I hope this does not lower my standing in the eyes of horror fans worldwide, and please don’t hate me for it, but I actually quite like Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers.

Never in a million years am I going to come out and say it is a good film, and it is merely a pale shadow compared to the first two episodes in the Myers slashathon.

But there’s just something about it that has me happily sitting through it time and again – perhaps it is the unhinged performance of Donald Pleasance as Dr Loomis, perhaps it’s the excellent turn from youngster Danielle Harris as Jamie Lloyd, or perhaps it is just the fact that it is light years ahead of the frankly boring Halloween 5.

Having taken a detour into snake-spewing pumpkin masks with Halloween 3, the series returned to the Myers mythology in 1988, some seven years after his last cinematic instalment.

By now the serial killer is safely locked up in a mental hospital, bandaged and doped up to combat the burns he suffered in Halloween 2.

Naturally though that is not going to stay the case for long and one ambulance transfer (and an impressive thumb through a medic’s skull) later and Myers is on his way back to his old knifing ground of Haddonfield, just in time for Halloween.

Oh-so-conveniently one of the medics had blurted out that Myers now has a niece (Harris), giving good old Michael the motive to plunder some overalls and a mask and start another killing spree.

Hot-footing (well, hobbling with a walking stick) after him is Loomis, himself looking quite sprightly considering he was supposedly incinerated at the end of the 1981 sequel.

Loomis knows Myers is heading back to Haddonfield and sets about getting there, giving himself ample time to screech out lines like ‘You’re talking about him as if he’s human’ and ‘This is not a man’ etc – all good stuff.

Although Lloyd is aware her mother is Laurie Strode, Jamie Lee Curtis did not return for this outing, forcing writers to claim her dead, with Lloyd living with foster parents and sister of sorts Ellie Cornell.

But, somewhat bizarrely, the writers do decide to include some sort of telepathic link between Lloyd and Myers, leading to a whole host of false scares.

Although the body count is relatively high by Halloween standards there is very little in the way of on-screen carnage – in fact many of the kills take place off-screen.

There are still some nice moments – a throat ripping for example and my personal favourite, a shotgun rammed through the stomach, but a number of the kills seem purely designed to pad the body count rather than push the story along.

An annoying twist ending suggests the franchise was about to head in another direction, but as we shall see in Halloween 5, that was not necessarily the case.

For the fourth instalment of a horror series the performances are relatively good – Cornell plays a solid lead, while Harris turns in a startling performance for someone so young – a performance that was to prove a launchpad to a solid horror career for her.

George P Wilbur does what is expected in the role of Myers, while Pleasance moves his loony Loomis act up another notch, providing much of the entertainment Halloween 4 has to offer.

Director Dwight Little does nothing particularly memorable behind the camera, but he does nothing particularly wrong either and at a brisk 85 minutes the flick fairly rattles along.

All in all Halloween 4 is a fairly decent watch, and proves a solid half-way house between the excellent two instalments that proceeded it and the dire efforts that were to follow.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.