as cut in by Phil Fasso
Yes, that’s a 4. Before you start jumping on me about why I’m inducting HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS into the Hell of Fame instead of HALLOWEEN, let me set a few things straight. John Carpenter’s original is not only the far superior of the two, it’s also one of the best thrillers ever put to film. It is a master class in how to build suspense, and it ushered in the entire slasher subgenre. It’s a classic horror film, and deservedly so. But it’s not my favorite flick in the franchise it started. That would be HALLOWEEN 4, which introduced me to Danielle Harris, continued the madness of Dr. Loomis and starred smoking hot Kathleen Kinmont, whom I would interview two decades after its release. It also brought Michael back to the world, after a long layoff, so he could cut a path of blood through Haddonfield once more. And for those reasons, I induct it as part of DE’s Halloween in November.
Something about HALLOWEEN 4 has always resonated with me, and I’m pretty sure it generates from Danielle Harris’ performance as Jamie Lloyd. Little Jamie is not exactly the apple of anyone’s eye, as she’s keeping her stepsister Rachel from a hot date with Brady just by being too young not to need a babysitter. It helps generate much sympathy for Jamie that Rachel is a self-centered whiner, and I could understand Jamie feeling like an outsider and probably a bit of a weirdo. Danielle Harris excels in the role. She’s cute and likable, and she’s not annoying like the majority of child actors in horror flicks. Even at that age, she had a talent and a knack for genre work, which built her a second career when she got older. Michael is likely the main attraction for fans of the franchise, but Jamie is the star of the show for me.
As for Michael, he’s not too shabby here himself. At the beginning of the film, he’s being transported to a new facility. If you’ve seen enough horror flicks, you know where this is going. A pretty violent ambulance ride later, and he’s back on the streets, wending his way toward Haddonfield. Once he arrives, he brings about chaos and death, slashing and breaking his victims, and finding one crafty use for a shotgun. The mask isn’t quite as cool as the one in the first film, but George Wilbur does some quality work filling in The Shape.
Of course, Michael just isn’t quite as interesting without the other side of the insane coin, as future entries would prove, and Loomis is on top of his crazy game here. Donald Pleasence was so committed to this role that playing it balls out campy over the top seems like not only the only choice, but the best possible choice. Over each encounter with Myers, Loomis has gone further off the deep edge, and by this time, his third, he’s pulling out his pistol every time he sees a shadow. Michael Myers has consumed his life, and it’s now his unfinished business to send Michael back to Hell. This is my favorite of Pleasence’s turns as Loomis, all wild eyed and every inch as psycho as Michael.
What I like about director Dwight Little and writer Alan B. McElroy’s take on the series is how they roll with Carpenter’s mythology and have fun with it. I’m pretty sure they understood they weren’t making a classic on par with Carpenter’s film, but they respect the mythology and try to push it forward. There are plenty of throwbacks to the original, from Jamie wearing the same Halloween costume that Michael wore in the opening to Loomis’ unhinged pursuit, a new sheriff and his daughter and Michael pinning a victim to a wall. There’s even a throwback to the first sequel, with an innocent victim getting shot to death. But there are also some nice original touches, such as the development of Jamie, who should have become the series’ new Laurie Strode. There are some tense scenes in the sheriff’s house and on a roof, and a crazy first encounter between Loomis and Michael at a gas station. Little starts the flick with images of pumpkins and fields, scarecrows and other Halloween icons. This is a film in a franchise, but it has some flourishes that also make it Little’s film, and that’s great.
By far the best thing in the film is the twist at the end. With Michael dead and at the bottom of a hole, full of a thousand rounds and blown to smithereens by a grenade, Jamie and the other survivors are safe at last. That is, until Loomis finds Jamie in full Little Michael clown regalia at the top of the stairs, bloody scissors in hand, having slashed her first victim. His reaction is priceless in its full blown lunacy, as he raises his pistol and prepares to fire on her, screaming “No! No! No!” I know the producers were gun shy about getting away from Michael as their killer, having just watched HALLOWEEN III bomb in the eyes of the series’ fans, but it would’ve been glorious to see little Jamie become the next iconic slasher, taking her uncle’s mantle and slicing away with it.
Well, maybe that’s my second favorite thing. Because Kathleen Kinmont is in this film, and she embodies 80s hot. Sashaying around the house in nothing but her undies and her Cops Do It by the Book shirt, Kinmont is hot as an oven. Which is a crying shame for Rachel, because Brady knows where to take his high school lust. I met Kathleen once, at the Texas Frightmare Weekend back in 2008, and she was every bit as hot 20 years after this flick came out. We also had a long phone interview, broken up into several parts, where she was very upfront about her feelings on being nude in film and her marriage to Lorenzo Lamas. Any gal who’s romantically interested in me hates this photo of me and Kinmont. I can’t say that doesn’t make me love it even more. Come to think of it, I wore that same shirt today. I’d love to meet Kathleen again, and that has nothing to do with HALLOWEEN 4. Hmmmm… Oh boy am I getting off track. She’s also got a creative death in the flick, and her character knows she’s hot to trot when she tells a high schooler who’s checking her out, “Fuck off, Wade!” Kelly Meeker is a fun character in a fun film.
HALLOWEEN 4 doesn’t have the cache of the original by any means. That’s with reason, as it’s not the great film the first one is, nor the innovator. But the Hell of Fame is about our personal heroes at Death Ensemble, and this is my HALLOWEEN flick. You can disagree with that if you like, and if so, I encourage you to induct Carpenter’s flick in your own Hell of Fame. As for me, I’ll laud the tale of little Jamie Lloyd and the night the Shape came home one more time.