The Horror Honeys: Slasher Hexmas: Uncle Mikey Is Back!

Slasher Hexmas: Uncle Mikey Is Back!

A Sci-Fi Honey Slasher Hexmas Review by Katie

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) &  Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

Halloween (1978) was a revolutionary slasher movie, and a seminal work for the overall horror genre; Halloween II (1981) was meant to be its conclusion, closing the chapter on the fateful night when Michael Myers sliced and diced his way through the town of Haddonfield, IL. Then came the contentious Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982): a fulfillment of John Carpenter’s original vision that each film in the franchise tell a different story about the holiday. While it’s now regarded by many horror fans as a cult classic in its own right, Season of the Witch will also forever be known as that Halloween movie without Michael. The solution? Resurrect Michael for two more back-to-back sequels, 1988’s Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, and the following year’s Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. If one and two are companion pieces and three stands alone, four and five earn the distinction of being the next double-feature slasher in the Myers saga. But are the films worthy of Michael’s resurgence in horror pop culture, and do they succeed at adding anything new to his chronicle of carnage?

When we last left Michael in Halloween II, he had been shot in both of his eyes and blown up by Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance), who presumably died along with him in a murder/suicide. Such trifling things don’t stop these characters, as Halloween 4 would demonstrate: both Michael and Loomis have survived the inferno from ten years prior. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has since died in a car accident, but her eight-year-old daughter (aptly named ‘Jamie’, played by Danielle Harris) carries on in Haddonfield with her foster family and the murderous Myers genes coursing through her tiny body. Michael hears this news and awakens from his coma to come back to Haddonfield and execute his only living relative – while Loomis is not far behind, raving about “pure evil” and firing his gun willy-nilly at anything masked within shooting distance. Same old Looney Loomis.

Do ya feel lucky, punk?
You could moan and groan about the number of convenient plot devices in Halloween 4 that are introduced solely to carry on the franchise, or you can just go with it. Sure, Michael and Loomis survived that un-survivable scenario, and Michael suddenly has yet another relative he has to kill. It’s clear that the filmmakers behind Halloween 4 were attempting to recreate what viewers found so scary and compelling about the first two films – even if it means imitating the exact storyline, with ‘Jamie’ as a stand-in for Jamie Lee. What’s unique about this sequel, however, is that it explores the ‘nature versus nurture’ concept of killers being as genetically predisposed to violence as they are to having a certain eye color. Sweet-faced child Michael of the original film was so terrifying because he appeared to come from a loving home, and yet he brutally murdered his sister with seemingly no provocation. This terrifying notion was marred by Rob Zombie’s version of events in his Halloween reimagining, which depicts Michael growing up in an abusive environment and leans toward the ‘nurture’ side of the debate. Halloween 4 is notable for at least reverting to the ‘nature’ argument of the original film, hinting that Jamie has homicidal tendencies of her own that she inherited from her Uncle Michael. Intriguing as it may be, the crux of this idea isn’t fully realized until the end of Halloween 4, leaving many things up in the air – and thus, a jumping-off point for a sequel. 

... or does Jamie need her own series?
It’s a shame, then, that the follow-up to Halloween 4 had to squander the most original idea from its predecessor right off the bat. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers was released almost exactly one year later, and also takes place one year after the events of the fourth installment. Michael had gone down in a hail of bullets and fell down a mine shaft (which was then detonated with TNT), but the guy is remarkably resilient – and thanks to a kindly old hermit, he’s nursed back to health until the following trick-or-treating season. Young Jamie resides in a children's hospital and has gone mute since experiencing the bloodshed from last year, but no longer is she predisposed to killing due to her particular family history. Jamie now merely shares a psychic connection to her sinister uncle, occasionally having convulsive fits and visions of his intended victims. Looney Loomis swoops in and enlists Jamie to help him lure Michael to his capture, where he is promptly arrested and sent to jail. Of course, he doesn’t stay there for long – we need another sequel, after all.

"I'll get you next time, Loomis!"
The biggest disappointment with both of these films is the way they wasted the potential to carry on the franchise with new blood. Jamie could have been Michael’s cohort or even his predecessor, taking the ‘nature’ concept to the utmost extreme and exploring whether or not she has a chance at a normal life. The closing image in Halloween 4 – Jamie standing in young Michael’s crimson-spattered clown costume, bloodied scissors in hand – is a powerful callback to the original film’s reveal of Michael’s angelic face after he’d committed his first brutal murder. Instead, this plot point was given a perfunctory write-off that ultimately sent Halloween 5 into generic and gratuitously gory slasher territory. Harris acts her little heart out as young Jamie, but the filmmakers never took her character to a place as dark or complex as she could have gone. The resulting pair of films that form the center of the Halloween franchise introduces a bold new direction for the series, and then halts before taking a single step. It’s a shame that no one involved with the making of Return and Revenge were brave enough to truly lead us into the darkness.

Sci-Fi Honey Rating:

Halloween 4 - Three murderous nieces out of five.
Halloween 5 - Two telepathic nieces out of five.

What is YOUR favorite Halloween sequel?
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