Halloween V (1989)

“The Revenge of Michael Myers”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

GENERAL INFO:
Director:  Dominique Othenin-Girard
Studio:  Magnum Pictures, Inc.
Starring:  Danielle Harris, Donald Pleasence
Tagline:  Michael Lives, and This Time They’re Ready!
MPAA Rating:  R
Genre:  slasher, stalker, psychopath, serial killer, masked murderer
Scare score:  B+
Rating:  B+

Plot overview:  Recapping the final events of Halloween IV, this movie starts off immediately after Michael is thought to have been killed after being shot multiple times and injured by a dynamite explosion.  We see him narrowly escape and end up heavily wounded in a recluse’s abode where he spends the following year.  On Halloween Eve, however, Michael (Don Shanks) awakens and begins another killing spree as he tracks down his now-mute niece Jamie Lloyd (Harris).

This film is pretty much Part Two of the previous installment, as they encompass the saga of Jamie and her psychopathic uncle.  While it isn’t the greatest film on its own, I do enjoy it; remember, we have to look at is as a part of the whole.

Danielle Harris still does an awesome job in this movie, even though her character is mute for the first half.  The creative team has made an interested plot development in that Jamie is now connected to Michael in certain psychic ways – both sensing when he is nearby and when he is about to kill.  I’m happy Jamie herself hasn’t turned evil though, because having her as Michael’s little minion of sorts would (a) destroy the plot they’ve been setting us up for and (b) be pretty stupid, watching a little girl running around killing (without a purpose).  Every chase scene involving Miss Harris is extremely suspenseful and pretty well done.

Really quickly I have to mention how much I love the character Billy (Jeffrey Landman), Jamie’s [boy?]friend from the Haddonfield Children’s Clinic.  The kid does a decent though dramatic job at acting, and I can’t help but enjoy whatever it is he does to make Billy stand out as a child with special needs.  At the end of the day he is a good friend and a brave little boy, two things which are great to have around when your life has become a horror movie.

I love Wendy Kaplan in the role of Tina, both Rachel (Ellie Cornell)’s friend and Jamie’s subsequent protector.  Tina is such a likable and memorable horror movie character who adds not only personality to the movie but drama as well – she is a protagonist we absolutely find ourselves supporting and rooting for when survival becomes a struggle.  In many ways she is a personification of the rebellion, fashion, and carefree nature of the teenage girl in the ’80s, and because of that she reminds me of Lynda from the original Halloween, who was a similar personification of a careless teenager in the ’70s.

I warned you four movies ago, but Dr. Loomis (portrayed by Pleasence) is just awful in this movie.  His character is almost completely off his rocker at this point, making him crazed, annoying, and just frightening especially in any interactions he has with Jamie.

Michael has changed in this movie, making him even more distant as a character and persona than he was in any previous film.  I’m happy with Don Shanks’ brute size and body type because it makes Michael naturally intimidating.  Body language is alright, and while I don’t think it’s quite right or as good as the first movie, I think we sense more rage and sometimes desperation.  The mask seems different once again, and I don’t like how the hair looks puffy and dumb or how the mask is wide and loose around Shanks’ neck.  On the other hand, it seems somehow more blank, paler, and void of expression.  I’m always shocked when the mask comes off in this installment as well.  Certain events such as these lead to an obvious humanization of the killer, which is complicated as far as horror movies go because especially with the Halloween series I have read that there have been problems with viewers identifying more with Michael than with the protagonists.  Something interesting to think about.

Aside from his appearance, the creative team has changed Michael’s character here.  Instead of solely focusing on the pursuit and murder of his relative, Michael goes out of his way to kill off other characters who at times are completely uninvolved with Jamie’s plight.  Not only are there a handful of unnecessary deaths, but all of the murders in this movie are more gruesome and gory – which is always fun, but clearly done to satisfy the ’80s audiences who were suffering from a slasher overload at this point.  Still, you have to admire the extra-bloody murders done not only with hands and knives, but with sharp garden tools, a pitchfork, a scythe (my favorite), and even a good old hanging.

I was frustrated with the dramatic change of the Myers’ house.  Like you couldn’t find a home near the filming location that was remotely similar?  I understand they wanted a larger house for filming purposes, and that they settled on a big and typically spooky Victorian, but this certainly hurts the series’ continuity.  Aside from the house scenes, I really enjoy the barn and field settings at Tower Farm, which truly helps us feel like we are in Illinois/ the Midwest in late October, even if things look pretty green…

What was with the dopey duo of comic relief cops?  It was so unlike any previous Halloween film, and while I thought they were funny I thought their little bozo-the-clown-like background music was completely unnecessary, cheapening the final product of the film.  I’ve read that this was in homage to Wes Craven, so I’ll have to investigate first hand in a later review.  The ’80s were a confusing time.

*SPOILER ALERT*

The plot here is pretty straightforward, and even similar to repetitive at this point in the series.  We’re starting to rely more and more on the ‘idiot plot’ for the film’s action to make sense: why didn’t they check for Myers’ body after the explosion?  Why don’t they move Jamie as far away from Haddonfield as possible, even if only on Halloween, just to be safe?  Where in the world are the parents?  If characters have heard that Michael can’t simply be killed like a normal human, why do they remain close to his body after he goes down?  Why won’t Jamie stay in the car when the cop tells her to after they hear a large explosion?  Such is the life of a horror movie.  One thing this film does provide (but leave unanswered) is WHO is that mysterious man in black, and why do he and Michael have the same unexplained tattoo on their wrists?  Now we’ll have to stay tuned for the next film to find out (although this would take quite some time for audiences between 1989 and 1995).

While I enjoy this movie, I think it’s safe to say that the Halloween franchise was getting drawn out – though not quite desperate – after more than a decade of films.  Halloween V, to any viewer not familiar with the series, would seem like any typical ’80s slasher only without a reason behind the plot’s events.  Luckily this movie has its prequels and sequels to help support it.

Final critique:  We’re not done with the marathon yet, and there is still more terror waiting to plague Haddonfield.  This movie has its fair share of suspense and bloody murders, but all in all it’s a fun Halloween classic that really puts us in the mood for the holiday.  With a pretty simple plot, acting that isn’t horrible, and some fulfilling murders, I’d recommend this movie for anyone that isn’t a huge scaredy-cat or queasy at the sight of blood.  The remaining Halloween movies of the ’90s and 2000s add some modern twists and even refreshing humor to their standard horror plots, so when you kick back to watch Halloween V, soak it in as the last true and pure installment from Halloween‘s younger years.