Reviewed by
Colin Jacobson

Title: Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Studio Line: Anchor Bay - Michael Lives. And This Time They're Ready!

Following her mysterious behavior at the conclusion of Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers, young Jaime (Danielle Harris) is committed to the psychiatric care of Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance). Meanwhile, Michael Myers is presumed dead following a shoot-out with the Haddonfield Police and a fatal fall down a mineshaft entrance. But all is not as it seems. A well-meaning derelict nurses Michael back to health, and one year later he is back to kill again! Jamie finds herself the object of Michael's murderous rage, and along with new friends and Dr. Loomis, she tries to prevent Michael from continuing his bloody rampage.

However, there is a new visitor in town -- a man dressed in black who quietly walks the streets with an unknown but sinister purpose. Why is he here? What is his connection to Michael? By the end of Halloween 5: The Revenge Of Michael Myers, many will be dead -- you will be screaming!

Director: Dominique Othenin-Gerard
Cast: Donald Pleasence, Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Beau Starr, Wendy Kaplan
DVD: Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9, standard 1.33:1; audio English DD 5.1; subtitles none; closed-captioned; single sided - dual layered; 26 chapters; rated R; 97 min.; $29.98; street date 9/5/00.
Supplements: Introduction by Stars Danielle Harris and Ellie Cornell; Inside Halloween 5 Documentary Featuring Rare Behind-the-Scenes Footage, A Cut Scene, and Interviews with Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Executive Producer Moustapha Akkad, Cinematographer Rob Draper, and Don Shanks who played Michael Myers; Theatrical Trailer.
Purchase: DVD | Limited Edition Tin | Score soundtrack - Alan Howarth

Picture/Sound/Extras: B/B+/C

On one hand, whenever I learn of the existence of yet another cheapie slasher sequel such as Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, I wonder "why"? Why do they continue to churn out an endless line of repetitive nonsense?

However, a little thought clearly informs us why this occurs, and the answer is: why not? After all, it takes relatively little money, thought or effort to create a fifth - or sixth, or seventh - edition of Halloween, and the series' brand name will lure a decent number of patrons into theaters - or at least entice them to rent the movie, which is more likely. Why not make product that probably possesses very effective profit potential?

I could spew some nonsense about "art" or how the endless line of sequels hurts the good name of 1978's original Halloween, but I won't, because I don't believe either applies here. For one, not all movies have to be wonderful artistic creations. A fun load of hooey is perfectly fine from time to time, or even frequently, depending on one's tastes. The second argument is a little more compelling, but I don't think anyone's disparaged the first film due to the flaws of its sequels.

I suppose these spin-offs are a good example of films that really have nothing to lose. If they stink, no one's surprised because no one expected them to be any good, but if they offer signs of life and spark, that's gravy and people enjoy the result even more. Since the financial model means there's little risk involved, it's a painless transaction with only upside for most involved.

Unless you actually have to watch a semi-clunker like H5, that is. At best, this continuation of the series provides a mildly-watchable slasher flick that isn't horribly dull, but it really has no reason to exist as a film; it's just more warmed-over hack and kill antics from good old Mikey.

I never saw Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, but apparently H5 picks up right where that one ended. Mikey (again) seems dead, but of course this isn't true. (These folks really need to learn to get the body and just hack it up into a million pieces - they assume far too much!) He seems to have some sort of extrasensory bond with his nine-year-old niece Jamie (Danielle Harris) and she can sense his presence when he returns to Haddonfield, the sight of the action from the other films.

The inhabitants seem completely dense when it comes to his menace; even signs of intelligence are ignored. One character states that the town should cancel Halloween, but they act as though nothing ever happened and party like any other burgh. When Mike returns and the usual chop-chop happens, everyone seems pretty shocked.

Mike's longtime nemesis Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) returns for yet another attempt to catch him, and he essentially uses Jamie as bait. A series of inevitable killings occurs, and the also-inevitable show-down concludes inconclusively. Door left wide-open for yet another sequel? There's a shock!

The film also incorporates a mysterious cowboy-type character who appears to be Mike's colleague, or at least a fan. We learn virtually nothing about this person, but I suppose that subject would be explored in Halloween 6.

I haven't seen that film, and I certainly don't plan to do so now that I've watched H5. I can't say I disliked the movie, since I found it generally watchable, but I certainly found nothing compelling about it. The characters are bland and shallow, the slayings are typical brainless horror movie fare, and there's little to no excitement or creativity on display. The last act is harmed by some silly psychobabble about Michael's "rage", but this adds no depth to the piece; if anything, it makes the whole experience even goofier and less believable.

Halloween 5 epitomizes the modestly-tolerable but largely uncompelling horror sequel. The movie had no reason to exist other than to make some bucks, and should be regarded as such. Fans of the series may get a few kicks out of it but others who desire quality horror should skip it.

The DVD:

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers appears in both its original theatrical aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 and in a fullscreen edition on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the letterboxed image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the widescreen picture was rated for this review. Although it shows some concerns, for the most part I thought that H5 provided a pretty satisfying image.

Sharpness usually seemed pretty crisp and accurate, but a few scenes appeared slightly soft and fuzzy; most of these instances occur during interior sequences and the haziness is very mild. Moiré effects and jagged edges caused no problems, and I also noticed few artifacts from the anamorphic downconversion on my 4X3 TV. Print flaws appeared happily absent. I detected some extremely light grain at times, but that was it; otherwise I saw no signs of scratches, speckles, nicks, tears, hair or dirt on this very clean print.

Colors are very nice, with accurate and clearly-saturated hues in evidence throughout the movie. Actually, the clarity of the colors surprised me, since H5 was shot on what appears to be cheap film stock and I wouldn 't expect such vivid and bright hues. However, the low budget did negatively affect the richness of the black levels. At times the dark parts looked acceptably deep and dense, but they usually appeared slightly pale and gray. Shadow detail also came across as a little too thick at times; I never had difficulty discerning the action in those scenes but the mild weakness of the blacks made the dimly-lit scenes look too drab. Nonetheless, I generally liked the appearance of H5 and thought it provided a positive viewing experience.

The same sentiment applies to the Dolby Digital 5.1 remixed soundtrack of Halloween 5. From what I can tell, the movie originally featured a Dolby Surround track, and this new edition didn't deviate greatly from its blueprint. The forward soundfield dominated and provided a nicely broad and involving spectrum of audio. Quite a lot of discrete sound came from the side channels, and the audio tended to integrate well between the speakers, which created a solidly-rich experience. The rear channels also contributed a fair amount of audio as they presented some good ambient effects and music. The surrounds never were a focal point, but they bolstered the overall impact of the mix.

Quality also seemed pretty good. Most of the dialogue appeared natural and distinct, though some slight edginess interfered at times; for reasons unknown, this factor most significantly affected the speech of Donald Pleasence. However, the distortion was very minor and did not impact upon intelligibility. Effects sounded clear and realistic, with some nice punch behind them at times, and the film's score was crisp and deep; both elements displayed quite good bass on occasion. The soundtrack showed its age due to the mildly-restricted soundfield but it worked very well for a film from 1989.

Although it's not packed with extras, Halloween 5 does include a few supplements. When you start the movie, you find a very brief (roughly 15 second) "introduction" to the film from actors Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris. I don't know if this was created for the video release, but it looks like something you'd see before a TV broadcast. In any case, it's painless but not very useful.

More compelling is a decent little documentary called "Inside Halloween 5" This 15 minute and 10 second program provides a moderately-interesting look at the creation of the film. We find both new and "vintage" interviews with a number of the participants plus a little behind the scenes footage as well. It's not a great piece but I thought it was fairly fun. Finally, the DVD also includes the theatrical trailer for H5.

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers isn't a terrible horror film, but it's a pretty pointless one from a creative point of view. This is movie product, plain and simple, and though it achieves its modest slasher goals to a modest degree, it's not a very interesting film. The DVD provides very good picture and sound plus a short but decent documentary. Despite the fairly nice presentation, the movie simply isn't worth the effort for anyone other than the biggest Halloween devotees.

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