Combustible Celluloid
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With: Donald Pleasence, Ellie Cornell, Danielle Harris, George P. Wilbur, Michael Pataki, Beau Starr, Kathleen Kinmont, Sasha Jenson, Gene Ross, Carmen Filpi, Raymond O'Connor, Jeff Olson, Karen Alston
Written by: Alan B. McElroy, based on a story by Danny Lipsius, Larry Rattner, Benjamin Ruffner, Alan B. McElroy
Directed by: Dwight H. Little
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 88
Date: 10/21/1988

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Myers Ground

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

After the failure of Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), which departed from the formula, this sequel -- arguably the second best of the entire series -- brought things back on track again. Ten years after the events of the first Halloween (1978), Michael Myers is -- for some reason -- transferred to a new prison. He is, of course, picked up in the middle of the night in a rainstorm. He escapes and makes his way back to Haddonfield, hoping to find and kill his niece, Jamie (Danielle Harris), the daughter of Laurie Strode. Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) -- now with a hideous scar on his face -- pursues him all the way.

Director Dwight H. Little borrows John Carpenter's creepy theme music but can't quite copy the way Carpenter used Myers' silent, hulking presence. Here, his attacks come across like nightmares, suddenly ending with a gasp. There are a number of interesting touches, from a mob of unruly rednecks with guns, to Pleasence's hysterical line readings. But young Ms. Harris is probably the movie's most powerful element. She effortlessly earns our sympathy, and yet there's more to her than meets the eye. Harris became a much-loved cult actress, especially now that she's grown-up and pretty, and has been featured in many horror movies as a tribute to her work here.

Anchor Bay released Halloween 4 and Halloween 5 on new Blu-ray editions in the fall of 2012. Picture quality isn't totally dazzling, but is certainly above average. This is the first time I've seen this movie, so I'm not sure how new the extras really are. There are two commentary tracks, one with director Dwight H. Little and commentator Justin Beahm, and another with actresses Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris. There's also an 18-minute panel discussion with the cast and crew shot in 2003, and a trailer.

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