The Halloween franchise went dormant for six years following the flop of Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Inevitably, it was deemed to be the fault of deviating from the slasher formula so the solution was to just go back to what they were doing before.
As the title suggests, Halloween 4 features the return of Michael Myers and the slasher template, but did not see John Carpenter or Debra Hill back in any creative capacity.
The excuse given to explain his return is that he somehow survived the explosion at the end of Halloween II, but has been comatose for a decade. On the ten year anniversary of his initial killing spree, the decision has been made to transfer him by ambulance (you’d think someone might have thought this was a bad idea no?). Of course, he awakens and begins killing everyone in sight. To be fair, Halloween 4 doesn’t waste any time in getting down to business, with a number of gruesome kills in the opening act.
What triggers Michael’s awakening is the news that he has a niece (and a crappy looking new mask). Jamie Lee Curtis had declined to reprise her role so the Laurie Strode character is said to have died in a car accident before this film begins. She left behind a daughter called Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) who now lives with a foster family in Haddonfield.
This was the first film in the series to have me wondering more about just what Michael’s motives are supposed to be. He seems driven by the desire to kill all his family members, and as in most of these movies there’s just one of them, what would he do once he achieves this goal? I’m curious if any of the screenwriters ever came up with an answer to this.
Someone who doesn’t seem to know is Dr Loomis (Donald Pleasance, gamely reprising the role now with added facial scars). He again returns to Haddonfield once he learns of Michael’s escape to try and warn the residents.
Halloween 4 in an unexceptional slasher movie, but it’s a competent one. The pacing is good in the first half and for the most part it delivers what a movie like this should. It does get a little less engaging in its latter half, and the new teenage characters are all completely bland and forgettable. I do have to give it one more credit though, it boasts a great final scene that intentionally echoes the opening of the original. It was mildly foreshadowed and exactly how I wanted the movie to end once I caught wind of it.