Monday, March 3, 2008

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

So here it is, the film where the Halloween series comes apart at the seams. While the franchise had wobbled a bit with the fourth installment, here’s where it really just fell to pieces, giving us a group of Keystone Kop wannabes complete with their own goofy theme music, a vast number of scenes of a little girl panicking or screaming or, often, both, due to her mental connection with Michael Myers, and a mysterious stranger in black who is not explained at any point in the film.

The movie opens at the climax of the last film, with Michael on the losing end of a shootout with the police at a very stagey looking graveyard, and narrowly escaping death by explosion. Near death, he is taken in by a kindly mountain man who slowly nurses him back to health, until we get the “1 Year Later” notice, at which Michael’s Halloween bloodlust causes him to rise up, kill his kindly benefactor, and make his way back to the town where his kid sister is still living. His sister, we learn, is now at a mental asylum, having not spoken a word since the previous film. However, now that Michael’s killswitch has been thrown back on, each time he goes to murder someone she suddenly gets all wide-eyed and starts convulsing, which at first would seem like a case of extreme overacting, until you realize that she’s opposite Donald Pleasance and nothing short of pitching fits every couple minutes will make her noticeable. Eventually she does start talking again, which quickly starts to make us nostalgic for when she wasn’t, but by then we’re racing toward the climax and To Be Continued ending, so it’s not that terrible.

I should say that there are some nice parts to the film, before I make this sound too much like I’m just an endless complainer. Donald Pleasance is his usual brilliant self, as one would expect, and just gets more and more insane with each successive film. There’s a really nice chase scene near the halfway mark where Michael’s sister is left alone in a building when someone comes after her, chasing her down into the boiler room. The ending to this sequence is a complete letdown, but up until then it’s quality stuff. There’s also a nice bit of work at a barn toward the end with some frolicking teens that we know is just not going to turn out happily, and in addition to being one of the scarier parts of the film, it also has a line that was later sampled by My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, which I was much happier than I really should have been to hear.

Despite all that, though, this represents an unmistakable nosedive in quality for the series, and one which the films never recovered from. The only one that I have yet to see now is part 6, which is supposed to explain who the mysterious man in black that comes to Michael’s rescue here, and why we had to focus in on his goofy mystic tattoo, but from what I’ve heard that one’s even worse than this. If you’re a die hard slasher fan, this has just enough good moments in it to make it worth your while, but everyone else should keep their distance.

Rating: * ½

No comments: