*. It seems fitting that Halloween 5 came out in 1989. It has that feel of the end of the ’80s. I don’t think this is just because of the generic New Wave girls either. The Halloween franchise, along with ’80s horror in general, was winding down.
*. I said in my notes on Halloween II (1981) that it was a very tired, half-assed effort, which was all the more remarkable for being only the second film in the series. Halloween III: Season of the Witch then tried to go in a new direction, but that turned out to be a short detour. Halloween 4 brought Michael Myers back to do his (only) thing, and was quite successful. So, if you’ve been following me this far, Halloween 5 plays a bit like Halloween II, being another tired-feeling retread of tropes that had just recently been revived.
*. What are those tropes? The POV shots. The promiscuous teens being cut down in flagrante delicto. The glimpse of Michael, the masked Shape, from a window. Donald Pleasence, not looking at all well, emoting for the ages while delivering the same lines about Michael’s blank evil. Cats (live and dead) jumping out at us. People running around screaming “Help me! Help me!”
*. I’m not sure Halloween 5 has much of a story or even purpose behind it aside from all of this recycling. Apparently they started making it without a finished script, which is something I can certainly believe. Despite all the formulaic elements it’s amazing how chaotic a movie this is.
*. This is the second movie built around the character of Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris), the niece of Michael Myers. And immediately we start going off the rails. Why make Jamie mute? I get the psychological block, as far-fetched as that is, but I mean what does it add to the film? Even Harris was unclear on the purpose, since she can still write important messages. But then when given that opportunity Jamie doesn’t want to say anything. It’s all very confusing.
*. Then there is the psychological link that Jamie shares with Michael. What is the point of this? One suspects they were thinking of something along the lines of The Eyes of Laura Mars, but they didn’t get it. Similarly, it seems director Dominique Othenin-Girard was going after a Psycho-like medial caesura with the murder of Rachel (Jamie’s mom), but Ellie Cornell thought it an odd decision and her death itself is presented in a perfunctory way (stabbed in the shoulder with a pair of scissors?).
*. Lurking in the background is the Man in Black with the silver-tipped boots. Who is he? According to the documentary on the making of the film he wasn’t mentioned in the script at all but was just dropped in to hopefully tie things together in some way or to help make sense of what was going on. Mission not accomplished. He just adds to the confusion. Plus his identity wouldn’t even be explained until The Curse of Michael Myers, which was up next.
*. Here’s a horror cliché that I don’t think gets enough attention. It’s right up there with the people who find themselves locked inside a house (something that may go back to the first Halloween). If it’s the middle of the night, where is all the light coming from that’s pouring in the windows from outside? Look at the scene where Loomis confronts Michael on the staircase. That’s not a streetlight. Those are stadium lights beaming in from outside. Where is it coming from? A lot of movies do this (I think I pointed it out in my notes to Don’t Breathe), but people usually let it go without comment. It’s something that bugs me.
*. The idiot plot is one thing, but it’s disturbing that the dog here is smarter than any of the people in the movie. The people really are that stupid.
*. You know you’re in trouble when you start imagining a better movie than the one you’re watching. About halfway through Halloween 5 I was thinking that it would have been a lot better if Dr. Loomis had actually been the killer all along, and Michael Myers was just some alter ego of his who died in the looney bin years ago. No such luck.
*. I don’t know if Halloween 5 is the worst film in the series — there’s some stiff competition — but I think it’s my least favourite. Not only did I not enjoy it, I positively hated it most of the time. There isn’t a single good kill. There’s no suspense or humour. The plot is a total mess. And finally there’s way too much running about and screaming at the end. I couldn’t wait for it to be over, even knowing that there would be no end for some time yet. Or ever.
I apprecaite you watching this so I don’t have to. These franchises where there no connective tissue between the films are a bit of a brain boggler, and I’ve not set foot beyond III in this particular one. But I can imagine, and as you say, it’s hard to work out how such a simple formula can create such utterly confused films…
The Halloween franchise in particular has been such a patchwork thing, with remakes and reboots and movies that skip over previous movies. It has its moments, but this isn’t one of them.