Monday, October 14, 2013

Halloween 5: The Revenge Of Michael Myers (1989)

Halloween 5: The Revenge Of Michael Myers
Director: Dominique Othenin-Girard
Starring: Donald Pleasence, Danielle Harris, Beau Starr, Ellie Cornell, Wendy Kaplan, Tamara Glynn
Rated: R

I prayed that he would burn in hell.  But in my heart I knew that hell would not have him.
                                   ~Dr. Loomis

Oh boy...Halloween 5.  I feel like we've got  A LOT to talk about with this one.  While this very very much a lesser entry into the series, I find discussing it pretty fascinating.  It's an interesting film to say the least.  But we'll get into all that.  I'll just start going with this and hopefully it weaves its way into some sort of narrative.  I'm sure Dominique Othenin-Girard probably said the same thing when he sat down to write the film.  I'm going to start with a compliment.  I think hands down, Halloween 5 has the best poster of the entire franchise to date.  So, at least you are the best at something, Halloween 5.  Also, your opening credits pumpkin carving is pretty badass.

Debra Hill made a cameo in preproduction and actually helped hand pick filmmaker Dominique Othenin Girard for this film.  Moustapha was in a rush to get this out the very following Halloween, so a cheap newbie director was the way to go.  First order of business was to play off and get away from the ending of 4.  They did not want to have Jamie killing people and wanted Michael back to do the same 'ol same 'ol from the previous films.  While, you can't say this film didn't take any chances, it did stay to safe and not want to do anything incredibly different.  The ending of 4 seemed to bring some sort of promise and excitement, but it was nothing like anyone expected.

Instead, we get Jamie as a mute in a children's institution having a psychic link to her uncle Michael.  Her foster mother having survived.    Danielle Harris acts the shit out of this movie.  I'll give it that.  She is even better than she is in the previous, miles better, film.  She fully sinks into Jamie and gives a head to toe performance.  When most people credit her, they are giving kudos mainly to 4, but I truly believe she gives one of the best child actor performances of all time here.  Unfortunately this movie is a waste for it.
For the first time ever, our main cast is rounded out by stock, generic teen stereotypes and subpar actors.  You can just feel the quality of this series just plummet the minute they take over.  Ellie Cornell is back, but unfortunately given an embarrassingly 80s "getting showered and dressed to music" scene before she instantly off'd.  I get it, we need to raise the stakes.  But, we need to A) Make it count and B) Replace Rachel with something of better and equal value.  We get neither.  We get TINA.  Fucking Tina.
When it comes to us Halloween fans, we have our list of annoying characters.  But easily topping out our lists for about 13 years was Tina.  I don't know Wendy Kaplan, I've never seen her in anything else.  But holy shit was this girl obnoxious.  This is the one character you want dead from the outset and you have to wait almost the movies length to get it.  And its not just the performance that is bad, the character just doesn't work.  She's this friend that Rachel has picked up in the past year and is soooo into Jamie in the hospital and such?  Like she's a family member or something.  This girl will leave the most awful of awful tastes in your mouth after watching this movie.  No character up until this point of the series has hit even close to this level.

Don't worry, Tina is just the leader of the pack of sucky characters.  Halloween fans have said for years that this film had sunken to Friday the 13th levels with its characters.  I disagree, no grouping of people in any Friday film has ever been this worthless.  We don't ever really know a lick about these people or what their purpose to any of this plot is.  The only thing you know is the scene you are introduced to them your mind is says "Yep, dead".  If this was Friday, they'd at least pad us with more of these annoying teens so we get a higher death count.  And then, there's those two stupid cops.  What in the hell is this?  While he does return, in the previous film we had Sheriff Meeker who was nothing short of a badass.  Here we get tweedle dee and tweedle dumbass.  To make things worse...WHO'S CHOICE WAS IT TO ACCOMPANY THEM WITH CLOWN MUSIC AND SOUNDS?  This is just how dumb choices made on this movie are.
Donald Pleasence came back yet again, but its said that while he was happy to come back, he wasn't happy when on set with with Dominique.  Hell, I've seen the movie, I don't blame you Donald.  Pleasence was rumored to just hang out in his trailer and get his drink on during this shoot.  His performance here is the peak of his most over the top and ridiculous exploits.  Loomis in 5 is more of a lunatic than Michael Myers.  Granted, he has some terrific lines here, including the quote I used which is one of my all time favorite movie lines (you get that, too Halloween 5).  When they were shooting this movie, everyone was under the assumption that Loomis had died in his battle with Michael at the end.
Let's talk about this awful mask, shall we?  This is hands down the worst mask of the series.  I don't know who approved it, but the mask and costume looks just like some cheap, amateur, High Schooler in their parents' backyard Halloween project.  The neck on this thing is huge.  The face doesn't even resemble anything close.  How in the world did this happen when they just got done filming the previous movie?  Just use that costume!  What in the world happened here?  I've never been able to figure it out.  Also, Michael's house is now a big blue palace?  Had Girard never seen Halloween before?  This is an awful bit of not giving a flying F and respecting what came before.  While the house would play for some good set pieces later, its total garbage in terms of this being the 5th installment of a continuous franchise.
The film promised to unmask Michael Myers, and they do.  It's just really dark or he's blurry in the background when it happens.  First, in a bizarre choice, Michael washes ashore to this old hermit guy with a parrot (in a retcon that makes more sense as to the end of 4 than 4 did on its own).  Michael then lays in a coma(?) for 1 year before coming alive and returning to Haddonfield.  The next is when Jamie "gets to him" and he unmasks to let her see his face.  And Michael frickin' cries.  I don't understand this choice.  Are they telling us there's still good in him?  Sorry, but there's no redemption for this ruthless serial killer.  Ever.  No, just...k.
The Blu-ray for this movie actually enhanced the film.  As Blu-ray gives you a better feel for the original theatrical presentation, Halloween 5 has taken a step up.  I used to think the film looked pretty cheap and really generic.  But there's actually some solid craft to this photography, and its actually quite a bit more bold and adventurous in its storytelling than 4 ever was.  Girard wants to bring back the stealthy, hiding in the background Michael to the series, which is a good intention, he just can't execute.  Michael is so obvious in places that its a wonder these characters or townsfolk don't see him right away.  The film actually does pull off two really cool set pieces that I think are among the series best.  There's to car chase at the Tower Farm which has a incredible pulse pounding sequence with Jamie running just feet in front of the car chasing her.  And then, there's the incredible laundry shoot sequence in the Myers' house.  For an inferior movie like this, it does contain some really great moments.
Now it's time to open the can of worms on the "Man In Black" and the symbol that the next installment would tell us is called "Thorn".  This is one of the things this movie has going for it.  There's this incredibly intriguing angle and subplot of a symbol on Michael's wrist and seen on the walls in his house.  To add, we get a new mysterious character in all black with cowboy boots wandering the streets of Haddonfield.  You keep watching this guy wanting to know more and where it'll end up.  It brings a sort of mystery to the series.  It's trying to bring something new to the table and not be that stale run thru.  However, what you see in the film is sold confidently and done quite well.  You can't wait for the next movie for them to reveal what this means.  However...Dominique Othenin-Girard too had no clue what the hell it meant.  This mystery stuff-the symbol, the Man In Black-was all made up on set.  And mainly because he thought it'd be cool.  Nobody, and I mean NOBODY knew what the hell it was or was gonna be.  For some reason, they just trusted Dominique who also didn't know.  I want to stress again...NOBODY KNEW WHAT ANY OF THIS WAS OR MEANT.  Random...all of it.  Don Shanks who played both him and Michael thought that maybe it was Michael's twin brother (a dumb idea).  It was all just on set theories.
Halloween 5 ends with possibly the biggest cliffhanger of the series.  The Man In Black shows up at the jail and mows down the police with a tommy gun and blows up Michael's cell, both escaping.  Jamie wanders through sees the aftermath and says "Noooo".  When I first saw the movie, I watched them on VHS back to back one Saturday day night horror double feature with pizza, soda and popcorn at my uncle Mark's apartment.  I didn't really get the movie as being inferior back then, just didn't understand some story choices and thought it was off a bit, but I really was captivated with Man in Black stuff.  The cliffhanger had me wanting the next one like NOW.  However, that ending would have horror fans waiting 6 years for the answer.  Would it be worth it?  Well...that's the next movie, so you know I'll answer it (and faster than 6 days)
I spent this article knocking a lot of Halloween 5.  And I'm not going to apologize, there's a lot here to be knocked.  I'm not stretching these problems out, they're right there.  However, the movie is pretty watchable.  It fits right in with watching part 4.  You kinda feel you have to after watching that one.  There's probably a lot of nostalgia in play for that, but oh well, that's on me and I'm telling you that straight up.  For a long time this was considered the worst film of the Myers movies in the franchise.  And for a while, nobody could really argue that.  Years and years down the road it would be relieved of that stature, but we'll get to that later on.  So yeah, that's Halloween 5.

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