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Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (Blu-ray)

Cover art:

reviews/bluhalloween5.jpg

Halloween 5 (Blu-ray)Starring Donald Pleasence, Danielle Harris, Wendy Kaplan, Beau Starr, Ellie Cornell, Don Shanks

Directed by Dominique Othenin-Girard

Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment


Having successfully re-introduced Michael Myers after a four-year hiatus, Moustapha Akkad was keen to keep October’s favorite boogeyman in the spotlight. So Halloween 5 reared its white mask just one year after Michael’s return. The results may not have been as successful overall, but The Revenge of Michael Myers (a subtitle that never appears in the movie) managed a nihilistic tone, a merciless final act and solid suspense setpieces throughout.

Picking up right where Halloween 4 ended, Part 5 admittedly doesn’t get off on the right foot. The opening scene is as ludicrous as they come, with a local hermit stumbling across the badly wounded Michael, readily accepting him into his care. Michael lapses into another one of his patented comas, patiently waiting for next October to arrive. It’s a ridiculous concept all around: Who is this hermit? Why does he thumb his nose at health care in favor of nursing a man suffering from multiple bullet wounds? Shouldn’t he have heard about that mass murderer at some point in his life, or is rural Illinois that isolated?

But once Michael springs back into action, the movie picks up the pace big time. It explores the traumatic effects that the events of Halloween 4 left on Jamie Lloyd (the returning Danielle Harris), who has gone mute since her encounter with The Shape. But she’s also fashioned to him by some kind of emotional link that allows her to feel his presence when he’s near. Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence, never better) sees this as an omen of his inevitable return and begs Jamie to help him find Michael and stop him for good.

What really works about Halloween 5 is that it’s largely unpredictable. The slasher subgenre often takes a lot of scrutiny for its inevitability; most of the time it’s too easy to pinpoint the final survivors as soon as they appear on screen. But Part 5 circumvents this by mercilessly offing a major character before the main story gets under way. By doing so it raises the stakes from the previous outing, taking away our little heroine’s “safety net” in the process. Without her “protector”, how is she going to survive this time?

Halloween 5 (Blu-ray)

Director Dominique Othenin-Girard isn’t afraid to put his twelve-year-old star through the paces, either. Whether she’s nearly getting run down by a car, stabbed by her uncle, used as bait to draw him out, or stumbling across the corpse of a loved one (in a fantastically emotional scene), Halloween 5 is a ferocious, downbeat experience that leaves you exhausted in its wake.

Othenin-Girard demonstrates an able hand with suspense – painting this sequel with plenty of tension. Early on, a girl climbs into a car with the person she thinks is her boyfriend, when in reality it’s Michael in a different mask. The scene is milked perfectly. Later on, there’s a barn sequence that takes a ”wait for it” approach, letting the viewer know these ill-fated partygoers are fodder, but without tipping its hand to how it’s going to happen. This uncertainty makes this a great, fun bit. Then there’s the car chase and subsequent pursuit through the Myers house (which is now a Gothic mansion thanks to Utah locales) with Jamie barely managing to avoid her uncle’s blade. There’s no shortage of assured moments here, making it a shame that Othenin-Girard didn’t carve out a career in the horror genre (I’m choosing to forget all about Omen IV: The Awakening).

There are some missteps along the way: The comic relief cops don’t work at all, resulting in an unfortunate addition to the movie. Thankfully, they’re sparsely used and have almost no bearing on the overall experience. A bigger problem is the now-infamous “Thorn” plotline which is introduced here, despite being kept purposely vague. The end result gives Halloween 5 something of an overly-serialized structure that cheapens the experience in some ways: Make sure you come back next year to find out who the man in black is, everyone! It’s obvious the filmmakers had no idea, deciding instead to inject an idea that the next group of filmmakers would have to address. Beyond that, it adds an unneeded air of mystery to a story that would’ve been better served by a tighter narrative.

As before, Danielle Harris is excellent. Halloween 5 looks to have been an extremely demanding shoot for her, and the amount of emotion she displays throughout continues to impress after all these years. A sorely underrated presence is Wendy Kaplan’s Tina. I’ve always loved this character, and I’m shocked when a majority of fans write her off as “annoying”. She’s a teenager in the film and, as such, acts like one. There’s a degree of obnoxiousness in her earlier scenes that’s perfectly believable. But the character of Tina changes with the tone of the film, and she takes to defending Jamie from Michael’s attacks even when it’s completely hopeless. It’s a part that actually turns the horny teen slasher cliché on its ear. Here’s a character who should’ve died early own (she wants to party and get laid, after all), and yet she rises to the role of protector when it’s most needed. And Kaplan has a line of desperation during the cornfield chase that is so perfectly delivered, frantic and exhausted, that it gets me every time.

Donald Pleasence delivers my favorite Loomis performance here: crazier than we’ve ever seen. Halloween 5 is when the Michael/Loomis foil reaches its inevitable conclusion (I prefer to think of his role in Part 6 as something of an epilogue), and the Moby Dick/Ahab allusion works incredibly well. This is Loomis at the end of his rope, and while it’s uncomfortable to watch our longtime hero dangle a little girl in front of our resident boogeyman like a carrot, it helps to cement their dysfunctional and symbiotic relationship. As Michael kills, Loomis needs to stop him. That’s all there is, and one gets the sense this would’ve continued for years to come (age of Mr. Pleasence notwithstanding).

Halloween 5 (Blu-ray)

Anchor Bay Entertainment brings Halloween 5 to Blu-ray in a terrific high definition transfer. This looks better than Halloween 4 (because of the way it was filmed, most likely) with crisp colors and excellent detail. Skin tones are natural, and black levels are deep and inky.

The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is also a considerable step up from Halloween 4, with dynamic sound FX and immersive music. Dialogue is always clean and well-separated, but surround channels are used to great effect.

The only new special feature on this Blu-ray release is an audio commentary by Michael Myers himself, Don Shanks (the box incorrectly lists this as Dominique Othenin-Girard, whoops!). It’s a jovial conversation with HalloweenMovies.com’s Justin Beahm that features a ton of great trivia from Shanks’ perspective. Great stuff!

There’s also a port of the Othenin-Girard commentary track (mislabeled as Don Shanks on the box) from the previous release, where he’s joined by actors Danielle Harris and Jeffrey Landham. I listened to this when it was first released and enjoyed it very much. There’s also a slightly longer iteration of the behind-the-scenes footage that was on the previous release. Rounding out this set is a vintage making-of and a TV spot.

I’m not sure how many of you remember this, but when Halloween 5 was coming out, there was a 900 number you could call and play a phone game to “help save Michael’s next victim”. The scenario was basically a girl trapped in a house, and you’d press 1 for her to run upstairs or 2 to go into the garage, etc. I’d give just about anything for that bizarre promotional feature to be resurrected and placed on a future release. Let’s just say I got in very bad trouble with my parents for as many times as I called it.

For my money, Halloween 5 is an unjustly maligned sequel. Yes, I prefer it to all sequels save for Halloween 4 – it’s just so damn dark that it’s hard not to love what they were going for here (warts and all). It arrives on Blu-ray with strong PQ/AQ and some supplements that fans should enjoy. Recommended.

Special Features

  • New, Blu-ray exclusive audio commentary by actor/stuntman Don Shanks and moderated by Justin Beahm
  • Audio commentary with director Dominique Othenin-Girard and actors Danielle Harris and Jeffrey Landham
  • Halloween 5: On the Set
  • Halloween 5: Original Promo
  • TV spot

    Film:

    4 out of 5

    Special Features:

    3 out of 5

    Discuss Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers in our comments section below!

  • Matt Serafini

    Author (Under the Blade, Feral), slasher movie enthusiast, N7 Operative. Plays games, watches movies, reads books. Occasionally writes about them.

    • LifeMi

      I used to dig Halloween 5 as a kid, but now I have a hard time getting through it. There are things to love (Harris, the climax), but the story is a fucking disaster and Tina is intolerable; I can’t fucking believe people actually like her. The review is great and it’s nice to see a well written defense of the film, but it’s only one of the better installments by default. I even prefer Halloween 6.

    • NYC-Hearts

      The 900 number!!! Holy crap, I thought i had imagained that. I remember seeing an episode of MTV News with Kurt Loder trick or treating in manhattan with Danielle Harris, which was then followed by a horribly rushed 15 second advert for the 900 number. I am very glad dread can vouch that my hazily recalled memories as a 9 year old weren’t completely hallucinated.

      As for the film, it was a clearly rushed production, to put it mildly. However, while it was saddled with some really poor script ideas, it had a few great scenes, a really great performance from Harris, and an utterly bonkers Pleasance. Oh, and Tina rocks. When the film came out, I was a kid with a 17 year old sister, and Tina seemed to be a real girl thrust into a bat shit crazy situation. I still agree with my assesment from 1989.

    • MonsterMash

      Mr. Pleasence and Ms. Harris are the only things that make this one watchable.

    • Terminal

      How does Tina rise to the occasion of protector? When Jamie is sure Tina is Michael’s next target, Tina completely dismisses Jamie in favor of going to the Halloween party and ignores Jamie’s desperate cries for her. That’s not rising to the occasion that’s basically getting what’s coming to you, and Tina thankfully gets what’s been coming to her for the last two films. Tina only sacrifices herself later on in the film and that’s barely a redemption for such a stale and vapid character.

      The only reason why she survives so long is the relationship the director had with the actress who played Tina. The character should have died painfully in the first twenty minutes of the movie.

      She could have easily been a Megan Harris type of character who seems superficial but becomes a heroine, but throughout the whole film she’s so utterly self obsessed, vain, and dimwitted she can barely recognize the inherent danger lurking around her.

      Tina is the worst character of the series, and that’s saying a lot since the series is cumbersome with annoying characters.

      The main problem with “Halloween 5″ is that it simply doesn’t have a stable adult character to even out the film. Jamie is more a martyr for Michael and Loomis is a supporting foil for Michael. There should have been another character like Jamie’s sister, instead all we get is Tina who is just awful and painfully annoying, and the many other forgettable characters she bounces around with during the movie.

      I enjoy Halloween 4 and 5, but Tina is an awful character. Defending her is like defending the babbling kid who gets the axe in Friday the 13th part five.

      • LSD Zombie

        “Tina is the worst character of the series.” Dude, have you forgotten Busta Rhymes from Resurrection?

        • Terminal

          Tina is the worst character of the series. It bears repeating. At least Busta fights Michael and tries to be a hero. Tina for the most part is a twat for the whole film.

          • LSD Zombie

            Yeah, he fucking karate kicks him out of a window. Sorry, I’ll take the twat over Busta-Fu.

            • Terminal

              Still more proactive than anything Tina does throughout Halloween 5. She goes to a party and ignores a crying child. Wow.

            • Masked Slasher

              The thing you hate about her is the exact reason I like her.

              Yes, she’s a selfish teenager. And it’s more appealing to go to a party than spend an evening with a crying child.

              But she doesn’t know that Rachel has been killed, nor does she believe that she was in any danger herself (she just thought her boyfriend was being an asshole in the car).

              She rises to be Jamie’s protector after the barn scene, by basically throwing herself in front of Jamie when it counts. I like that we see another side of her like this because, in another movie, this character would’ve been killed in act one (like you were advocating for). I think it adds a little distinction to H5 and we’ll have to disagree about that.

              I like your point about the film lacking a stable “adult” character, but I think it’s an interesting movie for that reason.

            • Terminal

              So you expect me to believe she’s been friends with Rachel and Jamie for a while and never heard about the life changing horrific event that occurred with a psychotic masked murderer who transformed little Jamie in to a psycho herself forever barring her in a home for mentally ill children and it never occurs to her that she may be in danger at any point when the child is trying to warn her?

              Nah, I don’t buy it. It’s stupid as hell. Tina is just not a good character. If she wasn’t shtupping the director she’d have died off immediately.

              And throwing herself in front of the knife felt more like a dramatic device than anything. Leaving Jamie without allies pretty much ups the ante on tension. It wasn’t redemption in my eyes.

              The film has no actual core character. IMO that doesn’t make the movie interesting, it makes it poorly written and sloppy. Tina is like a bustier Judy Tenuda and twice as shrill and not a character I rooted for at all. Everyone else was just interchangeable fodder for Michael to mutilate.

              I really only enjoy it because I love Harris and Pleasance and I have a weakness for slashers. Otherwise I’d have forgotten this movie a long time ago.

              Ultimately this is a three knife film, and painting Tina as an unsung hero of the franchise is laughable at best. She has no redeeming qualities to her. Ryan Merriman in Resurrection? That’s an unsung hero. And that movie stunk ass.

            • MonsterMash

              You’re not alone there Zombie.

            • Terminal

              People seriously like Tina? That useless lump of crap who contributed nothing to this movie? Are we going to defend the Leprechaun movies now?

            • Vanvance1

              I’ll third that. Rappers don’t belong in horror (excepting Leprechaun in the Hood).

    • Uncle Creepy

      A couple things about this movie drive me so batty that I can barely watch it without throwing a fit…

      1 (of course) The Mask. If Halloween 4’s mask was slapdash, then this one was completely over thought. Gone is the emotionless boogeyman, and in its place we have a mask which resembles a cranky Hasidic guy. I cannot believe no one stepped in and said… wait… that really sucks. It’s so distracting to me that it nearly ruins every scene Myers is in.

      2 Every single thing (including the horrid ending) regarding the Thorn / Man in Black subplot. The words eedless, silly, and pretentious come to mind. These factors nearly undo whatever good was accomplished by the fourth film IMO. People complain about how bad Halloween 6 was a lot, but what did they expect? They were left to play clean-up for the mess created by Othenin-Girard.

      But damn does Loomis shine here. He’s nearly as batshit crazy as Myers by this point.

      • Cinemascribe

        Yeah, UC, pretty much what you said here. I so very much wanted to like this film after being completely blown away and pulled back into the psychotic world of Michael Myers in the extremely entertaining and often scary as hell Halloween IV, but there were just too many issues too contend with.

        Yes, there are moments of suspense that shine in H5 – I thought the late night car chase through the brush was one of the best sequences of the entire series- but the cons just own the pros here.

        Aside from the design of the mask (Which I thought had Michael looking constipated: The features on that mask didn’t suggest psychosis so much as a desperate need to take a shit) and the weak “Curse of Thorn” sauce they served with this one, let me point a few more strikes:

        POTENTIAL SPOILERS.(I write ‘potential” because it occurs to me that anyone reading this has probably seen these movies ad nauseum. But hey, just in case those one or two people who’ve just returned to Earth after a thirty five year absence are popping in for a read…)

        – the production values. I think this movie looked cheap. I mean direct- to -video cheap. From that poorly thrown together opening title sequence where some one hacks up a pumpkin to the awful exterior lighting that coats everything outside the police station in the final scene, I found the Revenge of Michael Myers to be an ugly, shoddily photographed film. Carpenter didn’t have anywhere near the budget they had for this when he lensed the original and his movie looks ten times more polished.

        – the explanation of what Micheal was doing for a year. According to the narrative here, he slept on an old hermit’s couch. The fuck? Were the writers that stretched for ideas? Damn, man, say he was found unconscious and returned to Smith’s Grove. Tell us he wandered the countryside in a daze thinking he was an aging 70’s pop crooner or that he was abducted by elves and sent on a quest to free the Kingdom of Cheese from its terrible bovine overlord. Whatever. But tell us that SOMETHING happened. Passing out for a year is literally the definition of nothing happening. This, by the way, was the moment when it first really occurred to me that the movie might seriously disappoint. I was willing to pass off my dislike for the opening title pumpkin massacre as a matter of aesthetic differences between myself and the filmmakers and move on.. then,while sitting in the theater opening day, I actually processed what I was seeing play out with a train of thought that eventually derailed along these lines: “Oh, so after being shot multiple times and falling down the well, he crawled into an adjacent underground stream that carried him into a spillway which then dumped him near a riverside shack at which point he collapsed in front of an old guy who tends to shout at his parrot and is just now waking up a year to the day later…wait , what?”

        -The victims. The death sequences were fairly impressive..that was a rough and tumble aspect of H5 that I DID appreciate, the gore. But the people being killed were all (save for the Ellie Cornell character) cannon fodder and nothing more. At no time is there a truly memorable new character among them. We all know PJ Soles as Linda from the original..not to mention Laurie Strode and Dr.Loomis. Then there was Jimmy, the ill fated intern played by eventual Last Starfighter Lance Guest, who slips on a puddle of blood and cracks his skull in part 2. Even part 3 has baddie Conal Cocharan (hated that film, but he was a creepy guy) and four gave us little Jamie. But part five? Not one. The closest they edge to a character who at least sticks in your mind (in this instance in that bad, “iron spike shoved through your frontal lobe” kind of way) is an annoyingly angry boyfriend who is such an absolute dick for the all of five minutes he survives the film that I spent the duration of his screen time wondering how he survived to his age without someone -possibly his parents- beating him to death . I mean, even by the assembly line standards of slasher movie archetypes, these people had not one iota of recognizable personality (If the woman laying in the hay as she makes stupid baby talk to a cat in the barn was an attempt at giving her a personality, they failed) . These are the sort of characterless characters who you’d expect to find in a straight to video knock off of Halloween, not one of its legitimate sequels.

        – That ending. Open ended films can work if the shocking lack of closure the filmmakers are springing on the audience has been earned. It wasn’t earned here. At all. Think about this ..here we have a series which launched with a superb film that ended on the single greatest anti-resolution ever filmed: Six gun shots, no body, heavy breathing on the soundtrack. Roll credits and enjoy that midnight stroll out of the theater across the dark parking lot to where your car sits enshrouded in shadow, fucker. :) . Four movies later and here’s what they give us: Some guy whose face we never see shows up and shoots everyone with a machine gun. Big bad Mike comes up missing and a little girl cries. The end.

        Uh, yeah. This movie had a couple of bright spots but overall, no. Just..no. Michael Myers and his mythology deserved better . Even more galling is knowing that they did get better – much,much better – in the previous film. Nothing in the exceptional Return of Michael Myers suggested it would come to this only a year later.

        • Masked Slasher

          Nice comments, Cinemascribe. Appreciate the counter-review.

          It’s funny because your list of criticisms is pretty much the same as mine. The difference being that the rest of the film worked a whole lot better for me than it did you, I guess.

          The Thorn subplot really bothers me in this one. It introduces the concept (it’s a legitimate subplot throughout H5) and goes COMPLETELY unresolved at the end, making it a huge misfire. It’s why I pointed out that Halloween 5 has an aspect of “serialization” that cheapens the overall film.

          It’s different than the “hook” endings of H1 or H4 because it’s a genuine story running throughout the entire narrative. And in the end we’re no closer to knowing ANYTHING about the man in black or thorn. It’s bad storytelling because every subplot should evolve. We needed to know more about the ‘MIB’ if we’re to accept the final hook as is. But we don’t. It stays one-note and that’s why it doesn’t work so well.

          But man … everything from the car chase on is absolutely fantastic. And even beforehand, I think the barn scene is an almost perfectly-crafted slasher setpiece.

          And I actually like the female characters: Rachel, Tina (sorry Terminal) and Sam were all likable folks in my eyes. Fodder, sure, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t earn my sympathies.

          Anyway, sorry this turned into ANOTHER rant. Just wanted to say I enjoyed your review very much.

    • Jinx

      Thank you! Great review for an unfairly-maligned flick. I’ve adored this movie (and Kaplan’s Tina) since I was a kid. Can’t wait to check out the blu.