.|
|The disc includes a 15-minute documentary, Inside Halloween 5, which is presented in anamorphic widescreen. The documentary was produced and directed by Mark Cerulli, who also produced the Halloween Unmasked 2000 documentary on Anchor Bay's two-disc Halloween special edition DVD. The documentary features production footage and 1989 interviews with Danielle Harris (who played Jamie) and director Dominique Othenin-Girard, as well as 2000 interviews with Harris, Ellie Cornell (who played Rachael), executive producer Moustapha Akkad, cinematographer Rob Draper, and stunt man Don Shanks, who played Michael Myers. The documentary is brief, but it offers some insight into the production, as well as some amusing anecdotes told by the cast. Most telling is the fact that no one (not even the producer or director) knew who the man in black was supposed to be. |
Also included is the original theatrical trailer (in anamorphic widescreen), as well as a brief (and I mean brief) introduction to the movie by Danielle Harris and Ellie Cornell.
©2000 James Kendrick