Release Date(s)1989 (September 23, 2014)
Studio(s)Trancas (Anchor Bay/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: C-
- Video Grade: B
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: A-
Very few people would accuse Halloween 4 of being a horror classic but it was an effective, somewhat better than average slasher flick. It capably performed its primary mission, reintroducing Michael Myers to the screen, added some appealing new characters in the forms of Michael’s niece, Jamie (Danielle Harris), and her foster sister Rachel (Ellie Cornell), and concluded with a twist that could have either launched the series in an interesting new direction or wrapped things up entirely.
The first sign of trouble with Halloween 5 (no subtitle on the movie itself, by the way) comes when nearly all of the good work accomplished by the previous entry is completely undone within the first 15 minutes. Michael is not as dead as we’d been led to believe. He washed downriver apiece, was taken in by an old hermit and spent a year (of course) recuperating. Little Jamie, traumatized by what she did in the last movie, has lost the power of speech…and apparently the need to repeat or even think about her actions ever again. But she’s gained a telepathic bond with her uncle that Dr. Loomis (an increasingly disinterested Donald Pleasence) intends to exploit to track him down.
As for Rachel, who proved to be a pretty decent stand-in for Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode in the last movie, she’s killed off early on. This isn’t a spoiler. If anything, given how unceremoniously she’s dispatched, it’s a clarification. In her place, we get Wendy Kaplan as Tina, the living embodiment of hyperactive 1980s teen girls. Her ascent into the leading role is handled kind of clumsily. She’s introduced as Rachel’s best friend but nobody seems to notice or care that Rachel has disappeared. It’s almost as if Rachel was killed by mistake and a supporting character became the star by default.
Frankly, it wouldn’t even surprise me if that turned out to be true. Very little about Halloween 5 seems like the result of careful planning and design. It feels like the shooting schedule was written before the script and not a lot of thought went into either. Characters wander in and out as if they might be on their way to another movie, such as the two bumbling cops (I fully expected one of them to remark, “Why do I always get stuck with these spook details?”) and the infamous Man in Black. The Man in Black is literally bussed into the movie about halfway through, wanders around Haddonfield in his stylish steel-toed boots, and…well, I don’t want to ruin the ending for you. Let’s just say it’s not unreasonable to expect him to show up again next time.
The Complete Collection disc is presumably much the same as Anchor Bay’s previous Blu-ray release. It’s a solid transfer, clean, detailed and colorful, and a relatively lively and robust Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio mix. Extras on the disc include an audio commentary by Don Shanks, Halloween 5’s Michael Myers, in conversation with author Justin Beahm. A second commentary with director Dominique Othenin-Girard and actors Danielle Harris and Jeffrey Landman is collegial but not much more than that. You also get a 16-minute On The Set featurette (featuring a quick glimpse at a deleted scene), a 6-minute promo for theatre owners and the original trailer.
H5-centric special features on the Complete Collection bonus disc include the Inside Halloween 5 featurette and the brand new documentary Dead Man’s Party: The Making Of Halloween 5. I really enjoyed the new doc with candid comments from the cast and crew (the director, who gets thrown under the bus a little bit, is conspicuously absent) and fun home movie footage of the cast and crew, including make-up effects artist Greg Nicotero, partying in their Utah hotel. The disc also includes TV spots, a still gallery, and a new episode of Sean Clark’s Horror’s Hallowed Grounds.
Halloween 5 isn’t a terrible movie, although at times it does a very good impression of one. But it is the textbook definition of the term “quickie sequel”. It has a couple of good things going for it, a whole lot of bad things working against it, and just enough completely inexplicable things crammed randomly throughout it. I can’t exactly recommend this movie but I wouldn’t discourage curiosity-seekers away from it, either.
- Adam Jahnke
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