DirectorDwight H. Little
Release Date(s)1988 (September 23, 2014)
Studio(s)Trancas (Anchor Bay/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: B
- Audio Grade: C-
- Extras Grade: B
A lot had changed in Haddonfield by 1988. Michael Myers hadn’t appeared in a movie for seven years, an eternity in Hollywood. Both John Carpenter and Debra Hill had moved on after their ambitious attempt to rebrand the Halloween series as a Myers-free anthology had failed to set the world on fire. Jamie Lee Curtis was starring in movies like A Fish Called Wanda and wanted nothing whatsoever to do with the horror genre at the time. The only person who seemed to really want a new Halloween movie featuring Michael Myers was executive producer Moustapha Akkad. And at the end of the day, his was the only opinion that mattered.
You have to give Akkad credit for this much: these days, most producers would just start over after seven years instead of creating a direct sequel. Also to their credit, Akkad, director Dwight H. Little and screenwriter Alan B. McElroy realized that the beauty of the original film lay in its simplicity. After 10 years, a seemingly comatose Michael Myers is being transferred to a new facility, much to the eternal frustration of Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence, as always). Of course he escapes (perhaps they should have scheduled the transfer for sometime other than late October) and heads to Haddonfield, this time going after his niece, Jamie (Danielle Harris). Jamie has already been having nightmares about Uncle Michael, so she’s understandably terrified when the real deal shows up. Loomis teams up with the new sheriff (Beau Starr) and Jamie’s foster sister Rachel (Ellie Cornell) to protect both Jamie and Haddonfield.
It’s a pretty basic set-up for a movie that, quite frankly, doesn’t need much more than that. Sure, the absence of Jamie’s mom, Laurie Strode, is never really brought up except in passing. And for a man of science, Dr. Loomis’ diagnosis of Michael hasn’t progressed much past the “he’s evil incarnate” phase in the past decade. But none of that really matters because a movie like this really only depends on how well the filmmakers deploy The Shape.
Halloween 4 has a nice small-town atmosphere, starting with the evocative opening titles, and director Little stages the suspense sequences nicely. However, this is one of those movies where The Shape just kind of appears wherever it’s creepiest or coolest, regardless of little things like travel time and spatial relationships. And while Michael always racks up a lot of collateral damage, he always has a single goal in mind. In the first two movies, he’s going after Laurie, a strong, resourceful young woman. In this, he’s hunting a small, 10-year-old girl. Call me crazy but it seems like his job ought to be a lot easier than it is. Still, the movie gets more right than wrong, up to and including a nifty and satisfying final twist.
Anchor Bay previously released Halloween 4 on Blu-ray two years ago and I do not believe they went back to the well for the Complete Collection. There’s nothing aggressively wrong with the transfer, although it’s far from spectacular. The picture quality is just fine, getting the job done without especially impressing or depressing you. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio also doesn’t do much to shake up the room but it’s OK. As you may have heard, there is an audio sync issue that kicks in around chapter 8 and lingers for almost the rest of the movie. It’s noticeable but not overly distracting, although everybody’s mileage will vary on just how distracting it is. According to Anchor Bay and Shout! Factory, this issue also plagued previous releases. As I mentioned in the box set review, I don’t have any of those discs in order to make a direct comparison, so I don’t know if that’s true or not. As of this writing, there are no plans for a replacement program but obviously if that changes, we’ll let you know.
Extras on the disc itself include two commentary tracks: a chatty, informal one between actresses Danielle Harris and Ellie Cornell and an extremely informative track with director Dwight H. Little and author Justin Beahm. The disc also includes the trailer. As I mentioned in my review of The Complete Collection set, the disc omits a panel discussion covering both Halloween 4 and 5 from the H25 Convention, possibly for technical reasons as the quality reportedly wasn’t the best. I have heard reports that the panel discussion can be accessed if you have a computer with a Blu-ray drive. It also drops a commentary track by screenwriter Alan B. McElroy from the Divimax DVD. I’m not sure why that track is missing, although McElroy figures prominently in the Complete Collection bonus disc, so perhaps it was simply repetitive. The Bonus Disc in the Complete Collection includes some H4-specific material, including the original featurette Halloween 4: Final Cut, the new and excellent documentary Back To Basics: The Making Of Halloween 4 and a new episode of Sean Clark’s Horror’s Hallowed Grounds touring the film’s Utah locations.
Given the audio glitch and missing (or hidden) extras, this is certainly the most problematic disc in the set. These are relatively minor flaws but even so, they really shouldn’t exist at all in an elaborate, definitive collection like this.
In the end, it turned out that Moustapha Akkad was right about the public’s interest in Michael Myers. Halloween 4 was a hit and proved that Michael could live on without the involvement of John Carpenter and Debra Hill. After this, there could no longer be any doubt. Michael Myers was the Boogeyman and he was going to be around for a long, long time.
- Adam Jahnke
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