Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 15, 2019)
After a six-year hiatus, the Halloween franchise came back via 1988’s Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. The studio must’ve liked what they saw, as the next chapter materialized quickly with 1989’s Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers.
Set a year after the events of Return, sadistic killer Michael Myers (Don Shanks) intends to finish what he couldn’t do earlier. He sought to slay his niece Jamie (Danielle Harris) but failed to complete that action.
After the trauma she suffered, Jamie goes mute, and she receives treatment for this. In addition, the earlier events created a telepathic bond between Jamie and Uncle Michael.
While Michael heads to find and kill his niece, others work to stop him. Once again, Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) embarks on a crusade to finish off his long-time foe.
When I reviewed Return, I felt it offered a virtual remake of the original film. In this case, I feared Revenge would become a recooked version of Halloween II.
However, that doesn’t become the case, as Jamie’s hospitalization plays a fairly small role in the proceedings. Halloween II mainly revolved around Michael’s shenanigans at the medical facility, while most of Revenge takes place elsewhere.
While it may not remake Halloween II, that doesn’t mean Revenge offers anything fresh, however. Even with the twist related to Jamie’s newfound psychic abilities, the film feels like the same old same old.
I almost referred to the Jamie/Michael link as a clever angle, but that doesn’t make sense. The movie doesn’t use their connection as anything other than a cheap plot gimmick, and it usually seems as cheesy as it sounds.
Silly as the psychic elements are, at least they threaten to break Revenge out of the series’ mold. It flops, though, and it usually relies on the standard set of threats and scares.
No one in Haddonfield ever learns any lessons. Every Halloween they act carefree as can be and ignore all the danger. The town slogan must be “Haddonfield: Dumber and Dumber!”
Once again, Michael finds a way to go after horny teenagers. The original Halloween established that cliché, so I guess its follow-ups come to the trite plot choice organically, but it doesn’t work.
Again, some of that stems from the basic stupidity required to make the theme function. No one here seems to understand the danger around them, so we actively hope to see them die.
Successful horror movies need the audience to root for at least some of the characters, but that largely fails to occur here. We kinda sorta care about Jamie, but only kinda sorta.
Harris proves pretty good in the role, at least, especially when the movie requires her to exhibit pain. An early scene at the medical facility becomes borderline harrowing due to the trauma Harris manifests.
Alas, Harris pulls off other aspects of the part less well. She does as well as anyone else, especially given her youth, but she doesn’t excel most of the time.
At least Harris easily tops veteran actor Pleasence, as he gets hammier and hammier with each new Halloween. I suspect Pleasence made these movies for paycheck value, and he becomes less effective each time. Revenge acts as Pleasence’s nadir – at least through the first five films.
The series should’ve dispensed with Loomis anyway, as he seems ridiculous at this point. Why would anyone listen to the doctor’s claims that he can handle Michael when he’s failed so spectacularly so many times?
In terms of drama, Revenge tends toward garden-variety slasher scares, and it can’t develop them well. Some take forever to develop, such as a painfully long sequence in a secluded barn.
Did the filmmakers believe the slow pacing would build tension? Perhaps, but instead, the scene drags and fails to find any terror or basic menace.
I don’t know if I’d call Revenge the worst of the first five Halloween films, as all four after the original suffer from significant flaws. I do know it fails to create an effective horror experience.