Along with Halloween IV, Anchor Bay have decided to give this 1989 sequel the HD treatment just in time for this year’s Halloween festivities, and despite not being many people’s favourite film in the series it could be a good time to re-evaluate your opinion of the middle sequels to Halloween.
It’s a year after the events of Halloween IV and young Jamie Lloyd is now mute and living in a psychiatric hospital. Aware that she has a psychic link with her killer uncle Michael Myers (Don Sharp), Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) doesn’t believe that Michael is truly dead and is trying to get the terrified youngster to get a fix on him, but he doesn’t have to wait long as Michael returns on Halloween night (after being in a coma whilst in the care of a vagrant) and tries to finish what he started, only this time Loomis has a plan to stop the killer once and for all.
Surprisingly, despite not being many people’s favourite film in the series, Halloween V has stood the test of time a little better than the films that were released immediately before and after it. Perhaps because of director Dominique Othenin-Girard’s European influence or maybe because it is a little more playful than the other films that surround it, it is a lot more watchable and, for use of a better word, fun. But that doesn’t detract from the fact that this is still woefully under-par when put next to Halloween II or Halloween H20.
Dispensing with the storyline that was introduced at the end of the previous film, Halloween V is littered with plot- strands that go nowhere, for example the mysterious ‘man in black’ who appears throughout the film. There are also some comedy cops that bumble around making wisecracks and generally being inept, and it’s difficult to work out who thought that was a good idea. It isn’t as painful as it was in The Last House on the Left but it still feels a little incongruous. And how did a homeless bum keep a comatose Michael Myers alive for a year?
The crowning glory here, though, is Donald Pleasence and his truly demented performance, which completely goes off the scale of sanity, so-much-so that you may find yourself routing for Michael by the end of it all. It is rather touching to see Pleasence again as he is the one continuing factor from the original film, but his cries of “DIE! DIE! DIE!” as he wrestles with Myers like an old man in a pub car park fight are both terrifying and hilarious at the same time. And the verbal mauling he puts the clearly terrified Jamie through would be considered abuse by today’s standards. It is hard to tell where Pleasence ends and Loomis begins in this film as Pleasence’s age and health had obviously had an effect on him in the year since the previous film, and his slurry voice and stiff movement are quite painful to take in at certain points.
Back when these films originally came out it was the darker, meaner part four that was generally considered the better of the middle sequels – and to many it still is – but it must be said that it is this often-criticised instalment that comes off better over twenty years later. The picture quality on this transfer is excellent and certainly brings out that brighter, European flavour that the director was obviously aiming at. The audio is also a huge improvement on the quieter mix that the previous film was given, with various background noises adding a little more depth and is a lot more balanced than before. Extras are kept to an on-location featurette, a five-minute preview, a trailer and audio commentaries from Dominique Othenin-Girard, Danielle Harris, Don Shanks and author Justin Beahm.
So overall, it’s another case of a great presentation of a less-than-spectacular film. If you go into the film not expecting much in the way of serious suspense and flawless storytelling it does have a bit of kitsch value, and when it looks as good as this does then it is worth a look for a bit of a giggle. But if you’re after a serious continuation of the Michael Myers story in a way that is faithful to John Carpenter’s original vision then you’ll just have to skip forward two more films.