Anchor Bay // 1989 // 98 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Patrick Bromley // August 21st, 2012
Michael lives. And this time they're ready.
Another year, another Halloween sequel. Immediately following the modest success of Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Moustapha Akkad fast-tracked its sequel into production. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers arrived in theaters just one year after its predecessor, but with very different results. Halloween 4 is one of the best movies in the franchise. Halloween 5 is one of the worst.
It's been one year since the events of Halloween 4. Masked murderer Michael Myers is thought dead. His niece, Jamie (Danielle Harris, Stake Land), has been committed to a children's psychiatric institution, having been rendered unable to speak since her encounter with Myers. It isn't long before The Shape returns to Haddonfield (again) and starts killing teenagers (again) and anyone who stops him from severing his bloodline once and for all.
Sure, the set up sounds simplistic. This is a Halloween movie, after all. The plots are nearly always the same: Michael Myers shows up, kills people. Halloween 5 fails to buck tradition. So much of what made Halloween 4 work has been done away with. Beloved characters are treated poorly. Entire plot twists are disregarded. Gone are the reasonably smart, believable characters, replaced by stock '80s slasher victims practically begging to be murdered. Any illusions of invention with Michael Myers are completely abandoned, as this is the movie in which he actually tries to kill someone by running her down with a car. Yes, that's right. But Halloween 5's biggest crime is that it introduces a terrible subplot about shadowy men and Druids that would drag the series down to such depths that it would require a Kevin Williamson reboot to help salvage what had become of the franchise. It's funny, too, because Michael Myers doesn't look Druish.
Much of this falls on the shoulders of the movie's director, Swiss-French filmmaker Dominique Othenin-Girard. To his credit, he does try to create his own style and look for the film -- unlike Dwight H. Little, who helmed the previous installment, Othenin-Girard isn't just trying to mimic the aesthetic established by John Carpenter in 1978. Unfortunately, the style of Halloween 5 doesn't really work. The hand-held photography and fish-eye lenses feel cheap and schlocky, and while that's a categorization that actually does apply to most of the Halloween sequels, they've at least tried to avoid looking the part. The director also tries to distinguish his installment by upping the violence and gore, as though that's what's been missing from the franchise to this point. I appreciate his willingness to do something different with the fifth movie in a series, but the majority of his contributions don't work.
Like Anchor Bay's release of Halloween 4, this Blu-ray of Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers is the best the movie has looked on home video. Colors are warmer, detail is better and scratches and signs of aging are mostly nonexistent. It's a good transfer. The TrueHD audio track suffers from some of the same problems as the one on the previous movie's HD release, in that it does a decent job with the dialogue (and, of course, all of the screaming), but lacks much power. Horror movies present a great opportunity to create tension and scares just with sound -- consider Carpenter's original Halloween -- but Anchor Bay's Blu-ray fails to capitalize on that.
Don't pay any attention to the disc jacket, because it's a mess. It advertises a commentary track with director Dominique Othenin-Girard and author (and halloweenmovies.com site runner) Justin Beahm. That's incorrect. The new commentary track features Beahm and stunt man Don Shanks, who plays Michael Myers in the movie. Their conversation is fine, mostly focused on production anecdotes, but limited in its scope given Shanks' participation. As the only new bonus feature on the disc, it's a letdown. The second commentary, incorrectly labeled as featuring Shanks and stars Danielle Harris and Jeffrey Landman, actually features Harris, Landman and director Othenin-Girard, and it's the same one that was featured on the 2006 Divimax DVD release. How both commentaries got listed wrong is a mystery.
Also carried over from previous DVD releases are an "on set" featurette, a promotional piece and the original trailer. The retrospective featurette found on the 2006 release hasn't been included, and that's a shame.
Halloween 4 and Halloween 5 are so much of a piece that it's fascinating to see how one works so well and the other doesn't. I get why any true blue Halloween fan would want to own the title on Blu-ray -- and there are things to like, particularly the presentation -- but as far as Halloween sequels go, this one definitely ranks in the bottom half.
Review content copyright © 2012 Patrick Bromley; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 1989
MPAA Rating: Rated R