For the last four years, Alamo Drafthouse programmer Zack Carlson has hosted a late-night horror movie celebration called Terror Tuesday and if you are a lover of horror, both esoterically brilliantly and obscurely awful, this night was invented just for you. The Terror Tuesday Report will dissect the movie shown as well as provide a barometer for the audience's reaction; as many of these films demand to be seen with an audience, this proves a vital component to the evening.
This week's film: 'Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers,' directed by Dwight H. Little, 1988
Ten years after the Halloween night bloodletting in Haddonfield, Michael Myers still lives. Both he and his psychiatrist Dr. Loomis were assumed to be killed in that hospital fire in 1978; no other outcome seemed possible. But now Michael is being moved from the basement of the asylum where he has been an invalid these ten years and, wouldn't you know it, he escapes again. Now Michael's rage is focused on his niece Jamie, daughter of now departed Laurie Strode, and anyone who stands in his way.
I think it's safe to say that by the time you reach the fourth entry in any horror series, expectations as to quality are severely dampened. But I honestly believe that "Halloween 4" is far better than it has any right to be. Granted, I am a fan of Michael Myers, but that is not what allows this film to draw my favor.
First and foremost, I am impressed by the cinematography. There is no reason the fourth installment of a previously deceased franchise should look this good. The opening, as Michael is being moved from the castle-like asylum on a stormy night, looks like something out of a modern Frankenstein tale. His bandaged visage roaming around the gas station has a further classical feel to it. I love the shot of the long white hallway as Dr. Loomis appears for the first time; looks like he is walking directly into someone's subconscious. There is also a shot of Michael's face just barely evident down a dark hall that reminds me of the slow reveal of his face in the original; hell of a compliment to this film.
The characters may fall prey to one or two cheesy, late '80's quips of dialogue, but for the most part these Haddonfield residents ring true. The really interesting dynamic change is the inclusion of the lynch mob of local yokels. They seem comically misplaced until one of them mentions that he lost a child during Michael's rampage in 78. it calls to mind the realities of living in a town like Haddonfield with a monster like Myers and grants another dimension to the world of the film. The characters are given their proper ends as well; the kills in "Halloween 4" are far from disappointing and, moreso than any other sequel, showcase Michael's inhuman strength. Donald Pleseance has not lost a step despite his age. He still brings that ancient fortuneteller presence and that tortured voice that perpetually warns of the unstoppable evil living inside Michael.
The addition of the Jamie Llyod character is a stroke of genius. Not that it's particularly clever to slap together another Myers relation in order to give the boogeyman someone to hunt, but the parallels they draw between the two characters is fascinating. Jamie isn't overtly creepy, but instead we get flashes of weirdness wrapped in an otherwise adorably panicked tot. But I'll be damned if that ending didn't give me chills. When the POV shot from the original is recreated and it is Jamie holding the bloody blade, as her uncle did so many years before, Loomis' reaction is all too appropriate. One of the best endings of the whole series in my book.
Tonight, instead of usual Master of Ceremonies Zack Carlson, Terror Tuesday was hosted by local personality Owen Egerton. Owen, author and beloved Austin personality, gave an introduction to this film that bordered on a doctoral thesis on horror itself; I mean that as an absolute compliment. There was someone dressed as Michael Meyers wandering the aisles before and even during the film and Owen, also in costume, chucked candy into the crowd prior to the film's commencement. It was like watching "Halloween 4" in a fantastically cheesy haunted house and effectively set the tone for the happenings on screen.