If someone were to ask me ten years ago which Halloween film was the worst in the franchise, I would have said, without hesitation, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. Since that time, however, a little movie called Halloween: Resurrection slithered its way into theaters, and kick-boxed Halloween 5 out of the bottom spot. I still have issues with Halloween 5 but, seeing how this is my favorite slasher franchise, I’ve still made a habit of watching this flick at least once a year (more if I stumble upon it on cable), and, god help me, I’ve almost actually started to enjoy it.
Halloween V picks up right where the previous film left off, with Michael Myers going down in a hail of gunfire, falling into a well, and then having a few sticks of dynamite dropped down on him for good measure. Unbeknownst to the lynch mob above, Michael manages to sneak out of the well through an underground passage, and drifts downstream to the home of a hermit, who, in a nod to Frankenstein, takes in the mortally injured man.
We flash forward a year. Michael lay seemingly comatose in the hermit’s shack. Here, for the first time, we see a small tattoo on Michael’s right wrist, before he sits bolt upright, dons his mask, and sneaks up on his benevolent caretaker. Jamie Lloyd (Harris), meanwhile, sees all this from her bed in the children’s psychiatric clinic she’s been committed to since trying to kill her foster mother. Now mute from the trauma, Jamie’s “vision” gets the attention of her nurse, and, as her silent screams give way to a full-blown seizure she’s rushed to the clinic’s triage. Jamie’s violent seizure reaches its zenith as, just outside of town, Michael snaps the neck of the hermit, but as soon as Michael’s murderous outburst is over, Jamie’s vital signs stabilize.
Dr. Loomis (Pleasence), who has apparently been hovering around her in anticipation of Michael’s inevitable return, is convinced that Jamie knows something, but he thinks that, for some reason, she’s protecting her uncle. What Loomis doesn’t realize is that not only has Michael already come home, but someone else – a man in black bearing the same strange tattoo as Michael’s – has come to town to claim him.
Look. I’m not going to sugarcoat this. Halloween 5 is a piss poor follow-up to the pure, unadulterated awesomesauce that was Dwight H. Little’s Halloween 4. Little’s rejuvenation of the series was classy, creepy, and oozing with atmosphere. Halloween 5 just…is. Director, Dominique Girard, shows little flair for the genre, instead lending the film a flat, overly vibrant tres 80s aesthete, punctuated by a cringeworthy guitar/synth variation on the classic score, and a thoroughly misguided attempt at infusing humor into the proceedings by introducing a pair of bumbling cops, whose arrival onscreen is accompanied by their very own “bumbling cop” comedic theme music.
Halloween 5 is also saddled with one of the most annoying characters in the annals of horror cinema in Tina Williams. I don’t know if it was the screenplay, Girard’s direction, Foxworth’s interpretation of a 80s Midwestern teenager, or a combination of all of the above, but I hate Tina. I hate Tina with every thread of my being as she he is, quite simply, the most insipid, unlikeable, and unsympathetic slasher heroine ever (and I use the term ‘heroine’ loosely since she doesn’t do anything remotely heroic or intelligent throughout the course of the film). Despite having seen Halloween V countless times, and being well aware that she survives to the end, I still root for her demise with every viewing. It’s not just Foxworth’s performance, either. It seems that no one’s really performing at the top of their game here, with Pleasence looking downright bored, while Harris’ mute/seizure shtick quickly wears out its welcome.
Basically, the one thing that keeps me coming back is Michael Myers, and, to a lesser degree, the introduction of the whole “Thorn” conspiracy; a twist that I found intriguing and loaded with potential (although it was better realized in the producer’s cut of Halloween 6). Girard is able to goose up a few good scares, as well as give his antagonist some decent kills in this outing. It should come as no surprise to fans that one of Myers’ victims is Jamie’s foster-sister, Rachel (Ellie Cornell, who, in one strange gaff, refers to Jamie as her step-sister). The death of Cornell’s fan favorite character makes for one of the series’ most emotional moments, which is a touch ironic, seeing as how this bit of pathos occurs in what is widely considered one of the franchise’s weakest installments.
Anchor Bay’s Blu-ray release of Halloween 5 features an appealing 1.85:1 1080p transfer that, while not quite a standout, does what it can with Girard’s uninspiring looking film. Colors are crisp and vibrant, the level of fine detail on display is adequate, and, for the most part, blacks are deep and true, save for the occasional bout of murkiness. While I actually found the transfer for Halloween 4 to be fairly impressive, this one is actually a tick better in terms of clarity and sharpness. The TrueHD soundtrack is a huge improvement over the disappointing track included with Anchor Bay’s release of Halloween 4, with potent bass, and much better use of the surrounds.
Bonus features include a brand new commentary with stuntman, Don Shanks (who plays both The Shape and The Man in Black), and web journo, Justin Beahm. Also included is a vintage commentary with director Girard, and actors Harris and Jeffrey Landman (Billy), a short collection of raw footage from the making of the film (SD), an EPK (SD), and the original theatrical trailer (SD).
While I’ve softened my stance on Halloween 5 over the years it’s still next-to-impossible to recommend this film to anyone save for true fans and completists. In terms of technical quality, Anchor Bay’s Blu-ray presentation is an improvement over their somewhat disappointing Halloween 4, as this release features much better audio quality and a slightly better transfer.