Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
Released 1989
Magnum Pictures Inc
Trancas International Films
Directed by: Dominique Othenin-Girard Running Time: 96min 1.85:1 R
Cast : Donald Pleasence, Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Beau Starr, Jeffrey Landman, Wendy Kaplan, Don Shanks.
Overall, the shot composition in Halloween 5 is more interesting, more enegergetic, and aesthetically appealing with softer lighting and pastels towards the beginning ...
... that evolve into harsher lighting and a more limited palette of golds and blacks at the film's climax.

Review by Jay Wilson

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but Halloween 5 used to be a guilty pleasure for me. I've always recognized it as an inferior film, but part of me always delights in disagreeing with mainstream consensus, so I enjoyed being able to honestly say I preferred Revenge over Return. Rewatching it today, though ... it’s simply not true anymore. I think because even back then Halloween 4’s frame composition struck me as textbook and pedestrian—maybe even a little tired and clichéd. Even its use of the Vertigo zoom feels like a film school exercise. I believe I keyed off Halloween 5’s superior visuals—the mask no longer suffers total washout from too much light (plus it no longer reminds me of Star Trek’s Brent Spiner); a new (bigger) stuntman plays The Shape without padding so he doesn’t have the amusement park mascot thing going anymore; back then Halloween 5’s lame sense of humor amused me and didn’t irritate me as it does today (Tina’s present, though, still cracks me up); Danielle Harris gives a tour de force performance when she’s finally given a chance; and about a half dozen other little odds and ends here and there (none of which add up to much).

Most disappointingly: Halloween 5 does not follow up on the greatest ending in slasher sequel history. The previous film ends with Jamie killing (sorry, “attacking”) her mom with scissors a la young Michael Myers. One time in slasher history, they set themselves up to legitimately change killers, but they didn’t (afraid of the backlash a la Halloween III, perhaps?) Even if they didn’t want to turn Jamie into Michael 2.0, they could have still made a great sequel about Jamie battling the insanity and evil which claimed her uncle so long ago. Loomis and Rachel could stick around and help her fight that inner madness. Or, hell, they could have kept Michael around while the little girl wages psychological warfare in her own mind while running for her life. How cool would that have been knowing that any minute while fleeing Michael Myers, Jamie could snap and turn on them too? So many good possibilities.

Granted, a whole movie with Jamie as the killer would probably have been too much, but man, look at her. She can play “possessed by evil.” Why didn't they do something with that?

But no. None of that. Now she’s in a children’s clinic unable to speak (?) with a telepathic link to Michael (?!). In moments most convenient for the plot, she can sense what her sinister uncle is up to and appropriately freak out, usually while Loomis screams at her to tell her where Michael is which gives rise to a painful scene where Jamie tries to communicate the location of her uncle and the only one able to make out what she’s trying to say is her little friend Billy who stutters which leads to everyone else trying to figure out what he is saying. As for Michael, after getting gunned down and tossed down a mineshaft in #4, Halloween 5 reveals the Shape escaped, fell into a coma, and was taken care of by a friendly hobo for a full year when Michael miraculously regains consciousness on halloween eve.

On top of all that, Halloween 5 gives into the false notion that these movies are somehow violent Christian morality plays where the sinners die and the pure survive. As a Christian, let me assure you, dear reader, they are not. As John Carpenter, himself, states, “they die because they’re not paying attention.” The only thing this morality play nonsense gives us is even flimsier characters who exist for one purpose: do naughty things. Why? So they can die as God commanded. The new band of victims includes Rachel’s (new) friends whom we’ve never met before, will never see again, nor will we care we ever saw them in the first place. Such as Mikey (no, not the killer), the arrogant cool guy with a great car that he cares more about than his girl friend. Spitz, the annoying prankster you want to punch from the very first second—the very first frame—he appears. Tina, the energetic hyperactive party girl, and Samantha the slut. All might as well have come straight out of a Friday the 13th.

Believe it or not, these two are even worse than they look. Every time they appear on screen you hear a goofy clown sound effect.
You just wish I’m kidding.
Here’s a philosophical question for you: how can you have comic, ahem, “relief”" when every God damn character is goofy?
They introduced the thorn tattoo for the sole purpose of giving the Halloween 6 writers something to do. In other words, they threw random crap into this movie and let the makers of the next one try and make sense of it.

And these awful slasher-bait characters undermine something the movie kinda does right. The original Halloween waits and waits, and it’s great for its patience. Halloween 5 mimics this to an extent with Michael stalking Tina, Sam, Mikey, and Spits in the daylight, but it loses its power when we just want him to go over and get those annoying bastards out of the movie. Later on at a party, Spitz dresses up as Michael Myers to freak out two bumbling cops too incompetent to shoot a gun. Then, of course, he has to scare his girl friend with the exact same prank, which comes after another false scare where Tina wanders off alone and wonders where everyone went ... which itself followed yet another scene where Myers puts on a different mask and poses as Tina’s (dead) boyfriend and is close enough to kiss her. Yes, Halloween 5 takes it times, even as Sam and Spitz initiate their standard slasher sex scene in a barn where we know Michael lurks after half a dozen false scares, and instead of tension we think, “please God, quit waiting on Michael. Just smite them now!”

The deliberate misdirections also undermine the suspense. During the parade of false scares, Jamie looks out her window and sees what looks like Michael, and so she takes off down the hall, down the stairs, into the basement where large sheets and blankets are hanging to dry, and ... and ... it’s just the gardener. The gardener who has a mustache which the figure we saw outside the window most certainly did not have, and why he came into a Children’s clinic, marched ominously around, and went into the basement with laundry hanging up I can’t explain. In fairness, the noticeable lack of Michael onscreen during Jamie’s flight plus listen closely to Alan Howath’s score which sounds like a jigsaw puzzled version of the Halloween theme played on a toy piano—these two elements do inform the attentive audience member that Jamie is not in any real danger. However, the scene also communicates that director Dominique Oshenin-Girard wants to play “gotcha” games more than tell a story, and since I don’t watch movies to play games I will now automatically assume every scene is bullshit. Good luck creating suspense now.

Oh, and the whole “Michael is after his family members” plot point introduced in Halloween 2 and expanded on in 4? That comes back to bite Halloween 5. Let’s be nice and overlook the “it was only the gardener chasing Jamie nevermind that that was not the gardener we saw outside Jamie’s window” misdirection and assume Michael does not know where Jamie is throughout most of the film. There is a moment when Michael gets in a car and tries to run down Tina. Jamie and her friend Billy show up, and Jamie calls out to Michael, effectively saving Tina’s life. “Here!” she screams, knowing Michael is compelled to come after her. Michael starts driving. Tina, Billy, and Jamie all split up, and which niece does uncle Michael Myers go after? The answer, of course, is Billy.

Ah, the man in black. He literally shows up, wanders around the movie, and sets Michael free at the end. The tattoo, I can almost—almost—forgive for being introduced without a meaning or intention. But an entire freaking character?

At least in Halloween 2 and 4, you can (kinda) make the argument that Michael is killing people in his path on his way to Laurie or Jamie. But in Halloween 5, Michael has a clear shot at Jamie, but doesn’t take it.

An attentive reader will have noticed that in the third paragraph I stated Jamie cannot speak and two paragraphs back also state she calls out to Michael. Both are true. Once it’s convenient for Jamie to speak again, she speaks. Despite the script doing everything in its power to torpedo her character, Danielle Harris rocks in this movie (even if she spends the first half of the movie just looking up wide eyed into space.) Once she meets up with her uncle just watch her. After the car containing Michael crashes and the car’s horn blares indicating his body slumped over the steering wheel, look at how her expression goes from relief to terror when the horn suddenly stops. Or the attic scene when she finds a coffin with her picture propped up on it, and she also discovers the bodies of Mikey, Rachel, and even her dog. Michael comes up the stairs, and she has nowhere left to run. She knows she’s cornered, and she knows she’s going to die. So she climbs into the coffin and waits for Michael. And just watch as this twelve year old little girl convincingly hits the extremes of terror, tragedy, and surrender—all in the span of a single scene.

I like the idea of a scene where Loomis tries talking to his former patient, but it just doesn’t play out. For one, Michael looks silly standing there with the knife raised, and two Loomis stupidly tries to take it from him.
As much as I like Jamie, Halloween 5 would have been a better film if she died at the end. Not that the MPAA would have allowed it. In the original cut, she actually gets stabbed in the leg, but the MPAA made them take it out.

There’s also a nice moment—my favorite of both Halloween 4 and 5—where right before Michael plunges the knife into her, Jamie calls out to him and to her surprise he pauses (a la Halloween II), and then she goes on to asks, “let me see.” I always liked that Michael does, for the first time, take the mask off. He’s been unmasked before—once per film, actually—but this is the first time it comes off by his hands. And there’s something both eerie and touching in that moment because it really does resonate as Jamie’s final request, and we really don’t want to see her die. Of course, director and co-writer Girard didn’t have it in him to make Jamie evil, so he doesn’t have it in him to kill Jamie; thus the moment gets spoiled with a silly escape. But for one brief second, when Jamie sits up to get a better look and observes “you’re just like me”, reminding the audience that once upon a time Michael Myers was a normal little boy, there is a momentary flicker of greatness.

And apparently, once upon a time, I felt one flicker, one great performance, and a handful of negligible positives could save an otherwise crappy movie. Go figure.