5. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

“We are talking about evil on two legs.”

John Carpenter and Debra Hill wanted Michael Myers to stay dead after Halloween II, but Moustapha Akkad wasn’t willing to let the money making machine that was the Halloween franchise rest. At first, Carpenter and Hill were involved with the movie that would become Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. Hill planned to produce while Carpenter co-wrote a script with Dennis Etchison.

Unfortunately, Akkad hated the script and wanted changes. At this point, Carpenter and Hill washed their hands of the franchise, signing all rights away to Akkad. Now completely in charge, Akkad set out to make a simple, effective throwback. Michael Myers would return, and he would target dumb teens. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The end result works! It’s nowhere near the original Halloween, but for the most part, Halloween 4 is a success. The film introduces a new element: Michael Myers’ niece, played by Danielle Harris. Jamie’s mom, Laurie Strode, is now dead, and life isn’t easy for poor Jamie. It’s hard being the niece of the boogeyman, after all.

Michael has been in a coma for ten years, but he wakes up just in time to kick the movie off and target Jamie. Also back: poor Dr. Loomis. Donald Pleasence is, as usual, wonderful, lending a real touch of class to the proceedings. Loomis is incredibly weary here – he can’t believe he has to go through all of this again. One of the best scenes in the film is when he tiredly implores Michael to stop; to leave the people of Haddonfield alone. Realizing his words are futile, Loomis then points a gun at Michael and mutters, “God damn you…” before firing. He misses, of course.

Some child actors have a gift, and others are annoying. Danielle Harris is thankfully the former, and she turns in a believable, likable performance as the awkward, terrified Jamie. When she’s screaming for her life as Michael comes after her, we buy it.

It all builds to a shocking climax. After Michael has been defeated, the survivors are trying to unwind and rest easy. But – seemingly out of nowhere – Jamie picks up a knife, dons a clown costume (just like her uncle did as a child), and stabs her stepmother – presumably killing her in the process. The implication is clear: Michael’s evil is part of his bloodline, and he’s passed it on to Jamie. The movie ends with Loomis literally trying to shoot this child to death, screaming in terror and rage as he does so (he’s overpowered before he can pull the trigger). It’s one hell of an ending, and it packs a punch. Sadly, Halloween 5 would ruin it, but if you want to, you can always pretend that movie doesn’t even exist and stop at this sequel.

Franchise Mythology Revelation: Laurie Strode is dead, and she’s left behind a daughter – Jamie. Also, both Michael and Dr. Loomis survived the fire of Halloween II with a few minor burns.

Best Scare: That jaw-dropping ending, where Jamie stabs her stepmom, is unnerving as hell, as is Loomis’ horrified reaction.

halloween 4 mask

Michael Myers Mask Rating: Bad. The mask looks incredibly cheap. I get it: Michael is returning for the first time in 10 years, and there’s no way he’d find the same exact mask. But what he wears here is flimsy and disappointing.

4. Halloween II (1981)

“Is this some kind of joke? I’ve been trick-or-treated to death tonight.”

None of the creatives behind Halloween wanted to make a sequel. But money talks, and Halloween was a huge hit. Eventually, John Carpenter and Debra Hill were talked into helping out with a follow-up film. The two wrote a script – while drinking lots of beer – and came up with Halloween II. In the process, Carpenter cooked up a plot twist that would change the franchise forever: he gave Michael Myers a motive.

We learn that the reason Michael is so hell-bent on killing Laurie Strode is because she’s his long-lost sister. Carpenter himself later admitted this idea was “Purely a function of having decided to become involved in the sequel to the movie where I didn’t think there was really much of a story left.” He would go on to regret its inclusion, and indeed, it does rob Michael of a lot of his strength. It’s much scarier to think Michael targeted Laurie and her friends for no real reason. That implies that anyone, anyone at all, could be a target.

All these issues aside, Halloween II is a lot of fun. It’s decidedly nastier than the first film – Michael’s kills are more brutal, more cruel. He doesn’t just stab and strangle here. He boils people alive, or injects them with syringes, or bashes them with hammers.

Laurie spends a good chunk of the movie out of commission, laid up in the hospital with her wounds from the first film. Meanwhile, Michael picks his way through the (oddly empty) hospital to get to her. Is it overly simple? Yes, it is. In fact, there’s almost nothing to this movie. And yet it works. The fact that the movie takes place immediately after the events of the first film makes it feel as if it’s part of that previous movie (even if it’s not as well made). The franchise has yet to grow stale, and watching Michael slash his way through hospital staff makes for surprisingly compelling viewing.

Franchise Mythology Revelation: Laurie Strode is Michael Myers’ sister!!!

Best Scare: The climactic scene where Laurie shoots both of Michael’s eyes out (spoiler alert: they magically heal in the sequels), and he keeps coming after her anyway is a wonderful touch. Not even being blinded is going to stop Michael from trying to kill Laurie Strode.

halloween 2 mask

Michael Myers Mask Rating: This is the same mask from the first Halloween, but it looks a bit different due to general wear and tear. Halloween II is set on the same exact night as the first film, but in truth, 3 years had gone by. As a result, the mask decayed a bit (and the hair has gone a bit reddish blond for some reason).

3. Halloween (2018)

“He’s waited for me, I’ve waited for him.”

Here is the sequel you’ve been waiting for. Director David Gordon Green brings Michael Myers back from the dead, and what a treat it is to watch. But this isn’t Michael’s movie. No, the new Halloween belongs to Laurie Strode. Jamie Lee Curtis returns once again, and turns in a fantastic performance, playing Laurie as a traumatized woman reclaiming her narrative. She’s no longer going to be a victim.

Halloween is similar (perhaps too similar) to Halloween H20, in that it ignores other sequels (in this case everything after the first movie), and has Laurie dealing with a bad relationship with her child. Here, Laurie doesn’t have a son, but a grown daughter, played by Judy Greer. Greer’s character, Karen, thinks her mom is a nut, because Laurie spent years living as a gun-toting survivalist, sure that some day, Michael Myers would return. The only member of Laurie’s family to have any sympathy for her is her granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak).

Of course, Laurie’s fears are founded. Michael breaks out (again), and comes to Haddonfield. The results are great, and scary. Michael is a force of nature here, bashing his way through one victim after another. There’s no humanity to this character – he’s a monster, plain and simple. And it’s incredibly satisfying to watch Laurie finally face off against him, and have the upper hand.

Not all of Halloween works, though. There’s a subplot involving Michael’s new doctor (played by Haluk Bilginer) that’s so bad it made me angry. And like H20, I hate that Halloween felt the need to focus on younger characters in peril when all I wanted to see was Laurie. But there’s so much to love here. Green’s direction is the best the series has seen in years, and the script, by Green, Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley, is smart, snappy, and yes, funny.

Best of all: John Carpenter returned to create a propulsive, thrilling score (along with Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies). This will be a controversial opinion, but I’d go so far as to say the new Halloween score is even better than the iconic original.

Franchise Mythology Revelation: Nothing after the first Halloween happened, and Laurie Strode is not Michael Myers’ sister after all.

Best Scare: One of the new Halloween’s strengths is how scary it makes Michael Myers seem. He storms through this movie obliterating everyone in his path. With that in mind, there are a lot of scary moments here. My two persona favorite: Michael reaching over a bathroom stall and dropping a handful of teeth he’s ripped out of some poor dope’s head, and a long tracking shot in which Michael stalks from one house to another, killing whomever he comes across.

halloween sequel

Michael Myers Mask Rating: Very good. I love that the mask looks like the original, but has been given creases and “wrinkles” to show that Michael is older now.

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