Reviews

'Halloween 4' and 'Halloween 5' Both Took Wrong Turns for Classic Monster Series Movies

It is sequels, maybe more than any other factor, that have led to horror films inhabiting a niche somewhere between porn and low budget action films in the low-archy of bad taste.


Halloween Four

Director: Dwight Little Dominique Othenin-Girard
Cast: Donald Pleasence, Danielle Harris
Distributor: Anchor Bay
Rated: R
Release Date: 2012-08-21

Halloween Five

Director: Dominique Othenin-Girard
Cast: Donald Pleasence, Danielle Harris
Distributor: Anchor Bay
Rated: R
Release Date: 2012-08-21

Horror sequels are often rightly seen as synonymous with junk cinema. By definition they are formulaic. Worse, from the perspective of cineastes’, they are generally studio cash cows. A successful franchise will pull in dollars on films quickly and cheaply produced, especially when they hit DVD.

It is sequels, maybe more than any other factor, that have led to horror films inhabiting a niche somewhere between porn and low budget action films in the low-archy of bad taste.

No one’s mind will be changed with the release of Halloween 4 and Halloween 5 on blu-ray. Although important for completists of the series, neither film has much to commend it. Weak special features make this an even more unfortunate release, taking away the pleasure of horror fans that might want to memorialize even the low points of the series with various documentary goodies.

Of these two releases, Halloween 4 represents the slightly passable effort. Its billed as the Return of Michael Myers , itself an important effort in a series that used its third film to tell the story of an evil conspiracy to kill the world’s children with exploding Halloween masks. Having our lunatic with a knife back feels comforting in the extreme after such an epic fail of a concept. Meanwhile, Donald Pleasence as “Dr. Loomis”, Van Helsing to Michael Myers’ Dracula, brings at least a touch of class to the proceedings.

Some of the elements that made the first film such a breakthrough are back. The opening shot evokes the nostalgia of Halloween, a holiday already full of dark symbolism. Carpenter’s original film had made the holiday infinitely creepier by combining implied threat with childhood hopes for full bags of candy and dead leaves blowing in the fall wind. Halloween 4 slightly evoked Carpenter’ original genius.

Unfortunately, the loss of Carpenter’s sure hand makes a mess of the film. Carpenter told a simply story of a unstoppable killer (‘the Shape”) who came to town to kill teenagers on Halloween night. Halloween 4 and Halloween 5 attempt to unwind a mythology of the Myers family, with Michael back in town to kill “Jamie” (Laurie Strode’s daughter) for reasons that are unclear. All of this is mashed together with an inability to stick with what works: Unstoppable killer, terrorized town.

Halloween 5 has its moments for fans of the series but also produces its share of the wrong kind of groans of horror. It opens where four, almost, leaves off. This makes much of the first 30 minutes feel like unused footage from the previous film.

Halloween 5 uses and abuses the concept of Jaimie having a psychic connection of some kind to Myers. This trope appeared in almost every single '80s slasher franchise, from Friday the 13th t o Nightmare on Elm Street. Why is hard to understand, given the amount of hared that horror fans have had for the conceit. It’s possibly just a feature of not really knowing what to do with the narrative once a couple of sequels have spilled blood.

Donald Pleasence shows up again for five. He has less presence than in previous outings and seems exhausted. Here his Dr. Loomis seems screechy and exhausted, mouthing things about the depth of evil and the nothingness in Michael Myers eyes and face. It’s like watching Pleasence trying to get into character on the worst day of his storied career. And of course maybe that’s exactly what we are doing.

The narrative itself is a spaghetti junction of a mess, introducing stories of missing dogs, teenage romance, Myers living with some inexplicable person who has a home underground and, of course, Pleasence wandering around in empty houses saying things like “Michael, have you come home.” Halloween 5 also contains the infamous appearance of the “man in the steel toed boot” whose meaning is never explained, apparently some foreshadowing of a narrative that was to never be. This at least shows the filmmakers were brimming with confidence about the future.

Of all the sins committed by this film, perhaps the worst has to do with the audio mix and soundtrack. In a truly bizarre decision, two cops are used for comic relief and a kind of whirligig keystone cops theme accompanies their appearance. This more or less destroys the experience of the next hour, insuring that whatever tension the film had perhaps hoped to produce has fled.

The Blu-ray transfer itself looks good, especially given that the print sources for these unloved films have to be limited. Please note that this is no digital restoration and you are unlikely to experience dramatic differences. The audio transfer has perhaps some added complexity but there are no radical changes to a mix that had little to commend it in the original.

The special features are very weak. On the disc for four, we are given a short discussion panel with Daniel Harris and several other character actors from the twin movies. This is actually hard to watch since so much of the focus is on how the panelists weren’t really working after four and five. At another unfortunate point, an audience member asks Harris if her character was named in homage to Jaimie Lee Curtis, a rather obvious “yes.” No, she asserts, but then adds that maybe it was ironic.

The commentary tracks are of little interest given that the films themselves don’t inspire much response from us. The disc for Halloween 5 contains a very short “On the Set” feature.

Notably, Halloween seven and eight drops this entire storyline. Laurie Strode’s given a son in Halloween seven and the story of Rachel and Jamie disappears forever. This perhaps offers final proof that four and five represented wrong turns in the series, moments in the life of a classic monster’s story best forgotten. These transfers are only for those most dedicated of Halloween fans.

4

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.


20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta



19. Antwood: Sponsored Content (Planet Mu)

Sponsored Content is a noisy, chaotic, occasionally beautiful work with a dark sense of humor that's frequently deployed to get Antwood's point across. For instance, throughout the aforementioned "Disable Ad Blocker", which sounds mostly like the creepy side of Tangerine Dream's early '80s experimental output, distorted slogans and recognizable themes worm their way into the mix. "I'm Loving It", we hear at one point, the Sony PlayStation startup music at another. And then there's a ten-second clip of what sounds like someone getting killed in a horror movie. What is there to make of the coexistence of those sorts of samples? Probably nothing explicit, just the uneasiness of benign and instantly-recognizable brand content in the midst of harsh, difficult art. Perhaps quality must to some extent be tied to sponsorship. That Antwood can make this point amidst blasts and washes of experimental electronic mayhem is quite the achievement. - Mike Schiller



18. Bonobo - Migration (Ninja Tune)

Although Bonobo, a.k.a. Simon Green, has been vocal in the past about not making personality driven music, Migration is, in many respects, a classic sounding Bonobo record. Green continues to build sonic collages out of chirping synths, jazz-influenced drums, sweeping strings and light touches of piano but on Migration sounds more confident than ever. He has an ability to tap into the emotions like few others such as on the gorgeous "Break Apart" and the more percussive "Surface". However, Bonobo also works to broaden his sound. The electro-classical instrumental "Second Sun" floats along wistfully, sounding like it could have fit snugly onto a Erased Tapes compilation, while the precise and intricate "Grains" shows the more intimate and reflective side of his work. On the flipside, the higher tempo, beat driven tracks such as "Outlier" and "Kerala" perfectly exhibit his understanding of what works on the dance floor while on "Bambro Koyo Ganda" he even weaves North African rhythms into the fabric. Migration is a multifaceted album full of personality and all the better for it. - Paul Carr


17. Kiasmos - Blurred EP (Erased Tapes)

The Icelandic duo of Olafur Arnalds and Janus Rasmussen, aka Kiasmos, is a perfect example of a pair of artists coming from two very different musical backgrounds, finding an unmistakable common ground to create something genuinely distinctive. Arnalds, more known for his minimal piano and string work, and Rasmussen, approaching from a more electropop direction, have successfully explored the middle ground between their different musical approaches and in doing so crafted affecting minimalist electronic music. Blurred is one of the most emotionally engaging electronic releases of the year. The duo is working from a refined and bright sonic palette as they consummately layer fine, measured sounds together. It is an intricate yet unforced and natural sounding set of songs with every song allowed room to bloom gradually. - Paul Carr



16. Ellen Allien - Nost (BPitch Control)

BPitch boss and longtime lynchpin of the DJ scene in Berlin, Ellen Allien's seven full-length releases show an artist constantly reinventing herself. Case in point, her 2013 offering, LISm, was a largely beat-less ambient work designed to accompany an artsy dance piece, while its follow-up, 2017's Nost, is a hardcore techno journey, spiritually born in the nightclubs and warehouses of the early '90s. It boasts nine straight techno bangers, beautifully minimalist arrangements with haunting vocals snippets and ever propulsive beats, all of which harken back to a hallowed, golden, mostly-imagined age when electronic music was still very much underground, and seemingly anything was possible. - Alan Ranta

It's just past noon on a Tuesday, somewhere in Massachusetts and Eric Earley sounds tired.

Since 2003, Earley's band, Blitzen Trapper, have combined folk, rock and whatever else is lying around to create music that manages to be both enigmatic and accessible. Since their breakthrough album Furr released in 2008 on Sub Pop, the band has achieved critical acclaim and moderate success, but they're still some distance away from enjoying the champagne lifestyle.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image