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‘Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers’

By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
October 22, 1988


Dwight H. Little
Donald Pleasence;
Ellie Cornell;
Danielle Harris
Under 17 restricted

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Gee, has it only been 10 years since Michael Myers started stalking teen-agers in "Halloween"? Well, be thankful that a decade later we're only on the third sequel, "Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers." That means there will still be crowds at the mall theaters where "H4" has just opened.

"H4" is very much the cheap knockoff of its prototype, but not half as visceral. Michael "Evil Incarnate" Myers escapes from a hospital for the criminally insane on yet another rainy night. Mental Doc Donald Pleasence is chasing him down, clumsy as always. This time the police believe him right away, but it's already too late. And since it's Halloween, what's another guy with a scary face mask, even if he's leaving bodies behind like litter.

For those who like to count, there are 16 bodies (plus a dog) strewn through "H4's" 80 minutes, their dispatch often off-screen (cutbacks in the special effects budget, one supposes). There is a school of red herrings, the now-traditional stalker's point-of-view camera angle, reflection shots, cheap premonitions and assorted cliche's (including "Halloween" director John Carpenter's eerie original theme music, though Carpenter himself wisely chose to join the departed after the first film). The script seems to have been written by telegraph.

What's new? Well, the focal victim is now Myers' 6-year-old niece Jamie (homage to Jamie Lee Curtis, heroine of the first film?). The victims are a more well-rounded bunch, demographically. And the ending settles the question of Michael Myers, even as it suggests the probability of "Halloween 5." It, too, is a cheap rip-off (from the "Friday the 13th" series) but then again, new blood is so hard to come by these days, even if it's easy to spill.

"Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers" is rated R and contains some gory effects, partial nudity and the occasional cuss word.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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