Friday, February 5

Some quick thoughts on Halloween 5 (1989)

This is what you'd get if you literally stuck a gun in Andrzej Żuławski's face and demanded it's the choice between either directing a Halloween sequel or his life. But, before I explain that, last night was the first time I have ever watched either Halloween 4 or 5. I've long heard that '88's Part 4 is generally well-received and I'd have to agree. After a seven year absence, IV is a solid, competently directed return to the Myers mythos with satisfying intrigue and not terribly-well-concealed echoes of Carpenter's original. Though Part 5, unleashed a year later, is much more interesting for all the wrong reasons.

Much like '89's Jason Takes Manhattan and '91's Freddy's Dead, The Revenge of Michael Myers is a real black mark on the franchise. Director Dominique Othenin-Girard is the prevailing issue who, either from lack of interest or talent (both?), constructs a sequel that provokes you to keep watching with jaw agape. Unlike the former entry's helmer Dwlight H. Little, Swiss-born Othenin-Girard introduces a rather European feel to Halloween 5. This would be great, if only the clumsy direction was markedly better. There's times where it's almost as if the director instructed the actors to ignore their marks and loosely inhabit the frame as they deliver their performances. The result is often times a lack of care in the composition of the frame, something dripping all over Carpenter's masterpiece, and too close close-ups that usually look blurry. Little's eye with Halloween 4 is no-frills, but at least there's a confident workmanlike sensibility to his sequel. Othenin-Girard just appears to be barely accomplishing the basics, badly pulling off some mildly interesting camera angles, and utilizing mostly first takes.

It doesn't help matters that scenes tend to go on for too long; whether we're getting real bored with the night's plans of soon-to-be Myers slaughter cattle, the elongated barn sex/kitten/farm tool killing, the bumbling keystone kops bull, or Michael driving around town. That's right, Michael tools about in a hot shit muscle car at length here. The Shape did drive in the original to get to Haddonfield, but you ask yourself "what the hell?" upon seeing him chase down Danielle Harris's Jamie through the woods while the Halloween theme plays. It's just like seeing The Fonz jump the shark--years before Rob Zombie was propositioned. Otherwise, Don Shanks's portrayal of Michael is good; however, it's ridiculous to believe Loomis could actually knock him unconscious with a few 2x4 blows. How in the world could the frail, weary doctor lug around and set up an undoubtedly extremely heavy chain net into the Myer's home anyway? Not to mention Ellie Cornell's Rachel, a character so central in Little's sequel, only to be offed early and seemingly forgotten about even by Jaime.

The one constant of quality in both Parts 4 and 5 is Danielle Harris. She does a great job as the young Jamie Lloyd. Judging by her performance, it was stupid of Zombie to not just have Harris fill the character of Laurie in his films. Donald Pleasence was spirited in Halloween 4 and despite having better burn make-up in this sequel, it's sad to see him so haggard here, presumably bothered he's in yet another mediocre Halloween sequel. The psychic connection mumbo jumbo between Jaime and Michael had more potential than Othenin-Girard's sloppy touch provides. Instead, what really cheapens Michael Myers is the tall and dark cowboy that points to the unstoppable force being tied to some cult or something. Ugh, a real unfortunate mess this one.


Anonymous said...

This film was definitely problematic. The thing that annoyed me the most was the two bumbling cops. I couldn't believe the director would stoop so low as to put zany looney tunes-like music whenever they would appear. Danielle Harris was the saving grace of this film for sure.

MikeE1111 said...

Danielle Harris is so incredibly underrated it's infuriating. Would love to see some more thoughts on Halloween 4 which I think is a real gem. you dare tread upon the staircase?

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