“I prayed that he would burn in hell. But in my heart, I knew that hell would not have him”
- Doctor Sam Loomis
According to long time Halloween producer Moustapha Akkad, “Drunk off the success of Halloween 4, we began production on Halloween 5.” And that drunkenness shows itself almost immediately after this haphazard sequel begins, considering they even forgot to put the subtitle “Revenge of Michael Myers” in the opening credits of the film.
Rushed to production after Michael’s return hit big at the box office, part 5 lurched into theaters just one year after the previous film. After a quick recap of the ending of part 4 that boldly changes things that were key to the previous plot, we see Michael floating down some river rapids and arriving at the shack of an old hermit. Going against all the priorities of most recluses, the old man takes him in and nurses him to health for a whole year before getting brutally murdered for his troubles.
We catch up with Michael’s niece Jamie as she convulses and cries at a children’s hospital, and find out that the shocking ending from the previous film has been altered to fit the new direction of the story as well. Both of these plot points feel like cheats in a way, but by this point the series had already proved to be increasingly forgetful of it’s past, so most audiences just rolled with it.
Donald Pleasence is back again as Loomis, looking weary and old but still spry enough to pop up with a cryptic warning or two whenever trouble is near. Also returning from the previous installment is Ellie Cornell as Rachel, although she gets stabbed in the chest with a pair of scissors early on and oddly no one even mentions her again.
Instead the rest of the film plays out with Rachel’s friend Tina as the main focus. It is an abrupt shift, and Tina has much less charisma than Rachel or Laurie or frankly any of the “final girls” from the glut of horror films at the time. Tina is one of those characters where the audience ends up just waiting around to see how she is going to die.
Admittedly rushed into production before a script was even finished, this attempt to throw as many ideas at the film as possible leads to some even more baffling twists and turns. A mysterious man in black appears, and lurks through the film as the half-formed idea that he is.
Jamie is inexplicably mute for the first half of the film, and rather than become like her uncle (as suggested by the awesome ending of the previous film) she has somehow developed a psychic connection with the killer and can predict his next strikes.
This leads the more-desperate-than-ever Dr. Loomis to plan a trap for his prey, with the little girl as bait. They lead Michael back to his old home and snare him in chains, and Loomis proceeds to shoot him with a tranquilizer gun and bash his head in with a wooden plank. He is taken off to a high security prison where it is promised he would never leave again.
In a clear afterthought ending, the mysterious man in black shows up at the prison and massacres the entire police force, and ends the film with the clear notion that Michael Myers is still on the loose.
It is tempting to criticize this sequel as lazy, but French director Dominique Othenin-Girard manages to pull off some memorable sequences in spite of the patchwork script. The early scenes where Michael is stalking in broad daylight are eerie and reminiscent of the classic original. Some of the kills are inspired, and the laundry chute scene was something new at least. The gore effects are great and were created by a very new studio called KNB, which would go on to become a leading name in special effects these days, and constantly had to be trimmed and toned down for the film to avoid the dreaded X rating.
The addition of the comic relief cops, however, should have been left on the cutting floor. And some of the tedious and jumbled plot points unnecessarily complicate the storyline, making it feel like it takes much longer to get to the climax of the film than it actually does.
Overall, Halloween 5 has gone down in history as one of the weakest entries, but after slogging through some of the more recent releases, part 5 still holds up as an interesting and stylish flick at times. It adds some mysterious elements that were picked up later, while dropping some intriguing plot threads from the previous films. The thing is, it is never scary at all, and the oddball plot threads give the film a strangely inconsistent tone, where the audience is mostly left in the dark with no one really to root for or give a shit about.
This edition of the release included in the new box set looks great on Blu-ray, but is another disc sparse on special features. It includes only audio commentaries with the director and a few of the stars, and one on-set featurette.