In this humble horror writer’s opinion, Halloween is not only the best Halloween set film ever made. It’s also one of the best horror films ever made. A statement backed up by the rest of our contributors who placed it at the top of both our Halloween and Horror Top Ten lists.
The Halloween sequels however are another story, and one that usually divides opinion. Halloween 2, written by John Carpenter, follows straight on from his amazing original, continuing the story of the masked maniac Michael Myers and his obsession with teenager Laurie Strode (played with aplomb by Jamie Lee Curtis).
Halloween 3: Season of the Witch is a whole different movie, with nothing to do with the original films at all. The film even features a clip of the first Halloween on TV at one point to further emphasise its detachment from the menace of Myers.
There are some who hate Halloween 2 and others who love it. I for one fall into the latter camp, believing to be an underrated piece of horror cinema, which delivers some terrifying scares whilst being excitingly original. Season of the Witch however did not fair so well, with audiences confused by the threequel title and the film’s lack of the original main elements and characters.
And so we come to the 1988 movie Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, the title of which sums up the redirected focus of the film and the reemergence of the Myers as the main villain of the piece.
Set a decade after the first two films, it follows Jamie Lloyd (a very young Danielle Harris) the daughter of Laurie Strode and Myers’ niece. Growing up with her foster family in Haddonfield she is a sad and confused child whose main friend is her older foster sister Rachel (Ellie Cornell), who knows little of the disturbing past that haunted her mother.
All that is about to change however, as Myers escapes the mental institute that was holding him and heads back to his home town on the eve of Halloween to carry on the bloody job that he never managed to finish.
If Halloween 3 attempted to offer an audience a whole new Halloween, director Dwight H. Little makes sure that Halloween 4 is a return to the familiar and the formulaic, which doesn’t happen to be a bad thing at all.
Throwing in all Carpenter’s original elements, from the killer POV, the original setting, new yet familiar teenage victims and iconic the theme, the most important and fantastic fundamental feature is Donald Pleasence as Dr. Loomis – the original slasher Ahab, as deranged and determined as ever to stop the unstoppable Myers.
Loomis’ star turn added to Danielle Harris’s excellent performance (which proves her as a future horror star) carry the film along whilst allowing the audience to excuse the other genre conventions and unoriginal characters.
Opting for creeping tension and a slow build, rather than a high body count, unlike most slasher sequels, there are some solid scares if perhaps not enough deaths. That said, the climax is worth the wait with a brilliant ending which ties the movie up with the previous installments and a horrific act of history repeating itself.
Well worth a watch, especially for Halloween fans, this is an above average sequel which gives you more of what you want and what you expect. Considering the quality of most movies when they reach their fourth part, that’s no mean feat.