By: Garrett Collins
Starring: Danielle Harris, Donald Pleasence, Beau Starr, Wendy Kaplan, Tamara Glynn, Jeffrey Landman, Ellie Cornell, and Don Shanks.
Anyone who is in their mid-30s and reviewing films remembers the show Siskel & Ebert. One thing that was readily apparent about both Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert was that they were not fans of little kids having their lives in danger in the movies. Go after the sex-crazed drugged out teens all you want, but leave little kids alone! This, on top of many other reasons that I myself agree with and will outline in this review, was a big reason why they completely panned Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. Just the title itself is demented, because it says to the audience that Michael is taking revenge on a 9-year-old girl.
While this is only the beginning of Halloween 5’s problems, I have a few enjoyable things about the film I want to point out that threw me for a loop which I completely forgot about. First of all, I enjoyed the overall look and feel to this film as opposed to the last one. Now there is almost nothing in Halloween 5 that can hold a candle to parts 1 and 2. Except its opening title sequence. The vicious slicing of a pumpkin –combined with returning composer Alan Howarth’s ominous opening theme- sets us up for a beautifully conceived horror film, and is head & shoulders above anything in Halloween 4. In fact, everything about this one is improved over The Return of Michael Myers. While 4 was almost permanently caked in a garish blue pallet, this installment’s director Dominique Othenin-Girard has at least improved the look and feel of the series with this one. With shots such as Jaime (Harris) having visions and her face being totally encompassed in a wide assortment of colors, and an incredibly intense chase sequence involving Jaime and Tina (Kaplan) getting chased through the woods by a car driven by Michael, Girard has to get points for at least trying to make his entry in the series stand out.
But where Halloween 5 completely fails is in its script and other directorial decisions. The film was released not even a year after 4, so the rushed feeling of Halloween 5 is not a coincidence. There are incredibly ridiculous additions like two bumbling cops (complete with goofy music accompaniment) and a John Travolta rip-off boyfriend to Tina that didn’t look a day under 35. I understand the formula for these films was to introduce people just to see them offed. But with Rachel (a briefly returning Cornell) all of a sudden displaying non-existent before confidence and a new set of friends, it falls into the same traps as 4, which was full of example after example displays of lazy writing.
Speaking of lazy writing, let me get to THE major flaw of Halloween 5. At the end of 4, we are shown Jaime touch the hand of Michael and then minutes later it is implied that she stabbed her mother to death while wearing a mask, much like her uncle did all those years ago. There were MANY directions to take this storyline. They could have made Jaime an accomplice to Michael. They could have had her stay in a mental institution and Loomis dread that she has the exact same evil as her uncle. The possibilities were endless, and I felt it was the one new addition that previous screenwriter Alan B McCelroy added which I considered creative. Where they take this storyline is almost unforgivable. They have Jaime (Harris, once again the cast’s best asset) be speechless for the majority of the film, while at the same time displaying a psychic connection to her uncle, while obviously pushing away any hints of those psychotic tendencies shown before. So why did she kill her stepmom exactly? It is never explained, and this lack of explanation was an inconceivable oversight by the writers. While the scene which shows her reenacting putting on a mask at the same time as Michael does was gripping (mostly because of how Harris played it), scenes of Loomis in her grill trying to get her to say where Michael was got to be ponderous. Plus, the writers drop a completely ridiculous ball in Halloween 5’s early scenes that the movie never recovers from. When we see Jaime for the first time, she is having a psychic connection to her uncle –who by the way is staying with a hermit while recovering from his wounds suffered in 4- which involves him stabbing said hermit to death. In the midst of her losing her sense of place, a nurse runs up to Jaime and frantically asks, “want me to call your mom?” So, which mom do you mean exactly lady? The one who died in a car crash 12 years ago, or the one I stabbed to death the year before? It is writing like this and inconsistencies like Michael showing Jaime his face while crying a tear from an eye which is somehow perfectly healed from a pistol blast taken in Halloween 2 that have no excuse being onscreen.
Still, I cannot completely tear down Halloween 5. There are some intense kills -Glynn’s death in the barn was the most well pulled off kill in the series since 2- and the sequence involving Jaime getting stalked in a laundry chute, while a little late in the game, was nonetheless gripping and phenomenally staged. But yet another mistake producer Moustapha Akkad made was introducing the idea that the evil which resides in Michael is not coincidental. We see the infamous ‘man in black’ get off a bus and kick a dog, And then, as if the connection wasn’t already a big ‘what the hell’ moment, we see the inside of Michael’s wrist, which has a tattoo displaying the Mark of the Thorn. This kind of set-up is just death for a slasher series that was actually much more enjoyable when it was simple. But we will get to those problems later.