by Eric D. Snider
Released: October 13, 1989
(Reviewed in 2002 as part of a retrospective on the "Halloween" series.)
Donald Pleasence gets his name above the title in "Halloween 5." After turning in brilliant performances in such noteworthy films as "Halloween" and, um, "Halloween II," he finally got his due with "Halloween 5." Surely upon being told the news, he retired to his trailer and drank bourbon until he passed out.
(I don't know if Donald Pleasence was really an alcoholic or not. But looking at him, I can't imagine him being anything else. He face looks genetically predisposed to being pressed against a barroom floor.)
The posters for this movie called it "Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers," but the onscreen title is simply "Halloween 5," which is good, since Michael doesn't really get revenge on anybody in it. Kills some folks, sure, but they're mostly strangers, not people he had vendettas against. In fact, the two people he would have the most reason to kill -- Dr. Loomis and little Jamie -- are the two people he DOESN'T murder. "Halloween 5: The Failure of Michael Myers" would be more accurate, though admittedly not as appealing in a mass-marketing sense.
After an opening credit sequence featuring a pumpkin being carved -- an act the filmmakers seemed to think we would find scary -- and after a few minutes of clips from "Halloween 4," we are brought to the present day: Halloween Eve 1989. Even though Part 4 ended with Jamie -- the young niece of Michael Myers -- becoming evil and apparently the New Michael, now, a year later, she's just a disturbed child who can't talk (hooray!) and who's being kept in a home for creepy children. Why isn't Jamie evil after all? I dunno. Apparenly, Part 4 was only kidding about that.
She does have a psychic connection with Uncle Mike, though, and can tell when people are in danger of him. Also, a lot of townspeople THINK she's evil, and they throw rocks through her window with notes attached to them that say, "The evil child must die!" Just add that to the pile of terrible, terrible things that happen to this girl in the interest of traumatizing her beyond the point of humanity. I would not be surprised if both the character and the actress who played her later turned to a career in pornography. In fact, I would be disappointed if they didn't. (The actress, Danielle Harris, did go on to appear in "Urban Legends," which is sort of the same thing.)
Jamie's foster parents are out of town this weekend, but she's safe and warm at the creepy-children's hospital, under the disquieting care of half-melted Dr. Loomis (played by the aforementioned Mr. Pleasence). Loomis is pretty frustrated with the fact that Jamie can't talk and help him find Michael; how he knows Michael is even still alive is beyond me, since Michael died at the end of Part 4.
Michael is still alive, of course; he swam down a river and then stumbled into a shack belonging to an old man, whom he killed (but not before taking a nap). It is unclear when this takes place. We see him escaping the mine shaft he fell into at the end of Part 4, and we see him swimming down a river. Then he enters the shack and passes out, exhausted from the chase. This all happened moments after the events of Part 4, right? Right, except that then it's a year later and Jamie's in the hospital having psychic connections with Michael ... who is still in the shack, where no time seems to have elapsed. The shack exists in a wormhole, apparently, the Shack That Time Forgot.
Anyhoo, somehow Dr. Loomis figures out Michael must still be alive -- probably all the freaking out Jamie does clues him in -- and wants to catch him, and the police cooperate but are really, really stupid and do more harm than good, adding more weight to the argument that we shouldn't even HAVE police in this country.
Jamie's foster sister Rachel, left over from the last movie, gets killed before long by Michael Myers, who doesn't even bother hiding anymore. He pretty much just stands around where anyone could see him, often in broad daylight, and yet no one sees him. You'd think a town that had been victimized just a year earlier by a Halloween-themed serial killer would be more alert on the anniversary of it. You'd especially think Rachel would be on her toes and not in the shower all the time, considering she was one of Michael's primary targets last year. But who am I to judge? No one's ever tried to kill me with a knife. Maybe I'd pretend it never happened, too.
Anyway, Rachel gets killed, which is fine with me, but her replacement as heroine is her annoying '80s friend Tina, a bedenimed vixen with a loathsome boyfriend and an even loathsomer fashion sense. Because she is the most irritating person on the face of the earth, it is in keeping with the perverse sense of justice employed by these movies that she is destined to live until the movie is almost over.
Michael seems to have killing Jamie as his goal, but he is easily distracted from it. He comes upon a Halloween party attended by randy teens ("Friday the 13th" was on its Part 8 by now; the "Halloween" folks obviously had been watching and taking notes), where he decides he ought to kill all of them, all of them, I tell you! How he thinks this will help him kill Jamie, I don't know. Maybe he's just practicing. At any rate, a really blond couple, including a nearly bald teen-age boy, is having sex -- he with his pants on and not even unzipped, don't ask me how -- when Michael skewers them with a pitchfork. You like to see that happen. I do, anyway.
Loomis has it in his head that if Michael kills Jamie, his "rage" will be quieted, and he'll stop killing. So he uses the poor girl as bait, back at Michael's childhood home, which has grown into a Victorian mansion. The question is whether she is just bait to lure Michael there so they can kill him, or whether the insane Loomis actually plans to deliver her up to her murderous uncle. There are hints of good filmmaking in all that.
Another hint of quality comes with a mysterious dark figure who lurks around the movie and in the end busts Michael out of jail. It is merely a hint, though, as it is not resolved in this film, and it is patently unfair to introduce such major plot points solely for the purpose of setting up a sequel.
When all is said and done, it turns out that maybe, all Michael needs is to be loved. Or to kill people. It's very heartwarming, anyway. You'd be hard-pressed to call the movie "good," but it's less dull than Part 4.
1 hr., 36 min.
Copyright © Eric D. Snider.
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