WARNING: If you have not seen Halloween II (1981) or Halloween 4 (1988) yet, please stop reading because this review contains spoilers.
Directed by Dwight H. Little, (screenplay by Alan B. McElroy), Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is one of the most underrated horror films of all time (aside from the silly looking Michael Myers mask). After seeing Halloween II (1981) as a child, Pumpkin Person had wondered how Myers could return after being burned to a crisp in a hospital fire. I pictured something cheesy and entertaining like Myers’ rotting corpse being dug up and then struck by lightening a la Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI (1986).
Instead the film makers came up with something far creepier: Michael Myers had been in a coma for 10 straight years, just lying lifeless in a hospital bed, wearing a hospital gown with his burned head wrapped in bandages like a mummy, dumped into the basement of a criminally insane asylum. “This is where society dumps its worst nightmares” one of the character says.
After all the supernatural feats Myers had pulled in Halloween II, there was something so spooky about seeing him humanized this way. Reduced to being satiated by feeding tubes, and wheeled from one hospital to another, Myers had, for 10 years, been just another of society’s dark secrets, shoved into a dark basement, where only underpaid public nurses looked at him. A ward of the state who nobody wanted.
And then while his seemingly unconscious body is being driven in an ambulance, one dark and stormy Halloween eve, he suddenly grabs a hospital worker, repeatedly bashing the man’s head into the ambulance wall while sinking his thumb deep into the man’s forehead. It was one of the most terrifying scenes in horror history.
Why is Myers waking up from his “coma” now? Pumpkin Person prefers to think it’s because his 6 or 7 year old niece (played brilliantly by Danielle Harris) is now roughly the age Myers was when he committed his first murder. Pumpkin Person thinks it’s creepier to believe that Myers’ psychotic evil is a hereditary disease that strikes around the age of 6. Myers’ sister Laurie got lucky and didn’t inherit the gene, but his niece Jamie did, and Myers’ is coming home to make sure it’s triggered on Halloween night. For “Jamie’s uncle is the Boogeyman” the kids at school hauntingly tease.
There is a beautiful symmetry about the Halloween films that so few appreciate. Myers killed his older sister when she was 17 on Halloween night and came home (in the first two Halloween movies) to kill his younger sister when she was also 17 on Halloween night. Myers committed his first murder when he was 6 on Halloween night and in this film returns home, in my opinion, to get his niece to commit her first murder, at about age 6, on Halloween night. It was the perfect full circle moment. This is how the original series should have ended. Just where it began…with a young child committing a murder on Halloween night.
And there was something so poignantly pathetic about Myers’ psychiatrist Dr. Loomis (played superbly by the late Donald Pleasence) screaming in terror, trying to shoot the little girl, as horrified on-lookers try to stop him. For only Loomis, who devoted his life to studying Myers, fully grasps the evil Myers’ young niece has become. But Loomis is now a weak old hysterical man, and after 25 years of obsessing over Myers, he’s burned out (literally, from the hospital fire in part 2). Loomis is ready to retire, and it would have been the perfect time for the original series to retire too.