Either Halloween 5: The Revenge Of Michael Myers is the cleverest film in the whole franchise or the stupidest.
Assuming the number of conflicting, contrasting fingerprints found on the script, as well as the obvious links to Rob Zombie’s ‘memorable’ Halloween 2 (Danielle Harris returning not as Jamie Lloyd, but victim-in-waiting Annie Brackett, a relative with a psychic connection to Myers) are an obvious mark of quality and not a clear sign that the movie is a complete mess of rehashed story ideas, dull slasher archetypes and baffling narrative choices, there’s a strong case to be made that Halloween 5: The Revenge Of Michael Myers is the most thought-provoking treatise on society’s attitudes to mental illness since Dustin Hoffman provoked his first lip tremble in Rain Man.
In Omen IV: The Awakening director Dominique Othenin-Girard’s effective satire, just who is the dangerous psychopath – masked serial killer Myers (Don Shanks) or any number of supposedly rational supporting characters?
There’s the obviously deranged Doctor Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) who limps around with a handgun in his whites and shakes children for information – he’s clearly mad. There’s the children’s’ hospital, who employ this badly scarred psycho hunting Captain Ahab – they must be out of their tree. There’s Sheriff Ben Meeker (Beau Starr), who in Halloween 4 exhibited uncommon sense for an authority figure in a slasher movie and attempted to barricade himself and the potential victims in his fortress home – this time he agrees to Loomis’ clearly awful plan of taking a traumatised school girl to the old Myers home and using her as bait – that’s definitely the act of someone not in possession of their faculties. Then there’s the obligatory teenage douchebags – one who can’t tell the difference between her boyfriend in a mask and Myers (a gag clumsily rehashed from the first film, incidentally) despite him being at least foot shorter, and a prick who thinks dressing as Myers and then running at two jittery cops is a pretty hilarious prank that couldn’t possibly end with him being gunned down – their synapses are firing all kinds of wrong.
Then there’s society itself, the good people of poor, beleaguered Haddonfield, Illinois, who despite the local tradition for autumnal bloodshed, simply can’t wait to get in costume and party hard on an isolated farm come Halloween, despite the body count only the previous year being in double digits.
Poor old Michael meanwhile comes over terribly sympathetic, as the movie begins (via a retconned recap of the previous effort) with him escaping from the angry Haddonfielders like the eternally misunderstood Frankenstein’s monster fleeing from villagers who allowed their prejudice to turn to hate. He even spends the first third of the film hanging around in daylight, which sort of takes some of the edge off, and visibly softens in the presence of his niece Jamie, whose psychic link promises to “silence the rage” and free Mikey from the prison that is the diminished returns of an increasingly overwrought horror cash cow, removing his mask and squeezing out a tear from his baby blues. It’s all terribly affecting stuff as we wonder further just who’ the monster, who’s mad and who is the victim.
Finally springing his trap, Loomis drops a net/chain combo on Myers and shoots him several times with tranquillizer darts, non-lethal options exhausted he then hits him with a plank of wood while screaming “DIE! DIE! DIE!”
Perhaps in this scenario, Loomis represents our conflicting kill or cure approach to behaviour we see as aberrant – while our brain says we should reach out, our instincts say we should cast out. Loomis’ scarred face is an effective visual metaphor for the conflict between reason and reaction.
Or maybe it’s not a satire asking big questions about sanity and social norms; maybe it’s just dreadfully written, rambling nothing where poor character decisions and contrary dialogue is urgently required to rush the plot along to its next set piece fatality at the expense of internal logic. The bare bones, like the film that came before it, have a glint of inspiration being smothered by the cliche – and that’s perhaps why Rob Zombie felt they needed a better shot at representing the franchise with Halloween 2.
When people piss and moan about horror reboots, they need to remember that today’s filmmakers aren’t doing it because they hate the original; they’re doing it because they hate its legacy. They hate that a great piece of filmmaking was trussed up like a scarecrow by cheapjack producers with empty pockets and emptier heads, and figure they can’t possibly do any worst by it.
It’s a shame that Halloween 2 was absolutely terrible, mind you, as that sort of undermines the argument.