31 Days of Horror: ‘Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers’

Picking up with the closing moments of Michael’s death scene in Return, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers continues Michael’s fall in a hail of bullets, crashing into a mine. A deputy throws dynamite down the shaft, but we see Michael crawl out of a cave and float down river. He then makes his way to the shack of some lakeside homeless man with a pet parrot, before collapsing into a coma that lasts until the next Halloween. The opening has inspired eye rolls among some fans, but I always thought it was a nice touch from writers Michael Jacobs, Shem Bitterman, and writer/director Dominique Othenin-Girard. A throw back to the old days of the cliff-hanger when at the end of one chapter we see there’s no possible escape for our hero who has gone to certain death, only to see a different perspective at the beginning of the next chapter showing their inexplicable escape. And the old man in the shack taking Michael in is a nice call back to James Whale’s The Bride of Frankenstein, when the monster befriends the old blind man.

The movie moves quickly to the following year’s Halloween, where we find Jamie in a mental hospital with a deep psychic connection to her now waking Uncle. On top of that, we find out that the people of Haddonfield believe that Jamie is destined to carry on her uncle’s work after she tried to kill her adoptive mother the same night Michael “died.”

Overall, it’s a good set up and the movie moves at a fast clip, playing like a proper continuation of Return, without ever slowing down for lengthy re-caps or exposition. Revenge has a more frenetic pace than 1,2, or 4 and also marks the beginning of ‘The Thorn Saga,’ when we see (for the first time) the vertical line with a triangle on the side tattooed on Michael’s wrist and the arrival of ‘The Man in Black,’ who arrives in town via bus, wearing cowboy boots, black hat, and a black duster. Building off 4, when Michael is inexplicably transferred, the tattoo and The Man in Black are unresolved narrative threads until Part 6, and this is another point where the films are heavily criticized: were they just making it up as they went along? Well, yes, that’s often how storytelling works.

One thing that often hurt all the big slasher franchises was the fact that none of them were planned past part one. Carpenter didn’t plan to reveal Laurie was Michael’s sister. Cunningham didn’t plan for Jason to emerge as a hockey mask wearing brute, and Craven didn’t plan for Freddy to one day face The Dream Warriors. But the public wasn’t satisfied with a one and done, they demanded follow-up chapters and, in the absence of their creators, new writers and directors had to build deeper and deeper mythologies. Some sequels worked better than others. Halloween 5 isn’t a deep narrative by any means, and perhaps could have benefited from another rewrite, but as connective tissue in the Jamie Trilogy/Thorn Saga, it works very well.

Robert Draper’s cinematography is really strong, as is Alan Howarth’s score. KNB EFX Group aren’t given much to work with though, as the film is goreless with almost no blood, despite a respectable body count. Not that Halloween ever depended on blood and gore, but I have to wonder if the team wasn’t hired just to have their name sell tickets. One thing that brings Revenge to a screeching halt is the tone-deaf comedy elements provided by two bumbling cops who get their own clown theme in the score. It is never funny or welcome. Probably the biggest mark against the film is Michael’s mask. The de-evolution of the mask from Halloween 2 is famously bad, with part 5 being the second worst look after the ridiculous H20. Another glaring error is the Myers’ house. That’s not the Myers’ house. I assume Othenin-Girard was once again going for a more gothic, classic ode, but it’s a step too far, unfortunately.

Cast wise, Danielle Harris continues to do good work as Jamie Lloyd and Donald Pleasance has his most demented, Ahab moment in the climax. Don Shanks did double duty as Michael and The Man in Black and cuts an imposing figure, but doesn’t distinguish himself much from Nick Castle or Dick Warlock. The rest of the cast are fine, likable enough, and no more annoying than any other group of teens lined up for slaughter in one of these films.

The Revenge of Michael Myers works best when it’s focusing on the dramatic triangle of Michael, Jamie, and Loomis. Everything else, for better or worse, is filler. To me, the movie has aged pretty well, though, but works best when watched with 4 and 6 back to back to back. And in our next installment, I’ll tackle both the Theatrical and Producer’s Cut of The Curse of Michael Myers. 

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