Countdown to Halloween: The Legacy of Michael Myers Part 5

In anticipation of the upcoming sequelboot of the Halloween franchise, in which every entry but the first are to be eliminated from canon, I decided to give one last look at the whole series before it is banished into the Soul Stone for good. As it currently stands, the Halloween series has a pretty crazy continuity, complete with alternate endings, ridiculous retcons, and an unrelated anthology entry about magic masks that fill kids’ heads with bugs. There’s a reboot and a sequel to the reboot, both of which have multiple conflicting endings of their own as well. It’s a glorious mess, so there’s really no reason to treat any future story developments as anything out of the ordinary. No, Michael Myers has never made it to outer space, nor has he dueled with another horror heavy (although Halloween vs Hellraiser did almost happen) but he’s certainly been around the block enough times to merit an investigation into just what has kept this killer alive for so long, and just why we are now throwing most of his work in the canonical trash. I will be watching the entire series in order of release, starting with John Carpenter’s seminal 1978 classic which, for my money, remains one of the finest fright films ever made. Read the whole series here.

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

“Michael lives. And this time they’re ready!”

Director: Dominique Othenin-Girard (whose name was misspelled in the credits as Dominique Otherin-Girard)

Writer: Michael Jacobs, Dominique Othenin-Girard, Shem Bitterman (best name ever)

Stars: Donald Pleasence, Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Wendy Foxworth, Jonathan Chapin, Tamara Glynn, Jeffrey Landman

Michael Myers played by: Don Shanks

Plot: Having once again survived what the townsfolk thought was a definitive death, Michael Myers is back yet again to try and put an end to his now-mute niece. 

Review: Oof. This one’s a bit rough. It’s got fun moments for sure, and an ending that is absolutely bonkers in a way that I don’t even know how to describe, but this is a total mess. I don’t know what the hell they were going for here, but it mostly doesn’t work. It’s also just a bit too long, even at 96 minutes. This is an 82 minute movie if there ever was one. Let’s get into it.

As I understand it, Halloween 5 began filming using the tatters of a handful of scripts, each of them unfinished. The director was in constant disagreement with the producers, and as a result just about every event in the movie feels like it was shot with a 50 percent chance of making final cut, and as such, no one puts their heart into any of it. At its beginning this feels like a cheap cash-in on the Michael Myers image, and by the end it feels like a wheel-spinning middle chapter leading to yet another cash-in sequel. Why oh why did they stop with the anthology idea?!? There’s nothing interesting left to do with the Myers lore at this point (as if there ever was – he works infinitely better as a force without motive), yet he remains alive and deadly nonetheless. And really, with Myers specifically on a mission to kill Jamie, it calls into question why he kills anyone else at all. Giving him a reason to kill one specific person makes all of his other work extraneous. Jason had a vendetta against teens on the whole. Freddy wanted vengeance against the denizens of Elm Street. Michael Myers was once just an evil entity that feels nothing and must destroy. Now he’s a pissy older brother who can’t seem to focus on his goals. I don’t care for it. It’s crazy how Halloween, the classiest slasher of them all, has somehow become distinctly classless as a result of a tonally non-committal franchise, whereas Jason and Freddy straight up embraced camp and ended up looking that much better for it — When Jason got to outer space we cheered. Had Myers beaten him to it, we’d have rolled our eyes. 

Oh and remember how Jamie was revealed to have lost her marbles and become a killer at the end of part four? Well, that didn’t happen. It was either all a dream or she attacked her adoptive mother without killing her. The film has a hard time deciding which is the case, but one thing is clear: she is not the new bad guy. Also, she’s so traumatized that she can’t speak. She can mouth words, but her voice doesn’t work, which, as I understand it, is not how being in a catatonic state works (I could be wrong – I’m no Dr. Loomis). Whatever. We’ve also gone full supernatural. Jamie is now shares a magical mental link to Michael Myers. What this means is that when Myers kills people, Jamie goes into seizures and can sort of see through his eyes. At the same time, their mental bond gives him the ability to track her whereabouts. There’s also a mysterious man in black with steel tipped boots that has something to do with this, but we don’t really get a taste for that until the end, when the man presumably uses magic(k) to bust Myers out of jail. More on that in a bit.

It’s funny that the filmmakers decided that we have to be shown precisely how Myers survives his presumed demise at the end of the previous film in order for us to believe that he’s still alive. After eating hundreds of bullets and falling into an abandoned mine, the cops drop TNT on his ass. What the cops don’t see is that he crawls from the mine and into a river just as the explosives detonate, leaving him unscathed. Why we needed this moment when the dude already survived and explosion, a coma, and endless gunshots is a mystery to me. Even more mysterious is why the script needed to have Myers then go on to live on the docks with a silent old man for a year before getting back into things. Weird choices all over. 

The strangest choice is perhaps the hapless duo of cops who not only fail to move the plot forward in any way, but have zany circus music backing every scene they’re in. Don’t worry, they are killed. Sadly, their deaths are mostly offscreen. In fact, just about everybody is killed almost entirely offscreen. The violence is severely lacking in this entry (it does pop when it appears) but for a slasher flick, this is wayyyy too interested in plot and almost entirely disinterested in carnage. This would be fine if the plot weren’t so haphazardly assembled.

For example, at one point the narrative takes us to an empty barn that is filled with a litter of adorable kitties. There is a lot of footage of people just playing with said kitties. Like a lot. If I remember correctly, the cats initially provide a jump scare, but are soon forgotten once the teenagers who find them start having sex with each other and are subsequently killed with farm tools. Don’t worry, the cats are just fine. My guess is that the production team happened across a box of fresh kitty cats and thought “you don’t NOT put free cats in your movie.” And while they aren’t wrong, it serves no purpose. This is how the entire movie feels. 

Even the official subtitle The Revenge of Michael Myers makes no appearance in the movie. Every ounce of promotional material features it, but as far as the movie goes, there’s no mention of it. Smells like production woes to me. At any rate, the name doesn’t make sense. Just what is Michael Myers getting revenge for? Does he want to kill Laurie’s daughter because Laurie failed to be killed by him? That’s pretty weak. Vengeance being a cyclical curse is an invalid defense when you are the source of the original wrongdoing, which Michael Myers most certainly is. 

There are also two characters who I could only determine the fate of using extra-canonical wiki information. Young Billy may or may not have been run over by a car, and the distractingly gorgeous Tina, may or may not have been killed via stabbing. The movie makes neither character’s fate clear, and not for the sake of ambiguity either. It’s just cruddy direction. 

As for the music, I really can’t remember any of it. The theme pops in here and there, and once again it is credited to Alan Howarth, but there’s nothing going on of note. Plus, I am just too gobsmacked by the finale to think of much else at this point. 

Also, THEY USE A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT HOUSE AS THE MYERS HOUSE AND IT’S SIMPLY UNFORGIVABLE!!!!!!! It’s not even similar. Harrumph!

Best Kill: Mikey, the resident asshole boyfriend who defines himself by his leather jacket, his car, and his piss-poor attitude towards women is parking his ride when he notices a large masked man (guess who) scraping a hand rake across the car’s spotless exterior. Mikey approaches the vandal in anger and receives the same hand rake right through the skull. It’s some primo gore made doubly gruesome by the way Myers drags the fresh corpse across the floor. It’s the one moment of pure poetic violence that emerges from the muck. Watch it here:

Best Line: Loomis on the evil of Michael Myers – “I prayed that he would burn in Hell, but in my heart I knew that Hell would never have him.”  That’s some cold, dark shit right there. 

Worst Line: This one is courtesy of the two zany cops, Nick and Tom. It comes at a moment when they are taking the potential threat of a Michael Myers attack rather lightly. I forget which guy is which, so my apologies if I get their names wrong. Trust me, you don’t care.

Nick (incredulous): Someone could be dead right now!

Tom (apathetic): Fortunately we’re lousy cops!

::bumbling clown music::

I’m serious. This really happens in a movie that claims to be interested in producing scares. 

Mask: The face of the mask looks a lot younger this time around, which as I understand it was a choice made to give Michael Myers a bit more of a human feel. The filmmakers thought this necessary for the later scenes in which Myers comes face to face with Loomis, who goes full psychoanalyst on him. It doesn’t really work, but I can appreciate the attempt. What I can’t appreciate is how ridiculous the neck of this new mask looks. Not only is it not tucked under Myers’ collar (which it intermittently is in previous entries), but it’s flared out in a way that looks downright comical. In fact, the scariest that Myers ever is in this entry is during a scene that finds him wearing a goofy gangster mask instead. 

Dr. Loomis’ Health: Abysmal. We’re six years short of Pleasence’s real death, but it looks like he died five years ago and they’ve somehow managed to sew him up and Weekend At Bernie’s him into action one more time. This isn’t to say his performance lacks energy, just that the dude looks so insanely corpse-like that one wonders what kind of debt he must’ve had in order to continue making these movies. Maybe I’m wrong and he just loved being Dr. Loomis. It could certainly be argued given the manic intensity he brings to every line, including the ones which don’t require any intensity at all. And really, at this point, I am having trouble figuring out just who Loomis works for. He seems to have been shunned by everyone in the psychological world, and he makes such a habit of waving a gun around and getting people riled up and/or killed in the name of protection from Michael Myers that most people see him more as a sign of danger than Myers himself. And he’s just kinda everywhere at all times too. Almost every scene he’s involved in includes him just sort of bursting into locations that he shouldn’t be in and abusing young Jamie in the name of obtaining her help. He grabs at her face, shakes her violently, and spews truly terrifying apocalyptic monologues at about an inch away from her face. Anywhere you don’t need him to be, he’s there, and he’s usually causing trouble. Who pays him? Where does he sleep? Why doesn’t he just let it go at this point?

He does set a pretty clever Home Alone-esque trap to catch his prey, but even that takes a fair bit of madness to conceive. 

Lore: Rachel is now dead. Jamie is no longer the killer we were led to believe her to be. Loomis is the same crazy old coot he’s been for some time now. Things for Michael Myers are much much different though. It seems that some sort of magic has been cast upon him. Not only does he now share a mental link with his choice victim, but there’s a Richard Stanley-looking creep following him around town and watching his every move. In the end when Myers is locked up in a jail cell (“The national guard will take him to a maximum security facility where he’ll stay til the day he dies,” remarks one officer), it’s this mysterious man in black who busts him out and sets up a sequel. We never see the man’s face (although he is played by the same actor as Michael Myers), but we do see the aftermath of his big escape. The jail is entirely in flames, and everyone who was inside has been gruesomely killed. Did Michael do it? The man in black? Both of them together? We can’t be sure until I dive in to part six, but one thing we can be sure of is that it’s extremely stupid. Admittedly, I kinda loved it. Cuz at this point, screw it. Let’s see how utterly batshit this series can get. 

Author: Dan Scully

Dan Scully is a film buff and humorist living in a tiny apartment in Philadelphia. He hosts the podcast I Like to Movie Movie and is the proud father to twin cactuses named Riggs & Murtaugh. Also, he doesn’t really mind when Batman kills people. Follow him on Twitter and Letterboxd.

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