Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers Preview

Mud splashes in Young Jamie’s face and Jamie and Patrick fist bump and laugh as they watch the dirt mingle with his tears. The youngsters hopped on their own motorbikes in an attempt to battle their older counterparts’ sick moves. Alas, without the years of professional dance under their belts they couldn’t keep up. “Who… who are you guys?” asks Young Patrick, sniffling sadly at his own lack of motorbike skillz. Patrick throws up his hands. The youngsters shouldn’t worry about who they are. “The short and sweet of it is that we are who you could become if you learn the three R’s: reading, writing, and total radness.” Boom. A look of wonder and self-reflection cross the faces of the younger versions of themselves. They predator high five and vow to read, write, and be super rad by being kind and inclusive to others. Boy, that was easy. Jamie and Patrick nod at each other and prepare to head back to the time machine. They were certain this would take at least eight or nine short adventures to achieve their goal. “Hey wait,” the youngsters say, “Aren’t you going to stick around for dinner?” Patrick is about to explain that they don’t make it a habit to dine with children because they are adults and kids are boring when Young Jamie chimes in, “Yeah, and then afterwards is trick-or-treating!” Jamie and Patrick look at each other in shock, a shared feeling about this moment flooding back to them. They may have turned their lives around with their rad tricks and sage advice, but something about Young Jamie’s words make them think they have one more thing left to do. Halloween, late 90’s, tricks and/or treats… something monstrous is on the horizon. That’s right! We’re heading on through another horror franchise and boooooyyyyy howdy do I love franchises. Halloween might be the most critically disappointing of the major franchises. Started at the highest of highs and then really tanked starting with Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. And that’s where we start and pick up a bonus in Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. Both under 90 minutes. Let’s go!

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) – BMeTric: 38.4; Notability: 28

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 6.4%; Notability: top 12.8%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 14.0%; Higher BMeT: Mac and Me, Caddyshack II, Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach, Poltergeist III, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, Johnny Be Good, Alien from L.A., Arthur 2: On the Rocks, My Stepmother Is an Alien, Big Top Pee-wee, Cocoon: The Return, Red Scorpion, Critters 2, Return of the Killer Tomatoes!, Hot to Trot, Two Moon Junction; Higher Notability: Action Jackson, Sunset, High Spirits, Caddyshack II, Big Top Pee-wee, My Stepmother Is an Alien, Cocoon: The Return, Moving, The Couch Trip, License to Drive, Vibes, Cocktail, Arthur 2: On the Rocks, Hot to Trot, The Seventh Sign, Mac and Me, Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach, Short Circuit 2, The Presidio, Bad Dreams, and 12 more; Lower RT: Two Moon Junction, Illegally Yours, Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach, Johnny Be Good, Return of the Living Dead II, Watchers, Return of the Killer Tomatoes!, Hot to Trot, Fresh Horses, Hero and the Terror, Mac and Me, Caddyshack II, Cocktail, Dead Heat, Arthur 2: On the Rocks, Action Jackson, Vibes, The Prince of Pennsylvania, The Seventh Sign, 976-EVIL, and 14 more; Notes: The rating just keeps on rising! Pretty silly that it does, the movie isn’t very good. Man, we still have a ton of solid 1988 films to watch. What are we doing?

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  Unkillable monster is back, this time mindlessly headed for his hometown to murder his niece (young Harris). Standard horror thriller is technically well made but offers little novelty.

(Maltin reviews sometimes really confuse me. Like, this one is waaaaay shorter than most any review, and yet he can’t be bothered to put commas in places or add a “The” to the start of the review? He peppers semicolons all over his reviews, and then gets precious with commas? Just bizarre stuff. Oh the review? Yeah, sounds about right.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SpDZ1eErzM/

(Decent trailer. Shows enough to know you are going to get the kills you expect from the 1988 horror landscape, but also an interesting take on reintroducing Myers to the franchise.)

DirectorsDwight H. Little – ( Known For: Tekken; The Last Rampage; Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home; Rapid Fire; Bloodstone; Getting Even; KGB: The Secret War; Future BMT: Marked for Death; Murder at 1600; The Phantom of the Opera; BMT: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers; Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid; Notes: Ended up being a big television director, including 23 episodes of Bones. Seems like he’s been retired since 2018.)

WritersDhani Lipsius – ( BMT: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers; Notes: Produced the Butterfly Effect DVD extras, and was an assistant on Cheers in 1983.)

Larry Rattner – ( BMT: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers; Notes: Mostly a producer, like for the movie Far More starring Adrian Grenier.)

Benjamin Ruffner – ( BMT: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers; Notes: Literally nothing about this person on IMDb, and on Variety he has only been mentioned in reference to this production.)

Alan B. McElroy – ( Known For: Wrong Turn; Fractured; Tekken; Rapid Fire; Thr3e; Future BMT: Wrong Turn; Spawn; The Perfect Guy; BMT: The Marine; Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers; Left Behind: The Movie; Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever; Notes: A writer on Star Trek: Discovery. Still makes horror films, like Wrong Turn which came out last year. Was part of the Columbia Pictures Writing Program.)

ActorsDonald Pleasence – ( Known For: The Eagle Has Landed; The Great Escape; Halloween; Escape from New York; You Only Live Twice; The Greatest Story Ever Told; Phenomena; THX 1138; Fantastic Voyage; Prince of Darkness; Soldier Blue; Escape to Witch Mountain; Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band; Wake in Fright; The Last Tycoon; Dracula; Alone in the Dark; Malachi’s Cove; The Hallelujah Trail; Watch Out, We’re Mad; Future BMT: Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers; BMT: Halloween II; Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers; Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers; Notes: Died in 1995. Nominated for an Emmy for The Defection of Simas Kudirka. I think he’s most famous as the original Blofeld in the Bond films.)

Ellie Cornell – ( Known For: Married to the Mob; The Specials; Room 6; Free Enterprise; All Souls Day: Dia de los Muertos; The Thirst; Future BMT: House of the Dead; BMT: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers; Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers; Notes: Still working, although she took an eight year break in the 90s. Founded Mindfire Entertainment.)

Danielle Harris – ( Known For: Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood; Free Willy; The Last Boy Scout; City Slickers; The Town That Dreaded Sundown; Stake Land; Hatchet II; See No Evil 2; Victor Crowley; Hatchet III; The Wild Thornberrys; The Victim; Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet; Camp Cold Brook; Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2; Shiver; Havenhurst; Poor White Trash; Super Capers: The Origins of Ed and the Missing Bullion; Left for Dead; Future BMT: Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead; Halloween; Marked for Death; Halloween II; Rugrats Go Wild; BMT: Urban Legend; Daylight; Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers; Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers; Notes: Apparently sold the clown costume she wore in this film to a fan for his personal Halloween collection.)

Budget/Gross – $5,000,000 / Domestic: $17,768,757 (Worldwide: $17,768,757)

(I think this is just how horror films were back in the day? It is worse than the mid-franchise installments of Elm Street and Friday the 13th though. That is a shockingly low take only made palatable by the shockingly low budget.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 29% (8/28): Halloween 4: The Return Of Michaels Myers may bring the series’ masked killer back into the fold, but fails to offer the visceral scares and inventiveness of the original.

(I mean, how can you match the inventiveness of the original when you are forced to use the same killer over and over. Isn’t that the story of Halloween 3? They tried something new, it didn’t work, the franchise falls apart in three years.)

Reviewer Highlight: It seems the latest stage in some curious evolutionary pattern; the slasher species keeps proliferating and getting weaker at the same time. – Caryn James, New York Times

Poster – Sklogoween 4: The Return of Bagpipes McGee

(Wooooah, that’s horrible. I guess I’d hang it in my room as a joke or something. It looks like a local advertisement for a mattress store or something. Gah, I have to stop looking at it. It’s growing on me with its weird giant mask. Noooooo D.)

Tagline(s) – Ten Years Ago HE Changed The Face Of Halloween. Tonight HE’S BACK! (D)

(Stupid meta-tagline. Even too long to be effective at that. May as well have just gone with the generic HE’S BACK instead.)

Keyword(s) – halloween

Top 10: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), The Karate Kid (1984), Antlers (2021), Deadpool (2016), Silver Linings Playbook (2012), Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Halloween Kills (2021), Rent (2005)

Future BMT: 84.1 Halloween: Resurrection (2002), 72.1 Bewitched (2005), 70.5 Halloween II (2009), 70.0 Texas Chainsaw (2013), 67.8 Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995), 64.7 The Crow: City of Angels (1996), 61.4 Skinwalkers (2006), 60.5 Pet Sematary II (1992), 57.0 The Next Best Thing (2000), 54.3 Hanging Up (2000)

BMT: Batman Forever (1995), The Predator (2018), Thir13en Ghosts (2001), Son of the Mask (2005), Made of Honor (2008), Halloween II (1981), Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988), Deadly Friend (1986), Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989), Boo! A Madea Halloween (2016), Town & Country (2001)

Matches: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019), Halloween Kills (2021), Scary Movie (2000), The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), The Crow (1994), Hubie Halloween (2020), Haunt (2019), Halloween (2018), Terrifier (2016), When We First Met (2018), A Cinderella Story (2004), Monster House (2006), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998), Hell House LLC (2015), Idle Hands (1999), Trick ‘r Treat (2007), Bad Candy (2020), Fun Size (2012), Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), Night of the Demons (1988), Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988), Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995), Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018), Halloween: Resurrection (2002), Halloween II (2009), The Hollywood Knights (1980), Pet Sematary II (1992), Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989), Hurt (2018), Stan Helsing (2009), Blood Fest (2018), All Hallows’ Eve (2013), Pay the Ghost (2015), Murder Party (2007), Night of the Demons (2009), Boo! A Madea Halloween (2016), Candy Corn (2019), Tales of Halloween (2015), Boo 2! A Madea Halloween (2017), … (and many more)

(Kind of ridiculous how few (relatively) we’ve done, but we are working on it. Hanging up sounds weird. Basically Diane Keaton, Meg Ryan, and Lisa Kudrow all don’t care that Walter Matthau is going to die … that’s the plotline.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 16) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Donald Pleasence is No. 2 billed in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and No. 2 billed in Halloween II, which also stars Jamie Lee Curtis (No. 1 billed) who is in Christmas with the Kranks (No. 2 billed) which also stars Tim Allen (No. 1 billed) who is in Jungle 2 Jungle (No. 1 billed) which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 6 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => (2 + 2) + (1 + 2) + (1 + 1) + (6 + 1) = 16. There is no shorter path at the moment.

Notes – Just so Danielle Harris wouldn’t be scared, George P. Wilbur would often lift up his mask between takes to remind her that they were just making a movie and that he was not really going to hurt her.

The girl Lindsey who drove Rachel and Jamie to the discount mart was going to be revealed as Lindsey Wallace from Halloween (1978) and have a larger part in the film as Rachel’s friend and helping her babysit Jamie, but that was cut for budget reasons. The third boy hanging out with Brady and Wade in the drug store was meant to be Tommy Doyle from the original film.

A scene was filmed to bridge the story with Halloween II (1981). It was a flashback to the finale of part II, with a scene where Loomis is being tended to by paramedics when he sees the burning body of The Shape. Loomis exclaims to the EMS technicians to “Let Him Burn!” but they douse the flaming body of Myers despite his pleas. This moment was added to Halloween Kills (2021) with Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) saying the line after she sets her house on fire with Michael trapped at the end of Halloween (2018).

Series creator John Carpenter wrote a treatment for this film that had a more ghostly psychological approach to the Michael Myers mythos. It concerned the town of Haddonfield and what effect the events of the first two films had on its citizens. This concept was later rejected by the producers in favor of the typical slasher fare, at which point Carpenter left out of the film, making this the first in the series to have no participation from him.

Alan B. McElroy wrote the script in 11 days and beat the writer’s strike by mere hours.

Originally, when Jamie and Loomis were trapped in the school, Jamie hid in a classroom under a desk. Michael entered searching for her, throwing the desks over. Although due to time constraints this sequence was not shot for this film, it was remembered by producer Moustapha Akkad and later re-used in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998).

In the schoolhouse, Michael’s mask appears, briefly, with blonde hair. This mask was the original type chosen for the film. However, it was decided to go with a design with brown hair, resulting in re-shoots. The mask with brown hair was chosen to match the style seen in the first two films in the series, with the blonde-haired mask appearing only in the schoolhouse sequence.

The ambulance that transports Michael Myers was a prison bus in an earlier draft of the script. Michael escaping from a prison bus was later used 30 years later in Halloween (2018).

This film is the first time Michael Myers is credited with his name, as opposed to bring credited as “The Shape.”

1988 was the first year in which all 3 of the then top horror franchises (Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare On Elm Street) all released new films in the same year: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, and A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. Additionally, the first Child’s Play was also released in 1988, as were Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 and Phantasm 2, all of which would also become major horror franchises.

The original ending had Rachel go upstairs to take a shower and replace the dirty, blood-stained clothes she was wearing only to have Jamie sneak up behind her and stab her to death. This scene was later changed to Darlene Caruthers but this scene was remembered for Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) and was used for Rachel’s death scene.

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