Thursday, November 10, 2011

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

When last we left the Halloween franchise, Michael Myers was finally dead, due to being shot a lot, and lovable moppet Jamie had turned evil, icing her adopted mother with a knife. So, Halloween 5 would be the first in the series without Michael Myers (omitting Halloween 3, which is part of the series, but not really part of the series. Continuity, I mean. Oh, you either know what I mean or don’t care, so let’s move on.) and would feature a pre-teen girl on a rampage with a knife, right? Not so fast, my friend…

The movie opens with a recap of the ending of Halloween 4. Everybody shoots Michael Myers repeatedly until he falls down a mine shaft. They then rush forward and drop explosives down the shaft, blowing everything up real good. They do everything they can to insure that MM is dead, other than, you know, checking to see if there actually is a body. There isn’t, because we see MM crawl out of the bottom of the shaft and exit in a nearby river. His body floats downstream until he is found by a hermit, who takes his comatose body to stay at his shack with him and his parrot. This is too obvious an homage to Bride of Frankenstein to be unintentional.

Meanwhile Jamie (Danielle Harris), who only managed to wound her mom, is institutionalized, rendered completely mute by her experiences. She is frequently visited by creepy Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) and big sister Rachel (Ellie Cornell). She also has a friend at the institution, Billy (Jeffrey Landman) who stutters. If the stutter fascinates you, please listen to the commentary on the DVD, because Landman and Harris go on about how much of it was scripted longer than you would imagine possible.

On October 30th one year after the events of Halloween 4, Myers wakes up in the old man’s shack and kills him. I couldn’t help wondering why someone would live with a stranger in a coma for a year, but I guess hermits are supposed to be that way. The fate of the parrot is unknown, which is surprising since this series is very hard on canine pets, with the fourth death of a pet dog coming in this installment.

Back in Haddonfield, where I guess people continue to live because of low housing prices, Jamie has developed a telepathic link with her uncle Michael, which would be more helpful if she could talk, since MM is soon butchering a brand new crop of the town’s teenagers. (Graduation ceremonies at the local high school must have felt like a wake.) There is also a mysterious man in black stalking around town, although we never see his face.

Finally, we reach the climax, when MM confronts Jamie, who has regained the ability to talk now that it’s too late. Before he can kill her, Loomis rushes in and saves the day. For a change, Michael doesn’t “die” at the end of this one; Loomis just shoots him with a tranquilizer gun and beats the crap out of him with a two-by-four. Jamie is saved and Michael is taken to jail, which seems like a Really Bad Idea. As it proves to be, when the man in black shows up at the station, kills all the cops, and releases MM. This is the end of the movie, which is an obvious setup for the next one, where hopefully we’ll find out who the man in black really is. I’m betting on Johnny Cash.

Up until now, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the series, but it begins to go off the rails here. It’s too much of a generic slasher movie, and probably seemed tired even when it was released. Most of the characters exist only to be killed, and many of them are the types who seem to deserve it. One of the girl’s boyfriends is supposed to be a “bad boy” type, but comes off as a sullen version of Fonzie from Happy Days. In keeping with the tradition of showing everyone in Haddonfield as a moron, there are two bumbling cops who are useless even by the Haddonfield PD’s dubious standards. They even have their own “clown music” musical cue, which is supposed to be an homage to the original The Last House on the Left.

Danielle Harris does a commendable job with what she has to work with, since she has no lines for most of the film, and has to show some variation of the same frightened face throughout the first two-thirds of the movie. Donald Pleasance does a good job of chewing the scenery, which is what his role calls for. Overall, though, I don’t feel very confident as I move on to the next installment.

Halloween 5 did reasonable business at the box office, but it was obvious the slasher genre it had spawned was running out of steam at the end of the 80s.

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