Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Film Appreciation - Jay's Defense of Halloween 5

This week in Film Appreciation, Jay Burleson sticks up for a childhood favorite as he discusses Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers.

Directed by Dominic Othenin-Girard 
Starring: Danielle Harris, Donald Pleasence, Ellie Cornell, and Tamara Glynn.

So, here's a dirty little secret. When I was a kid, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers was my favorite Halloween film and one of my favorite films-- period. The dirtiest part of that secret is that I still enjoy this film. Halloween 5 is generally one of the most hated in the franchise, and I can understand that. The thing is, some of the reasons why people give it so much hate happen to be some of the reasons why I love it.

The plot is simple. Michael Myers didn't die when he was blown into that mineshaft at the end of Halloween 4. He made his way into a creek and drifted down to an old hermit's house. He sleeps there for a year and then picks up where he left off: pursuing his little niece, Jamie Lloyd.

The first thing Halloween fans bash about this movie is the mask. I personally think the mask looks great and is a big improvement over Halloween 4. The mask in 4 looked way too cheap. I understand that it was supposed to because he gets it at a mom and pop store. The thing is, it's the Myers mask! It shouldn't look cheap, no matter what! I find the mask in part 5 to be a hell of a lot creepier than just about any of the masks from any of the other sequels. It's different, but that doesn't always have to be a bad thing.

Fans also seem to hate the character of Tina and the fact that Rachel Carruthers was killed off very early on. I will admit that Tina is annoying, but she's a nice change of pace. We already have the innocent Laurie Strode-like character in Jamie Lloyd, so another edition of "Jamie and Rachel battle the Shape" would've been overkill at this point. Tina is at least different, and some of her character traits help lead the film in new directions. I found her bubbly personality to at least be realistic. Director Dominique Othenin-Girard takes risks, and I can respect that, as killing Rachel off early helps set the tone of uncertainty for the entire film.

One of Othenin-Girard's biggest "risks" is changing the Myers house from a simple two-story home to a gothic-looking mansion. I don't like this and can't really explain the decision other than to say it gives them the freedom to do one of the coolest segments in the entire film: the laundry chute scene. I find it to be much more interesting than the roof chase in Halloween 4, in fact, it's the best attempt at suspense that the series has seen since the original film!

The biggest gripe against The Revenge seems to be the decision to make Jamie Lloyd a strange mute who shares a psychic connection to her uncle Michael. My reasoning? Michael Myers has been shot to death, blown up in a hospital, gone into a coma, been shot up some more and even been gunned down by the entire police force. Is it impossible to believe that this unkillable monster has some type of connection with his relative? Not to me, and I enjoy mute Jamie because let's face it, Danielle Harris as Jamie Lloyd is the best thing that could have happened to the Halloween franchise. She's the glue that holds 4 & 5 together.

Jamie is probably my favorite character in the franchise outside of Dr. Loomis. Danielle is so great in these two films, but mainly in part 5. As far as child acting goes, I would rank her performances up there with the best of them. The quality of the two movies might not be as great as other films with child actors, but her performances are perfect to me. Not speaking actually benefits Danielle in part 5 because there's no need to do any of the meaningless dialogue that can usually be a trap for kid actors. Everything Danielle delivers here is earnest and moves the plot along.

Her character, who tried to murder her stepmother at the end of 4, is now unable to talk. She's becoming more like the Shape now, having displayed one murderous impulse and now no longer speaking. On the other side is Dr. Loomis, played by the wonderful Donald Pleasence, who takes on the natural progression of becoming even more obsessed and insane. He's great here, only rivaled by his performances in parts 1 and 6. Yes, he was amazing in The Curse of Michael Myers. Loomis is truly frightening in this one, as he doesn't seem to care what happens to Jamie. It's also interesting to me that he's in a similar position as he was with young Michael. Dealing with a kid, no longer speaking, who has done something terrible.

The look of this film is a welcome change to me as well. Othenin-Girard makes it much more European and natural looking, which adds a nice artsy look to a lot of the shots and steps away from the extreme overuse of blue gels. That's all fine, but Halloween 4 really wore me out on it. There are some nice atmospheric barn/farm scenes that work pretty well and feature one of the prettiest girls in the entire franchise with Tamara Glynn's brief appearance as Samantha. She makes love with her boyfriend in the barn before being butchered by the Shape, but Othenin-Girard actually lets this moment build up and shows some attention to the characters and the moment they are sharing before the horror starts. It's not done in a sleazy or revealing way, which makes me think the director was focused in on his characters. It's a nice touch.

There is some questionable stuff here, but after all this is the 5th Halloween film and the 4th with Michael Myers. I think it stacks up exceptionally well when compared to other sequels in long-running horror franchises. It's not perfect but is definitely not as much of a train wreck as many Halloween fans might initially think. I'll always love it for being another Halloween film with Dr. Loomis, having a great performance from Danielle Harris, and oh yeah, the music is still pretty good too.


  1. I'll agree about the mask; I really don't understand how people think it's worse than the one in 4, which is way off from the original mask. I will also concede Tamara Glynn's hotness as a high point.

  2. Despite the mediocre screenplay, I still think Girand showed some nifty direction skills in this film. Remember when Loomis tries to reason with Michael verbally? That was a tense seen right there.

  3. Part 5 has long been one of my favorites. It isn't perfect; I agree that Tina is an extremely annoying teenager -- perhaps the most realistic aspect of the film, come to think of it -- and the change in the Myers house was so confusing at first that I wasn't altogether sure what I was looking at. But the last half of the film contains some of the best pursuit/suspense scenes in the entire series, including the car chase at the Tower Farm, the laundry chute attack, and the chain-link net in the living room. It also has what remains to this day my favorite score of the franchise. For all its shortcomings, Part 5 had a great many things going for it.

  4. I agree whole heartedly!